If you live in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you may be covered for healthcare paid by the UK if you receive a UK state pension. However, for any period you put off taking your state pension, the UK won't provide you with healthcare cover. So until you claim, you'll need to make your own arrangements.

For anyone retiring abroad, healthcare should be a priority consideration. In the UK we all enjoy free healthcare from the NHS and private medical insurance is not essential. But in some countries this is far from the case. Find out more information on healthcare overseas at
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Where do you need private cover?

Medical insurance is essential in the United States and South Africa.

Where do you need to make provisions for healthcare payments?

In France, Spain and Italy the state system provides most medical care at a greatly reduced cost. Expats retiring from the UK should obtain an S1 form before leaving. You can do this by calling the International Pension Centre on 0191 218 7777.

However, top-up medical insurance is still recommended as you often need to pay a share (around 30%) of the cost of treatment and medicines.

If you need medical treatment, you're expected to pay at the end of each consultation, but you can claim the money back from your insurer.

Where is healthcare treatment similar to the NHS?

The table below from shows where you are entitled to universal healthcare benefits in a range of popular retirement destinations. It also shows where a visa is needed to live in the country.

The table below shows where you are able to access universal healthcare benefits in a range of popular countries in which to retire. We also show where a Visa is needed to live in the country.


Universal healthcare?

Visa required?

New Zealand
South Africa
United States of America


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