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Health care for tourists and holidaymakers

If you are coming to Scotland on holiday or to visit friends or relatives, you may have to pay for any health care you need while you are here.

You should always get travel insurance with medical cover before your trip.

Accessing health care

If you need treatment while you are in the UK, NHS staff may want to see:

  • your passport or national identity card
  • documents showing where you live that prove you are registered for work or receive health care in your own country.

If you don’t have these you may need to pay for any care you receive.

Find out more about accessing NHS services and treatments

Healthcare Costs

Health care for holidaymakers is free for the most part. There are, however, some treatments that may incur a cost.

The Citizens Advice Bureau provides advice regarding NHS charges for people from abroad

European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland citizens

If you normally live in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you will not have to pay any treatment while you are here. This includes treatment for an illness or condition you had before you travelled.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) 

You must get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in your own country before your trip.

You may need to show your EHIC card to NHS staff. If you don’t have an EHIC card, NHS staff may not be able to treat you as an NHS patient. You may need to pay for any care you receive.

Non-EEA or Switzerland citizens

The UK has special arrangements with some countries outside the EEA.If you come from one of those countries you will be able to get some free health care while you are here.

If you don’t normally live in the EEA or Switzerland and your country does not have an agreement with the UK you will need to pay for all of your health care.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) provides a list of countries with reciprocal healthcare agreements with the UK

Medical repatriation

If you become ill or have an accident and need transport with medical support to go back to your home country, you will have to pay for this.  This is not not covered by the EHIC, or by any arrangements with countries outside the EEA.

Emergency care

If you or a member of your family are unwell and your GP surgery and pharmacist are closed. You should phone NHS 24 on 111.

NHS 24 provide an interpreting service if english is not your first or preferred language.

Emergency prescriptions

If you run out of medicine while you are visiting , you can find a local GP surgery and ask to make an appointment.

The GP will decide if you can be registered as a temporary resident and may ask to see:

  • your EHIC card
  • your passport
  • a document showing where you live.

If you are registered as a temporary resident, you will not need to pay to see the GP.

If you are not registered as a temporary resident, you may need to pay to see the GP and pay the full price for each medicine on the prescription.

Medicines without a prescription

Alternatively, you can find a local pharmacy and ask the pharmacist for a small supply of the medicines you need.

If the pharmacist agrees to do this, you will need to pay the full price for the medicines.

More information

The Scottish Government provide more information for overseas visitors regarding the health service.

You can find more information about health care for holidaymakers in the leaflet - Health care in Scotland for holidaymakers from overseas

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