UK Department of Health advice for expats travelling back to the UK this Christmas

The UK’s Department of Health says that many expats in Spain will not be aware that there are new procedures – and new restrictions – in place that could affect any access they might need to healthcare. This is something to be particularly aware of given the time of year, with many returning to the UK for Christmas. The Department of Health has therefore written THIS, which is a guide to the various ways in which British expats can gain access to healthcare if it should be needed while they’re in the UK. The information is divided by social security categories – e.g. state pensioner, worker, etc. – and by how public healthcare is accessed in Spain. I hope everyone has a healthy as well as a happy Christmas, but it’s good to know the score should anything go wrong.


  1. Nigel proper bright people would say too bright

  2. Don’t think this forum should be making personal comments like the above.

  3. QUOTE>>>>>> Actually I have full private medical insurance both here and in the UK – it is the UK government that want it both ways – they continue to tax my pension but want to refuse me medical care if I need it…I should give up with this kind of commenting as you don’t make yourself look to bright ??

  4. I don’t understand your tax situation BillyD. The UK and Spain have a reciprocal tax arrangement and if you are legally and fiscally resident in Spain you should be paying tax only in Spain. Perhaps you need to talk to a tax expert to get this sorted out.

  5. Actually I have full private medical insurance both here and in the UK – it is the UK government that want it both ways – they continue to tax my pension but want to refuse me medical care if I need it.

  6. Hi Nova
    Some people want the best of both worlds and think anyone else who does is not entitled and play the “I’ve paid my tax in the uk card “. The problem is that they become Tenerife residents and pay virtually nothing into the Spanish system and then want unlimited free healthcare in both countries and think anyone else is not entitled.

    If only life was like that Billy D. !!!

  7. Indeed, it doesn’t make sense to complain about the NHS being some kind of free-for-all and then deliberately try to circumvent the eligibility rules to gain access fraudulently..

  8. I think Billy D needs to calm down a bit or he may give himself a heart attack worrying about the UK health system that he obviously knows nothing about . If you live and register here you cannot have the best of both worlds whether you pay your tax here or in the UK.People know the system and are always trying to find a way round it and then boast to their friends it doesn’t apply to them. Quite sad really.??. I have heard it so many times before and they always then play the refugee card as a final shot to justify themselves .These people must be very unhappy with their lives if all they do is worry about other people getting more than they do .

  9. If you’re not living in the UK then anybody who does live there is, by definition, more resident than you are. I don’t honestly understand the problem. Why would you want to spend your trips back to the UK sitting around in doctor’s waiting rooms anyway? When I go back it’s to see my family and every moment is precious. I’d have to fall seriously ill to waste any of my holiday time in a doctor’s surgery because anything else could wait until I’d got home – to Tenerife – where I’m resident.

  10. I know that is the UK government’s position but how exactly is the refugee or asylum seeker who has just landed in the UK more a resident than me? Best advice is to ignore the rules and give a friends UK address to the NHS when going abroad.

  11. But eligibility to the UK healthcare system isn’t based on whether you pay taxes, it’s based on whether you live there or not, just as Janet explained above. This isn’t new, the UK system has always been residence-based. So if it’s important to you, then this is a factor you need to consider when deciding to live abroad. However, as the rest of the link explains, anyone entitled to Spanish state healthcare is still entitled to emergency healthcare in the UK as in any other EU country with their EHIC card or S1. It’s only those who are neither working nor retired who might have an issue, but again, that’s part of the decision to move abroad.

  12. It’s not understandable we are still paying taxes

  13. Author

    How can this be? Because the UK has a residence-based system for entitlement. If you live there, you’re entitled to healthcare. If you don’t live there, you’re not. In Spain, and many other places, there is a contribution-based system for entitlement, but the UK’s welfare state was founded on residence-based entitlement – at a time when there were far fewer residents than there are now.

    Given that there is a residence-based system of entitlement, it is understandable that those of us who have moved to live abroad are no longer entitled to healthcare in a country in which we are no longer resident.

  14. this is amazing, considering every nationality other than British expats can get EVERYTHING!!


    Ridiculous and disgusting!

  15. Is the UK really so anti it’s own citizens? I paid tax in the UK for 35 years and continue to pay tax on my civil service pension in the UK. Am I really less entitled than a refugee or an asylum seeker (who have not paid a penny into the UK) simply because I live in Tenerife. Recent figures from Northern Ireland show that there are twice as many people registered for free NHS services than actually live there. The NHS need to tackle the real problem – the masses of people claiming care from other countries on the basis of being able to provide a UK address of a family member or friend within the UK.

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