What happens after Brexit

The UK leaves the EU on 31 January 2020. As a doctor, you may have questions about what this means for you.

Location: UK International
Audience: All doctors
Updated: Monday 7 September 2020
EU flag article illustration

The UK and EU have agreed a Brexit deal. The UK will now enter into a transition period until 31 December 2020. This page sets out what this will mean for you. 



EEA doctors moving to the UK

If you arrive in the UK before 31 December 2020 you and your family can apply under the EU settlement scheme and be granted pre-settled or settled status.

Find out more about applying to the settled status scheme.

If you are a BMA member, you can access our immigration advice service, which provides free, basic immigration advice in connection with your employment and/or study in the UK.

Irish nationals moving to the UK

You can continue to live and work in the UK without requiring permission - your residence rights are not dependent on the UK's membership of the EU.

If you arrive before the 31 December 2020, you may want to consider applying under the EU settlement scheme. Your non-Irish, non-British family members may also apply for settled status without you having to do so.

If you arrive after the 31 December 2020, any non-Irish, non-British family members will need to apply through the new immigration system to stay in the UK.

Travelling between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

If you are a UK or Irish national, you can continue to travel between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Frontier workers – that is EU nationals resident in the Republic of Ireland who work in Northern Ireland – can continue to travel between the two countries until December 2020.

The rights of those moving between the UK and the EU after the end of the transition period are subject to future negotiations.


Professional qualifications

There will be no change to how the GMC registers doctors after Brexit until 31 December 2020.

You can find more information on the GMC website


Employing EEA staff

Employer checks

You can continue to conduct right to work checks on EEA nationals using a passport or national identity card as evidence.

You can access employment law advice by contacting [email protected] or calling 0300 123 1233.

Supporting your EEA employees

You can tell your employees about the settled status scheme. The Home Office has produced some guidance, a briefing pack and poster to raise awareness of the scheme.

You can also use the employer toolkit which includes more information about the scheme.

If your employees are BMA members, they can access our immigration advice service, which provides free, basic immigration advice.


Patients - access to healthcare

EU citizens in the UK can use reciprocal healthcare schemes until the end of the transition period. UK citizens will also be able to access healthcare in EU countries.

Access to these arrangements beyond the transition period are subject to future negotiations.

Primary care

You can continue to register and treat EU citizens visiting the UK as you do now until the end of the transition period. You do not need to see evidence of eligibility to register a patient.

Read our guidance to find out more about access to healthcare for overseas visitors and registering patients. 

Secondary care

Emergency care is provided for free throughout the UK. Access to non-emergency care will usually be subject to charges. There are different rules in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Read our guidance to find out more.

Immigration health surcharge

EU nationals are not currently required to pay the health surcharge.

The UK Government has confirmed that, post-Brexit, those with settled or pre-settled status will retain their current access to free NHS care.

It is possible that EU or EEA citizens applying under the new immigration system, coming into force in early 2021, may have to pay the health surcharge. This will depend on the outcome of negotiations about the future relationship.

Provisions for Ireland

British citizens who live in Ireland and Irish citizens who live in the UK will continue to have the right to access healthcare there.

The UK and Irish governments have said they are committed to continuing to help people access healthcare after the UK leaves the EU.

UK citizens returning from the EU

Former UK residents who have emigrated and no longer reside in the UK are usually chargeable for non-emergency care on short visits to the UK.

For more information read the DHSC’s guidance on implementing the overseas charging regulations.

Across the UK

The websites of the national health authorities provide more detailed information:



For further information on the BMA’s position on Brexit, please conta
ct the public affairs team:

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