I am an Australian resident but a British Citizen. I currently hold a British passport and receive a small British pension but do not pay any British taxes.

I have cancer and I am coming to the UK to visit and want to know if I became unwell, if I'd be covered under the British health system.

  • 1
    Even as just an Aussie, you get some cover: humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/medicare/…
    – Mark Mayo
    Jul 6, 2015 at 3:58
  • If it's about NHS, you are better off on the Expat page. expatriates.stackexchange.com/questions And if you have cancer, you and a spouse MIGHT qualify for free air travel via private jet, suggest checking it out
    – Gayot Fow
    Jul 6, 2015 at 9:45
  • @GayotFow Who is paying for a private jet? The NHS doesn't pay for medical evacuations even for those who are contributing to it.
    – Calchas
    Jul 6, 2015 at 10:56
  • 1
    You should also ensure that your travel insurance policy covers you if you become unwell between Australia and the UK (since your flight will be stopping somewhere else en route). Most insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions.
    – Calchas
    Jul 6, 2015 at 10:58
  • @Calchas, it might make for a good question here. Ask and I can try to answer.
    – Gayot Fow
    Jul 6, 2015 at 12:07

4 Answers 4


Australia has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with:

  • New Zealand
  • United Kingdom
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Sweden
  • Netherlands
  • Finland
  • Italy
  • Belgium
  • Malta
  • Slovenia
  • Norway

These agreements mean:

Australian residents can get help with the cost of essential medical treatment when visiting these countries

Full information about Reciprocal Health Care Agreements

First Step

If you know you need treatment, you can enrol for Medicare at a DHS Service Centre. If you receive treatment before you enrol, Medicare benefits will be back-paid for eligible visitors.

To enrol in Medicare you need:

your passport and a valid visa to provide (in some cases) identification showing you are enrolled in your country’s national health scheme. If your Medicare application is approved, you will receive an Australian reciprocal health care card in the mail.


In this enormous PDF (linked from here, which appears to be the official information) it says at page 38:

5.5 The exemptions to paying the health surcharge are as follows: ... (x) nationals of Australia or New Zealand; or

See also page 45. But that covers Australian nationals, not British Nationals in Australia.

Yet on page 84 it says of the reciprocal agreement

Australia 1* Applies to all residents of that country.

In short I'd suggest you check with the British Embassy / Consulate.


Other responders have addressed the need for acute care.

It's probably worth saying that you'd be entitled to care on the same basis as a UK resident, so

  • you'd only get the drugs which are funded within the NHS. So it's possible that if you had cancer related issues you may not be able to get the same drugs in the UK as you received in Australia.

    • the NHS will not pay for repatriation - so you'll have to pay to get yourself back to Australia. If you're acutely unwell that could be very expensive.

I wouldn't dream of going to Australia without good travel insurance, and I suspect you should get insurance before coming to the UK, unless the costs of repatriation are not an issue to you. The good news would be that as you're covered for acute care by the public system, the cost of such insurance should be significantly less than if you were going to a country without a reciprocal care arrangement, or to the USA.

I guess the other thing to consider is you're probably not flying directly from Australia to the UK. What would happen if you became ill en route? Another reason to have good insurance.

  • "I guess the other thing to consider is you're probably not flying directly from Australia to the UK." and even if you were flying direct (not an option right now but may be in the future) a sufficiently serious medical emergency in-flight could dump you in a hospital in any random country near the flightpath. Mar 29, 2016 at 10:37

As well as the above answers, The UK will provide free healthcare for visiting British citizens if they are receiving a British state pension. More details in answers to this question.

It's probably worth mentioning that they won't cover cases where the medical treatment is the purpose of the visit.

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