The NHS is a residency-based free service. For overseas visitors, except for an initial urgent consultation with a GP, there are charges.
General Practioners (GPs)
GPs are the first point of contact for nearly all NHS patients. They can direct you to other NHS services and are experts in family medicine, preventative care, health education, and treating people with multiple and long-term conditions.
If you are planning to live and work in England, you need to register with a local GP. However, being registered with a GP practice does not in itself mean you will be entitled to free NHS hospital treatment.
If you are in England for a short visit but need to see a GP, you can register as a temporary patient with a local doctor. You need to be in the area for more than 24 hours but less than three months. Treatment will be free of charge, but please ensure you present your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you have one.
Hospital treatment is free to people classed as ordinarily resident in the UK. This is not dependent on nationality, payment of UK taxes, National Insurance contributions, being registered with a GP, having a NHS number or owning property in the UK.
To be considered ordinarily resident, you must be living in the UK on a lawful and properly settled basis for the time being – you may be asked to prove this.
If you are a visitor from the EEA (European Economic Area), you will need to present a valid EHIC or other healthcare documents or you may be charged for your care.
If you are visiting England from a non-EEA country, you need to ensure you are covered for healthcare through personal medical insurance for the duration of your visit, even if you are a former UK resident.
Should you need NHS treatment and you have not arranged insurance, you will be charged at 150% of the standard NHS rate, unless an exemption category applies to either you or the treatment. If you are coming for more than six months, you may need to pay the immigration health surcharge.
Immigration Health Surcharge
If you are coming to the UK on a temporary stay of more than six months, you may be required to pay an immigration health surcharge at the time of your visa application. The standard surcharge fee is:
• £150 per year per person for students and each of their dependents
• £200 per year per person for everyone else
The full amount will be paid upfront for the duration of your visa. You can find details, including exemptions on the main government website: www.gov.uk/healthcare-immigration-application
If you have paid the surcharge or you were exempt from paying it, and your visa allows you to be here for more than six months, you will be entitled to free NHS hospital treatment in England on the same basis as an ordinarily resident person. This will apply from the date your visa is granted until it expires. You will be charged for any non-exempt treatment you received before the start date of your visa. Paying the surcharge only gives you access to services the NHS provides.