The good news for British retirees moving to Italy is that their healthcare costs will be covered by the UK government even if they have moved there after the withdrawal agreement or are moving in the future! What’s more, any dependents are covered too.

Here is all you need to know about the post-Brexit healthcare rules in Italy…

Can I still use my EHIC/GHIC?

Yes, if you are a non-resident. The GHIC is the new version of the EHIC, although you can continue to use your EHIC until it expires. Your GHIC (or non-expired EHIC) will cover you for emergency treatment only in Italy. It won’t cover you for things like medical repatriation, so it is wise to still take out travel insurance.

You can apply for a free GHIC card via the NHS website.

The card is designed for people who are visiting Italy for short periods, such as for a holiday or to visit a holiday home. If you plan to live in Italy permanently, you should register with the Italian healthcare system.

Find out more by downloading our full guide to buying property in Italy.

I’m a UK pensioner moving to Italy. Will I get free healthcare?

Yes, hooray! The agreement that the UK has made with the EU for reciprocal healthcare means things continue pretty much as they were before for retirees moving to Italy.

If you receive a UK State Pension, all you need to do is apply for an S1 form and you can access FREE healthcare on the same basis as an Italian citizen. And it gets even better – your S1 form can also include dependents, such as a spouse, a civil partner, children under 26 and so on.

Details on how to apply for an S1 form can be found here.

Do remember that although a lot of things will be free in Italy, the list may not be exactly the same as in the UK on the NHS. You will receive emergency care, hospital admissions and GP appointments for free, but things like specialist referrals, diagnostic tests and prescriptions will need to be paid for via a co-payment known as a ‘Ticket’.

An S1 form entitles UK pensioners in Italy to FREE healthcare on the same basis as an Italian citizen

If I am moving to Italy on a permanent basis, do I still have full access to the NHS?

If you are planning on moving to Portugal or have moved since the beginning of the year, you don’t automatically retain your right to NHS services. This is because the NHS is a resident-based system, so you need to be ordinarily resident to access its services. There are some small exceptions to this, such as if you are a student.

So, if you do plan to return to the UK temporarily, make sure to take out travel insurance. If you need primary care, for example, to visit A&E or the GP, you won’t be charged, but for anything beyond this, it wouldn’t be covered.

If you live in Italy, you may be entitled to an Italian EHIC to use when you return to the UK. This card allows you to receive medical assistance during a temporary stay in the countries of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. It will cover you for medical needs above just primary care in the UK.

If you decide to move back permanently, you will regain your rights to the full NHS.

Make sure to download your Emigration Guide today.

If I move to Italy before I receive my UK State Pension, do I need private healthcare?

If you’re employed or self-employed, you can access the Italian National Health System, known as ‘iscrizione obbligatoria’, for free. Any dependents can also be registered. If you are not working, you can still access public healthcare voluntarily by paying an annual fee – this is known as fee each year ‘iscrizione volontaria’.

If you choose not to register with the Italian health system then you will need to take out private health insurance.

Download the Italy Buying Guide today

The process of buying property in Italy is significantly different from here in the UK. This is why we’ve created our completely free Italy Buying Guide, to provide those dreaming of a new life in Italy with all of the practical, legal, and financial information needed to help them realise that dream.


  Ask the right questions
  Avoid losing money
  Avoid the legal pitfalls
  Move in successfully

Download your free guide to buying in Italy

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