I want to know if I am entitled to medical assistance in the UK while visiting for 3 weeks in June. I am travelling on my Canadian passport since my UK one is outdated.

  • 1
    IMHO not off-topic but borderline since the question is not about moving for extended periods. Rather it's about health insurance whilst travelling.
    – JoErNanO
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 12:59

2 Answers 2


From the NHS Information for visitors to England site:

The NHS is a residence-based healthcare system


Hospital treatment is free to 'ordinary residents' of the UK. But if you are visiting the UK – to stay with family, on business, as a tourist, or if you are living here without proper permission – then you are likely to be charged by an NHS hospital for the treatment you receive

As such, since you're a Canadian resident, you're not entitled to NHS coverage through the normal route. Citizenship doesn't help, it's the residency (and hence paying for it through taxes) that counts

There are quite a few countries with reciprocal healthcare agreements, under which residents of those countries can use the NHS while visiting, and UK residents can use their system when registering there. Unfortunately, Canada is not one of them.

As a British citizen, you're entitled to move to the UK. If you did, you could register with a GP, and start accessing NHS treatments. However, if you're just visiting, and don't qualify for one of the exemptions on this page, you'll need to take out travel insurance with a health component / arrange for your existing health insurance at home to cover you abroad.

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    As an aside, the answer would be the same if you were travelling on your British passport. Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 17:19
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    I think they figure that if you've paid enough years worth of NI contributions to qualify for a state pension, you've funded the system enough to be entitled!
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 20:35

If you are receiving a Uk pension you are entitled to free emergency in hospital medical. ie if you go to emergency for treatment and are kept in then your treatment is free. You cannot just go for a hip replacement or something like that, it has to be as an emergency in patient.

  • 4
    This answer would probably be improved with a link to an official site with more details. Commented May 18, 2015 at 12:20
  • While I believe this may have been true in the past, I don't believe it is any more. Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 1:58

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