International Students' Eligibility for Free Healthcare
Students studying more than six months, or on a course funded by the UK Government:
Under the current Regulations, anyone who comes to the UK to pursue a full-time course of study of more than six months' duration, or a course of study that is of any duration but is substantially funded by the UK Government, will be fully entitled to free NHS treatment in England.
Students studying less than six months from countries which the UK holds bilateral healthcare agreements with:
Students studying in the UK for less than six months from countries which the UK holds bilateral healthcare agreements with are only eligible for treatment of conditions that first occur when they are in the UK, providing it is considered to need immediate treatment. Elective treatment of pre-existing conditions which the GP feels can wait until the student returns home are excluded from free treatment. Exceptions are blood pressure checks, blood tests, insulin, renal dialysis, oxygen, warfarin monitoring & routine ante-natal care.
Full list of bilateral healthcare agreement countries:
European Economic Area countries (EEA):
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
Nationals from the following countries:
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, New Zealand, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine
Residents irrespective of nationality of the following countries:
Anguilla, Australia, Barbados, Bosnia-Herzegovina, British Virgin Islands, Croatia, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Macedonia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Serbia, St Helena, Turks & Caicos Islands
Students studying less than six months who are not from countries with which the UK holds bilateral healthcare agreements:
If you are here to study for less than six months on a course that is not substantially funded by the UK Government and are from a country with which the UK does not hold a bilateral healthcare agreement, then you will be charged for all treatment you receive from the NHS except for emergency care.
Healthcare entitlement for children of international students:
Children of students have exactly the same eligibility as the student.
Healthcare entitlement for partners of international students:
Generally if the partner arrived in the UK at the same time as the eligible student, and is staying for the full length of the student's course, they will have the same eligibility as the student. However, partners of international students may enter the UK on a variety of visa types, and their visa entry can overrule this statement.
We especially recommend that when partners are referred to hospital they check on their first appointment whether the hospital will have to charge them for treatment (for example for obstetric and ante-natal care, fertility treatment, etc.).
Regardless of residential status or nationality the following emergency treatments are free for international students, their partners, and their children:
- A&E (charges may apply if subsequently admitted)
- Walk-in centre
- Family planning clinic
- Compulsory psychiatric treatment
- Treatment for certain communicable diseases. (Note: For HIV only the first diagnosis appointment is free of charge).
If I need hospital treatment what documents will I need?
The Regulations place a responsibility on individual hospitals to determine whether a patient will need to pay for treatment. In order to establish entitlement, hospitals can ask you to provide documentation that supports your claim that you intend to study in the UK, or entitlement to treatment for partners of students. These are examples of evidence the hospital can ask to see:
- If not an EEA national or from Switzerland then you should have a valid student visa
- If EEA national or from Switzerland, proof of nationality - passport, EEA residence card
- Proof of attendance on a qualifying course of study, or that such a course of study has recently been completed
- Confirmation from university or college or: proof of attendance on a substantially UK government funded course
- Confirmation letter from government body confirming successful candidate and confirmation of attendance from university or college
- Partners of students will also need to produce their entry visa
Am I entitled to access Primary Care (GP) services?
Any person living here lawfully and on a settled basis (longer than six months) is regarded as resident in the UK and therefore entitled to free primary medical services. On taking up residence in the UK it is advisable to approach a GP practice and apply to register onto its list of NHS patients. The practice may choose to accept or decline your application. An application may be refused if the practice has reasonable grounds for doing so, such as if you are living outside their practice area. A practice would not be able to refuse your application on the grounds of race, gender, social class, age, religion, sexual orientation, appearance, disability or medical condition. If you experience problems finding or registering with a practice please contact NHS Bradford & Airedale.
Do I have to pay for emergency treatment if I have an accident?
Regardless of residential status or nationality, emergency treatment given at Primary Care Practices (a GP) or in Accident and Emergency departments or a Walk-in Centre providing services similar to those of a hospital Accident and Emergency department is free of charge
In the case of treatment given in an Accident and Emergency department or Walk-in Centre the exemption from charges will cease to apply once the patient is formally admitted as an in-patient (this will include emergency operations and admittance to High Dependency Units) or registered at an outpatient clinic.
Am I entitled to help with the costs of non-emergency NHS treatment?
For information on help with health costs please see HC11 'Are you entitled to help with health costs?' that is available from main post offices, social security offices and NHS hospitals. HC11 is also available to download from the NHS choices website NHS Choices.
Please note the above information gives general guidance only and should not be treated as a complete and authoritative statement of law. In all cases the Regulations place the responsibility of deciding who is entitled to receive free hospital treatment with the hospital providing treatment.
You may find the following link helpful:
Overseas visitors rights to Primary Care treatment in the UK
You can also open this UKCOSA (UK Council for International Education) guidance on keeping healthy written for international students.