I have dual citizenship Canadian and British. I receive a British old age pension. Can I use the NHS free when spending 2 weeks holiday in UK and Spain?

  • 4
    Is the old age pension you receive a state retirement pension? May 24, 2015 at 1:06

3 Answers 3


Yes you can, at least in Britain

Ordinarily eligibility for free healthcare in the UK, like most places, is based on residency, not citizenship, and being a British Citizen does not matter. However it turns out that there is an exemption for those in receipt of a British state pension.

If one of the following applies to you then you will be exempt from charges for treatment if it becomes necessary during your stay and cannot wait until your return home. This includes any pre-existing conditions that doctors say need prompt treatment while here. Any pre-planned or routine treatment will not be free

The applicable condition is:

Anyone receiving a UK state pension if they have lived legally in the UK for 10 continuous years or more at some point. This also covers their spouse, civil partner or child under 16 if they are travelling with them

Other exemptions include EEA residents, and those living in countries outside the EEA which have a reciprocal healthcare agreement.

References: NHS Citizen's Advice Bureau

  • 1
    This might be wrong. I don't think we have enough information. The page you link to includes this paragraph: "[You are entitled to receive free NHS care if you] get a UK state retirement pension or another state benefit and normally live in a non-EEA country. You must have lived lawfully in the UK for at least ten years continuously in the past, or worked for the UK government for at least ten years continuously. Your spouse, civil partner and dependent children are also entitled to free NHS hospital treatment if they fall ill. They must be living with you throughout your stay in the UK"
    – phoog
    May 26, 2015 at 20:44
  • @phoog I did not see that. May 26, 2015 at 20:46
  • Now made correct. May 26, 2015 at 21:03


If your pension is "a UK state retirement pension or another state benefit," and if you "have lived lawfully in the UK for at least ten years continuously in the past, or worked for the UK government for at least ten years continuously," then you are eligible for free NHS care.

See (near the bottom of) https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/healthcare/help-with-health-costs/nhs-charges-for-people-from-abroad/


Couple of points to clarify. If by NHS you mean the British National Health Service, then you can only use the NHS in the UK. When you are in Spain, you will have to use the Spanish Healthcare Service. If you are a UK citizen then you get automatic health insurance through your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This means that you will get the same treatment anywhere in the EU as you would in the UK. Now, what is actually covered by your insurance depends on your plan.

That said, emergency medical treatment will most likely be guaranteed. See gov.uk for more information.

  • 4
    You are not entitled to NHS privileges or an EHIC just because you are a UK citizen. May 24, 2015 at 1:04
  • 3
    Can you give more specific references? Saying "see gov.uk" is only slightly more helpful than "look on the Internet". May 24, 2015 at 1:24
  • From the EHIC webpage "The card is not an alternative to travel insurance [...]Therefore, it is important to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy
    – Phil
    May 25, 2015 at 15:32

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