Life on the Spanish coast or the French riviera may be idyllic but when expats are faced with serious medical conditions many will want to return to the UK to be closer to family and the familiarity of the NHS. But how easy is it for British nationals living overseas to return to the UK and receive free treatment? The good news for some is that it is possible, however there are UK government and NHS rules on eligibility, having a UK passport alone is not enough to entitle you to free NHS care.

If you receive a UK state pension and have a residual S1 certificate, you will be entitled to free NHS care whether you are just visiting the UK or if you are permanently resettling back in the UK.

If you are not eligible for an S1 certificate, but are planning to move back to the UK permanently, then you may be entitled to free NHS care providing that you meet certain criteria, which includes; providing evidence of the sale of a property or the termination of a lease overseas, evidence of a recent UK utilities bill or a contract of employment for a UK based job. Essentially you need to demonstrate that you are returning to the UK permanently as an ‘ordinary resident’.

If you cannot demonstrate these or if you only wish to travel to the UK for treatment before returning to your expatriated home, then you may well be liable for part or all of the costs of your NHS care.

Med ResQ can provide medical transfers for expats overseas who wish to return to the UK for treatment. We take care of all arrangements including transfers, flights and hospital admissions on arrival back in the UK.

If you need assistance, then please contact us at or call 0044 (0) 208 7060810.

The following resources may also be of use when establishing whether or not you are entitled to free treatment: