NHS treatment is not free for everyone, it is a residency based service provided to anyone who is "ordinarily resident" in the UK.
This means someone who lives lawfully on a settled basis in the UK. If you require hospital treatment you may be asked to provide evidence that you are "ordinarily resident" in the UK.
Below are a few questions you may have. Select a topic to find out more.
Is any treatment free?
- Accident and Emergency care is free to everyone.
- Family planning services - except pregnancy termination and fertility treatment
- Treatment for most infectious diseases
All non-urgent/elective care needs to be paid for in advance.
Can treatment be refused/delayed?
No urgent / emergency care can be refused or delayed but you may still have to pay.
All other treatment (elective/non-urgent) will need to be paid for in advance.
Information of any unpaid treatment is shared with the Home Office which could affect future Visa applications.
People with unpaid bills may be stopped by immigration on entry to the UK.
This Trust recommends entry to the UK is refused until payment is made.A full list of the guidance can be found here.
I’m visiting from the EEA, can I get free treatment?
If you fall ill or have a medical emergency during your temporary stay in England you can continue to use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or Provisional Replacement Card (PRC) which will cover treatment that becomes medically necessary until you return to your home country. It will also cover care for pre-existing conditions and routine maternity care, providing you have not travelled for the purposes of seeking care. Please be advised that in the event of an EHIC or PRC not being provided within 48 hours of attendance you will be required to pay for your care and seek re-imbursement from your ‘healthcare abroad team’ on your return home.
It is the individuals responsibility to present an EHIC or PRC, details of how to obtain a PRC are provided here:
- European Commission: https://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1028&langId=en
Alternatively, you can download the EHIC app to your smartphone and within the ‘I lost my card’ section, select your country and contact details for your health insurance provider will be made available.
Visitors from Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland who’s visits began prior to 31st December 2020 can continue to use their EHIC to access healthcare for the duration of your stay. From 1st January most visitors from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland may be required to pay for their treatment. Any treatment provided will be charged at 150% of the national NHS rate.
Visitors from Norway can access medically necessary healthcare using a valid Norwegian passport.
More information can be found here.
I’m visiting from outside the EEA will I need to pay?
Yes in most cases. If you have insurance you will need to pay for your care and claim this back from the insurance. If we are provided with a “guarantee to pay” from the insurance we will be able to accept payment direct from them .
The Trust is not regulated with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) with regards to payments via instalments and is therefore not permitted to accept payment terms over periods longer than twelve months.
I paid the Health Surcharge, is all my treatment free?
Yes (except assisted conception), but only with a valid Visa and you must provide evidence of both.
As of 21st August 2017 Assisted Conception including fertility services are no longer covered under the Health Surcharge agreement.
If the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), applied to your Visa application please complete this form and return it to the Overseas Patient Manager on
Please be advised that the Immigration Health Surcharge applies from the date the Visa application is accepted and not from the date of payment.
What are Reciprocal Healthcare Agreements?
Some countries hold a Reciprocal Healthcare Agreement with the UK.If you are visiting from one of these countries you will need to provide evidence that you are a national/resident in that country.
I have a British passport but live in another country, can I still get free treatment?
No, you need to be “ordinarily resident” in the UK.
What happens if I don’t pay for treatment I have had?
If you fail to pay for treatment you have received your information is shared with the Home Office. This could affect future Visa applications.
People with unpaid bills may be stopped by immigration on entry to the UK.
This Trust recommends entry to the UK is refused until payment is made.
Moving from the EEA, can I get free treatment?
The NHS operates a residence-based healthcare system. Most NHS services are free to people who are ordinarily resident in the UK. This means living in the UK on a lawful and properly settled basis for the time being. You may be asked to prove this when seeking healthcare. If you are not ordinarily resident in the UK, you will be an overseas visitor and may be charged for NHS services. For a detailed definition of what being ordinarily resident means, see the GOV.UK guidance.
If you are a citizen of an EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, and were living lawfully in the UK on or before 31 December 2020, you will be able to use the NHS in England provided you can demonstrate you are ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK. If you wish to continue residing in the UK, to maintain your entitlement to free NHS healthcare after 30 June 2021, you must apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. Once you have been granted either pre-settled or settled status, or while your application is pending, you will not be charged for your healthcare, as long as you continue to be ordinarily resident in the UK. You may be asked to show that you hold pre-settled or settled status when seeking healthcare. If you do not apply by 30 June 2021, you could lose your right to access free healthcare.
You may be entitled to NHS healthcare paid for by an EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, if you were living lawfully in the UK on or before 31 December 2020, and hold an S1 certificate, for example because you receive either a state pension or certain ‘exportable’ benefits from that country, or if you are a frontier worker (someone who lives in an EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, and works in the UK), or a posted worker (someone who usually works in one country but is sent temporarily to work in to another). If you do not have an S1 certificate, you can apply for one from the relevant health insurance authority.
Irish citizens do not need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, although they may do so if they wish. Irish citizens living in the UK will continue to access healthcare in the UK on the same terms as a UK resident.
Studying in the UK?
If you began studying in the UK on or before 31 December 2020, you may continue to use your EHIC for medically necessary healthcare until the end of your course in the UK. You must apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if your course extends beyond 30 June 2021.
More information can be found here Healthcare for EU citizens living in or moving to the UK - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
For more information on the EU Settlement Scheme, see the Home Office guidance.
How do I find out more information?
If you have any further questions, please complete this form and return it to
For details on the charging regulations, please see the Charging Regulations.
The NHS website has information about visiting or moving to England that you may find helpful.