Access to healthcare

Living in Europe | Health insurance | United Kingdom

Each of the four countries of the United Kingdom run a publicly funded healthcare system called the National Health Service (NHS).

Am I entitled to treatment under the NHS?

While in the UK you will be able to receive healthcare from the National Health Service (NHS) but you may have to pay for some or all of your care, depending on your residency status and how long you will stay in the UK. Below you can find out if you are eligible for free healthcare.

If you are living lawfully in the UK as an ‘ordinary resident’, then you will have the same access to healthcare as a UK citizen, and will be exempt from healthcare charges. You may still have to pay for certain eye tests, dental treatments or prescriptions.

If you are on a work or study visa you will be entitled to free NHS treatment and care. You will still have to pay for prescription charges unless you are exempt. You should ensure you have all relevant documentation as proof as your status on a work or study visa.

If you are from the European Economic Area (EEA), you may be required to pay for some or all of your medical care. To reduce any potential fees, you should bring your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). EHICs will be accepted in the UK following Brexit until their expiration date. After this EU citizens who have started residing the UK before 31 December 2020, as well as UK citizens, can apply for a renewal and get the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), issued by the UK. 

Individuals from countries with a reciprocal bilateral agreement with the UK, such as Australia, New Zealand or Russia can reduce healthcare fees by producing the relevant documents proving their citizenship.

If you are from a country outside the EEA or Switzerland which does not have a reciprocal agreement, you will need to provide proof of your reason for being in the UK, such as a work or study visa.

If you are visiting or not considered an ‘ordinary resident’ of the UK, you are entitled to free emergency treatment at a GP practice, a hospital Accident and Emergency department or a walk-in centre. Subsequent treatment as an in-patient or outpatient will not be free. If you are coming to the UK for a temporary stay longer than 6 months you will be required to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge fee at the time of your visa application in order to be covered by the NHS. 

Family planning services and treatment for certain communicable diseases are also exempt from charges (excluding HIV/AIDS where only the first consultation for diagnosis and counselling is free).

How do I register with a General Practitioner (GP)?

To register with a local GP, you will need to fill out a form provided by your local practise. This will enable you to receive an NHS number which will be used to track your medical history while in the UK.

Once you have registered you may be asked to undergo a brief medical check and will probably need to show details of your medical history.

You can find your nearest GP at the NHS websites for: