Access to health care for overseas visitors

Access to the NHS is universal, but depending on your immigration status within the UK, you may be charged for accessing certain services. However, there are certain services that are free to everyone:

  • treatment given in an accident and emergency (A&E) department – this does not include any further treatment following an admission to hospital
  • treatment for certain infectious diseases (but for HIV/AIDS, only the first diagnosis and counselling that follows it are free)
  • compulsory psychiatric treatment
  • family planning services – this does not include termination of pregnancy or infertility treatments

Who will not be charged for accessing the NHS?

You will not be charged for any NHS treatment if you are ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK, or if an exemption to charging applies.

Ordinarily resident

The full definition of ordinarily resident for the purposes of accessing NHS services can be found on the NHS website and is summarized as follows:

“A person will be ordinarily resident in the UK when that residence is lawful, adopted, voluntary, and for settled purposes as part of the regular order of their life for the time being, whether of short or long duration.”

In practice, you are normally ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK if you are living and working in the UK and are:

  • a British citizen
  • naturalised within the UK
  • settled within the UK (commonly referred to as holding Indefinite Leave to Remain)

British citizens/EEA/Swiss nationals who are visiting the UK may be charged for NHS services they receive at the point of accessing care. The final decision to charge will rest with the healthcare provider.

EU nationals

A valid European Health Insurance Card gives EEA nationals the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland:

  • anyone insured for healthcare in another EEA member state or Switzerland and who - for medically necessary treatment - presents either a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from that member state or a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) for that card, or - for elective treatment - presents an S2 document for that treatment
  • the spouse/civil partner and children under 18 of the above are also exempt when lawfully visiting the UK with them

Non-EEA nationals and the NHS Surcharge

Any non-EEA national, subject to immigration control, is exempt from charge for accessing any NHS services if one of the following applies to them while their leave to enter/remain is still valid:

  • they have paid the NHS surcharge when making their visa application
  • they would have been covered under one of the above, but for the fact that they applied for leave to enter or remain in the UK before the NHS surcharge was implemented (6 April 2015)

Please note

A child born in the UK to an exempt person is also exempt from charge provided they are under 3 months old.


Who will be charged for accessing the NHS?

Non-EEA nationals who are visiting the UK and have not paid the NHS surcharge (commonly those entering on a visitor visa/sought entry at the UK border), including those who hold long-term multiple entry visas, will be charged for accessing NHS services (except the free services noted above).

British citizens/EEA/Swiss nationals who are visiting the UK may be charged for NHS services they receive at the point of accessing care. The final decision to charge will rest with the healthcare provider.

Medical insurance

It is recommended that you are covered for healthcare through private 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 could be charged at 150% of the standard NHS rate.

Finding a GP and Dentist and registering as a patient

General practitioners (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're planning to live and work in England, you need to register with a local GP. You'll need to fill out a GMS1 form using exactly the same details you used when you filled out your visa. It's up to the GP practice to decide whether to accept new patients or not, but they can only refuse for non-discriminatory reasons. But being registered with a GP practice does not in itself mean you'll be entitled to free NHS hospital treatment. Being registered with a GP practice may mean you're invited for screening services, but you may still have to pay for these services when they're not provided by the GP practice.

If you're 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 3 months. Again, it's up to the GP practice to decide whether or not they'll accept new patients. Treatment will be free of charge, but make sure you present your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you have one - see below for advice for citizens of EU countries, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.





Everyone should be able to access good-quality NHS dental services. There is no need to register with a dentist in the same way as with a GP because you are not bound to a catchment area. Simply find a dental practice that's convenient for you, whether it's near your home or work, and phone them to see if there are any appointments available. If you do not have a regular dental practice or are new to the area, you can search for an NHS dentist. Dental practices won't always have the capacity to take on new NHS patients – you may have to join a waiting list, look for a different dentist who is taking on new NHS patients, or be seen privately.

Once you find a dental practice, you may have to fill in a registration form at your first visit, which is purely to add you to their patient database. However, that does not mean you have guaranteed access to an NHS dental appointment in the future. The NHS will provide any clinically necessary treatment needed to keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy and free of pain. Decisions about which treatment is appropriate will be based on a clinical assessment and clinical judgement. Your dentist must make clear which treatments can be provided on the NHS and which can only be provided on a private basis, and the costs associated for each.



Contact us

Occupational Health Services

10 Parks Road

Oxford OX1 3PD

 01865 (2)82676


Opening hours

 Monday - Thursday: 8.30am to 1pm and 2 to 5pm

 Friday: 8.30am to 1pm and 2 to 4pm


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