NHS hospital treatment is not free for everyone. If you are visiting the United Kingdom (UK) or you are not an ordinary UK resident and require treatment in our hospitals, you may have to pay for your treatment. Please contact the Hospital Overseas Visitors Team to obtain estimated costs or to check your NHS eligibility.
An overseas patient is someone who is not ordinarily resident in the UK and does not permanently live in the UK. If you are visiting the UK or have lived outside the UK in last 12 months, you may have to pay for the NHS hospital treatment whilst you are here. This is regardless of whether you are a British Citizen, born in the UK, have an NHS number, have National Insurance Number, have property in the UK, currently paying tax, have paid tax in the past or have lived or worked here in the past.
A person does not become ordinarily resident in the UK and entitled to free NHS treatment simply by: Having an NHS number;
Having British nationality;
Holding a British passport;
Being registered with a GP;
Owning property in the UK;
Paying or previously paying National Insurance contributions and taxes in this
Whether a person is ordinarily resident is based on a number of factors which will be taken into account and evidence required.
NHS services and treatments which are free for everyone
Some NHS services are free to everyone. These include:
- Family-planning services (NB: this does not include maternity treatment and termination of pregnancy).
- Treatment at the Emergency Department (A&E). This is free only up to the point an overseas visitor is admitted as an inpatient, or given an outpatient appointment. It does not, therefore, include emergency treatment given after admission to the hospital as an in-patient or out-patient. Treatment at this point is chargeable to non-exempt visitors.
- Diagnosis and treatment of certain infectious diseases.
Who is exempt from charges?
Some visitors to the UK are entitled to NHS hospital treatment free of charge. These include people working for UK-based employers and who have paid Health Surcharge or who are covered under certain Reciprocal Agreements.
How can I prove that I am entitled to free hospital treatment?
NHS hospitals have a duty to identify and charge overseas patients for hospital treatment they receive. Hospitals are required to check documentary evidence of entitlement to prove that you are ordinarily resident in the UK.
If you can’t provide the documents you may have to pay a deposit equal to the estimated cost of your treatment before you receive an appointment or treatment. Inline with the UK Charging Regulations patients with outstanding debts are reported to the Home Office and payments are collected through the Debt Collector Agencies and it may affect their UK Visa status or entry to the UK.
Overseas Visitors Privacy Notice (PDF)
Updated January 2020