Comprehensive Sickness Insurance – who needs it?

Published on: 10/03/2017


This week, the Independent commented on the case of a French teacher, who after living in the UK since 1974, found her application for Permanent Residency was refused. The EEA national was told to get private health insurance and “try again” in 5 years’ time.   

Similarly, last week, it was reported that German PhD student Andrea Blendl was told she would be at risk of removal if she could not produce medical insurance documentation at Heathrow. On this occasion, however, the Home Office backtracked and issued a statement insisting that it will not deport EU students if they not have private healthcare.

EU free movement & the requirement for Comprehensive Sickness Insurance

On 6 April 2015, the amended Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 (the “Regulations”) came into force. These regulations require EEA nationals relying on their self-sufficient or student status to remain in the UK, to hold Comprehensive Sickness Insurance not only for themselves but also their family members in the UK.

Paragraph 4(2)(b) of the Regulations confirms that the requirement for those who are self-sufficient or students can only be satisfied if their family members in the UK also hold the cover.

The Home Office’s guidance published on 1 February 2017 instructs caseworkers to accept an EEA national or their family member as having Comprehensive Sickness Insurance if they hold “any form of insurance that will cover the costs of the majority of medical treatment they may receive in the UK”.

The guidance confirms that the definition of Comprehensive Sickness Insurance does not include:

  • Cash back health schemes such as dental, optical or prescription charges;
  • Travel insurance policies; or
  • Access to the NHS.

We are regularly finding that applicants unable to meet the Comprehensive Sickness Insurance requirement for their family members are having their applications refused. This is in particular true of EEA nationals applying for a document confirming their permanent residency

It is therefore vital that EEA nationals and their family members are aware of this rule before they make their applications to avoid risking a refusal resulting in an adverse immigration history with the Home Office.

For further information about this or any other Business Immigration matter please contact Clarkslegal's immigration team by email at by telephone 020 7539 8000 or by completing the form on this page.


This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking professional and legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.