August the 9th, 2023 – Navigating the often needlessly complicated world of Croatian health insurance can be a headache. Like many systems here, things can either be straightforward or dependent on your very individual situation. Let’s delve into the UK’s S1 form and what that means if you have one and are living in Croatia.
First things first, what is the S1 form?
If you’re drawing a UK state pension or you have some other form of British exportable benefit, and you’re living in the Republic of Croatia, you’re most likely entitled to an S1 form, as GOV.UK explains. The S1 form entitles you to state healthcare paid for by the UK as opposed to the Croatian state. It’s important to note that not all technically exportable UK benefits entitle you to an S1 form. Here’s a handy list of those which are exportable.
Who is entitled to an S1 form?
As stated above, if you’re drawing your UK state pension or you have some other kind of exportable benefit issued by the UK, you’re likely entitled to one. The emphasis is here is on the word likely. Don’t simply assume. You can check your eligibility by clicking here.
Even if you’re not drawing a UK state pension, you may still be entitled to an S1 form if you’re in Croatia temporarily, having been sent there by your employer as a posted worker. You can find out more about your national insurance as a temporary non-UK resident and posted worker here. In addition to using an S1 form (if you’re eligible as a posted or detached worker sent from the UK to an EEA country), you can also use your GHIC or your UK-issued EHIC, if the latter is still valid.
Much like posted workers, you may be entitled to an S1 form if you’re temporarily in Croatia (in this case, working in one country but actually registered as living in another). HMRC has a helpline you can call for all your questions regarding this.
How do I get an S1 form?
In order to get your hands on this form which will see the UK cover your healthcare expenses in Croatia, you’ll need to contact the NHS Overseas Healthcare Services by phone. When in contact, you’ll need to ask them for an S1 application form. The contact details of this service are detailed below:
NHS Overseas Healthcare Services
Telephone: +44 (0)191 218 1999
Monday to Friday, 08:00 – 18:00
Saturday, 09:00 – 15:00
Once you’ve applied and been granted an S1 form, you’ll need to register it with the powers that be in Croatia (I know, I can hear how thrilled you are). Once that’s done through HZZO (the Croatian Health Insurance Fund), you and your UK dependants will be covered by it and entitled to healthcare on the same basis as Croatian nationals and permanent residents. You should make sure to find out precisely what Croatia considers to be a dependant in this case, as it may vary from what the UK deems one to be.
One important point to note is that once any of your registered dependants begin drawing their own UK state pensions, their health insurance through you will cease and they’ll need to apply for their own S1 form. The same process of them registering their S1 form with the Croatian Health Insurance Fund must then be undertaken. You need to keep the NHS Overseas Healthcare Services updated of any changes to your address or contact details.
Registering your S1 form at your local HZZO office
I mentioned registering your S1 form with the Croatian Health Insurance Fund above, so I’ll get into the details now. There are many different local Croatian Health Insurance Fund offices dotted all over the country, so you’ll need to locate the one closest to your registered address in Croatia. You can easily use Google Maps for this, but there’s also a handy list, so just click on your city or area (Zagreb, Osijek, Pazin, Dubrovnik, Split etc).
Now comes the waiting game, and if you’ve spent any time trying to get anything done administratively while living in Croatia, you’ll know that the waiting game is part of just about everything you’ll ever do involving paperwork here. It can take three months for your health insurance card to arrive. Thankfully, however, you’ll be given a letter there and then confirming your coverage, so if you need to seek medical treatment, the letter will suffice.
Holding an S1 form means you and your dependants are entitled to state healthcare on the same basis as a Croatian citizen or permanent resident. It doesn’t mean it is free like it is in the UK. Much like in the UK, where certain things are not free, such as dental care, eye care and prescriptions, Croatian citizens and permanent residents need to pay small symbolic fees for certain things called co-payments.