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Getting NHS treatment

Coping with cancer

This page tells you about treatment on the NHS if you are from overseas. There is information about


Who is entitled to NHS treatment

The cancer information nurses at Cancer Research UK are often asked about access to treatment in the UK for people who live overseas. Generally, you can only be treated on the NHS if you are a permanent resident of the UK. There are a few exceptions. For example, you and your children can normally have NHS treatment if you are not a permanent resident, but have applied for asylum here. And you are usually eligible if you are a full time student attending either a course that is at least 6 months long or a course that the UK government is funding.

There is helpful information about this on the following websites


If you live in the EEA or Switzerland

If you live in a European Economic Area country, or Switzerland, then you may be able to be treated here if the treatment you need is not available where you live. You would need a special form (E112 or E123) which you get from your own doctor. The countries included in this arrangement are

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus (not Northern Cyprus)
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

Bilateral agreements with other countries

Some countries may pay for their residents to come to the UK for treatment. They have what is called a bilateral, or reciprocal, agreement with the UK government. Again this is only likely to happen if a particular treatment is not available where you live. The countries that currently have a reciprocal agreement with the UK for their nationals and UK nationals who are resident there are

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Gibraltar
  • Macedonia
  • Montenegro
  • New Zealand
  • Serbia

You can read more about this on the NHS Choices website

If you are a resident of these countries, regardless of your nationality, you may also qualify

  • Anguilla
  • Australia
  • Barbados
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Falkland Islands
  • Iceland
  • Isle of Man
  • Jersey
  • Montserrat
  • St. Helena
  • Turks and Caicos Islands

You can check to see if your treatment can be sponsored by your Government from your own Government health department.

Go to NHS Choices website for more information. 


Emergency treatment

If you are visiting the UK and need urgent treatment you can call an ambulance or go to a hospital accident and emergency department. All treatment given in accident and emergency departments is free.

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Updated: 19 May 2016