Your rights to treatment in Europe

A UK patient's guide to the European Directive on Cross Border Healthcare

As a UK citizen and therefore a citizen of a European Union state, you have a right in certain circumstances and under certain conditions to seek treatment in other European states and for the cost of this treatment to be reimbursed by the NHS.

In March 2011, the European Directive on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare was adopted by the European Parliament. This Directive clarifies the rights of EU citizens to seek treatment in other EU member states.

The EU Directive does not give patients any rights to cross border healthcare that they don’t have already. It doesn’t introduce any new rights. These rights have already been established by the European Court of Justice. What the Directive aims to do is to establish a framework within which cross border healthcare will operate and to set the rules regarding how patients will access care and what kind of treatment they are entitled to outside of their own country.

However…. there are very few UK or EU citizens who understand what their rights are to treatment elsewhere within the EU and few know how to exercise those rights. In truth, most people are still not aware that they may choose treatment in another EU state.

This guide aims to plug the information gap for UK patients, and to help UK patients understand what their rights are under the new Directive and how to go about exercising those rights.

The guide has been produced by the editorial team at Treatment Abroad, the leading online guide to medical travel, run by LaingBuisson.

In preparing the guide, we have consulted throughout with the EU & International Cross Border Health & Competition Policy Team at the UK Department of Health. Their help in editing and reviewing this guide is greatly appreciated.

In this section...


As a UK citizen and therefore a citizen of a European Union state, you have a right in certain circumstances and under certain conditions to seek t ...

Questions and answers

Health questions and answers about the Directive! ...

The UK patient...putting it into practice

As a UK citizen, you have the right, in certain circumstances, to seek healthcare in the European Economic Area (EEA: EU member states plus Iceland ...

What are my rights?

As a citizen of the European Union, you have the right to freedom of movement and the freedom to obtain services across the European Community. Thi ...

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