Healthcare for International Students
Whether you pay for healthcare during your stay in the UK will depend on your visa and/ or the documents you hold.
As an international student on a course longer than 6 months, you need to pay the immigration health surcharge as a part of your visa application to access the National Health Service (NHS).
If your course is less than 6 months, you do not need to pay the immigration health surcharge. You should make sure you have private health insurance for the duration of your stay in the UK.
If you have a valid EU-issued EHIC or are a Norwegian citizen with a valid Norwegian passport, you can access medically necessary treatment during your stay.
If you choose to use an EU-issued EHIC you may have to pay for any NHS healthcare you receive that is not deemed medically necessary.
If you are a citizen of Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland, you may have to pay for any NHS healthcare you receive. Any treatment that you need to pay for will be charged at 150% of the national NHS rate.
You should buy insurance to cover your healthcare as you would if visiting another non-EU country.
What Treatment can I get from the NHS?
Some treatment provided by the UK's NHS is free for everyone:
- accident and emergency services (but not follow-up treatment, or admission as an in-patient to hospital)
- family planning services
- diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections
- testing for Coronavirus (COVID-19) when requested by a medical professional, treatment if eligible, as well as vaccination against coronavirus. The National Health Service has detailed information about coronavirus and testing.
- treatment of conditions caused by torture, female genital mutilation, domestic violence, or sexual violence (provided you did not come to the UK for the specific purpose of seeking such treatment)
- compulsory psychiatric treatment or treatment that has been ordered by a court
- treatment in prison or immigration detention
For other treatment, there are fees for “overseas visitors”, including students, but in practice most students do not need to pay.
If you are entitled to NHS treatment, the following will be free of charge:
- Free consultation with your GP
- Free hospital treatment in Accident and Emergency
- Free hospital treatment if your GP recommends it
- Free contraceptive services
- Free maternity care
You will need to pay for:
- Medicines prescribed by your GP (referred to as prescription costs)
- Some GP services (e.g. vaccinations for travel)
To access NHS Services, you will need to be registered with a GP surgery. You can find more information on how to register with the GP here.
Secondary Healthcare Services
‘Secondary’ health care services, such as treatment in hospital, is free to people who are ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK, i.e., living lawfully in the UK without a time-limit on their stay.
Otherwise, treatment is free if:
- you paid the immigration health surcharge (IHS) for your current immigration permission.
- you applied for your current immigration permission before the immigration health surcharge was introduced on 6 April 2015.
- Certain EEA and Swiss Nationals who arrived in the UK by 31 December 2020; (see * below)
- you are a resident of the Republic of Ireland or a national of one of the countries with a reciprocal health care agreement with the UK, or
- you have been granted or have made an application for asylum, humanitarian protection or temporary protection in the UK.
- A baby born in the UK to a parent who has paid the IHS or obtained their leave before the IHS was introduced is eligible for free NHS treatment up to the age of 3 months.
As a national with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from your own country, you are entitled to full NHS treatment on the same basis as UK residents. If you have ‘pre-settled’ or ‘settled’ status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you can continue to use the NHS for free.
EEA / Swiss nationals arriving on or after 1 January 2021 would pay the IHS as part of their immigration application.
Immigration Health Surcharge
As an international student on a course longer than 6 months, you need to pay the immigration health surcharge as a part of your visa application to access the National Health Service (NHS). The full amount will be paid upfront for the duration of your visa.
Immigration Health Surcharge refund for students
You may be eligible for a full or partial refund if you meet the criteria. For more details about payment and refunds visit the UK Government Website
If your healthcare is paid for by an EU member state or Switzerland, you may be eligible for a full or partial reimbursement of your immigration health surcharge. More information is available here.
If you intend to apply for a refund of your immigration health surcharge payment based on your healthcare being paid for by an EU member state of Switzerland, you should use your EU EHIC for medically necessary treatment during your studies and pay for healthcare that is not deemed medically necessary.
If you obtain an immigration health surcharge refund you should not work in the UK. Working in the UK is very likely to invalidate your EHIC and you will need to be prepared to pay for any NHS healthcare you receive.
If you paid the immigration health surcharge for your current period of immigration permission, you will not have to pay any hospital fees.
If you are using the Standard Visitor route or the Short-term Study route you should make sure you have private health insurance for the duration of your stay.
More Information is available here.
Last Updated: 27th April 2023