Immigration health surcharge

NHS Scotland does not pass patient details to the Home Office for the purpose of immigration enforcement.

Visa applications are controlled by the UK government and, as part of your application, you may have to pay a healthcare surcharge, also known as an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). However, this will depend on the immigration status you are applying for.

The Immigration Health Surcharge was introduced throughout the UK on 6th April 2015 by an order taken from the UK Immigration Act 2014.

The Home Office maintain that the health provisions in the Immigration Act 2014 support immigration policy, which is a reserved matter for the UK Government.

This page has been revised following the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Who will be asked to pay?

This surcharge applies to visitors who wish to enter the UK for more than 6 months, and require a visa to do so.

Following the UK’s exit from the European Union, citizens from the EU, EEA and Switzerland who enter the UK after 1 January 2021 may now have to pay this surcharge.

You do not need to pay this surcharge if, for example, you are applying for a visitor visa, health and care worker visa or to remain in the UK permanently.

How much will I need to pay?

The price you pay will depend on your age and the type of visa you are applying for. For example, you will need to pay:

  • £470 per year for each year you remain in the UK if you're applying for a Student or Youth Mobility Scheme visa
  • £470 per year if you're under the age of 18 at the time of application
  • £624 per year for all other visa and immigration applications

You will also need to pay this surcharge for spouses, dependent children and civil partners who are coming to the UK.

When is it payable?

The surcharge must be paid up-front and in total, along with visa fees, for the full period covered by your visa before you can enter the UK. The surcharge will also be applied if a visa extension is granted.

Refunds

You may be eligible to claim a refund of all or part of this surcharge depending on your circumstances.

For example, you may be eligible for a refund if you:

  • work in the health and social care sector in the UK
  • study a full-time course of higher education in the UK, have a student visa which started on or after 1 January 2021 and do not work while you are here
  • moved to the UK on or after 1 January 2021 and have been issued with an S1 document by an EU Member State

Further information

The UK Government website provides more information about the immigration health surcharge, including when and how much you will need to pay.

Registering for healthcare

In order to receive care, you will need to register with a GP as soon as you arrive in Scotland.

If you need an interpreter, ask the GP surgery to arrange this for you. When you make an appointment, tell them what language you prefer to use.

How to register with a GP

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

People who have come to Scotland to work, study or claim asylum (including refugees) will not pay for any coronavirus tests or treatments they need. 

More about the coronavirus arrangements for overseas visitors

Emergency care

If you or a member of your family are unwell and your GP surgery and pharmacist are closed, phone the NHS 24 111 service.

NHS 24 provide an interpreting service if english is not your first or preferred language.

NHS charges

When living in Scotland and in possession of a valid visa, the following people are exempt from NHS charges for the duration of their stay:

  • International students studying on a recognised full-time course
  • Migrant workers
  • Those joining a spouse or civil partner who is ordinarily resident in Scotland

These exemptions are detailed in the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) (Scotland) Regulations 1989, as amended.

Overseas students

The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020. EU citizens currently living in the UK will have to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021 if they want to keep living in the UK after this date. You can find more information on the Scottish Government website.

If you are coming to Scotland to study full-time, and you live in Scotland lawfully, you can get healthcare from the NHS from the day you arrive until one month after your course finishes.

You may also get healthcare from the NHS if you are a part-time student and you are also working in Scotland.

Accessing healthcare

If you are from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland and you need care, you may be asked to show:

  • your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
  • a letter from your university or college which confirms that you have a place on a full-time course - the letter should say when your course starts and how long it lasts for

If you are not from the EEA or Switzerland and you need care, you may be asked to show:

  • your student visa
  • a letter from your university or college which confirms that you have a place on a full-time course - the letter should say when your course starts and how long it lasts for

Healthcare Costs

Healthcare for overseas students and their families is free for the most part. There are, however, some treatments that may incur a cost.

The Scottish Government provide information about health costs and entitlement in the following publications:

Families of overseas students

If you are registered as an NHS patient your partner and children might also qualify for healthcare. If you have children they must be aged under 16, or under 19 and in full-time education.

Staff at the GP surgery will ask you to fill in a form to register your family. You may need to show your marriage or civil partnership certificate, and birth certificates for your children to complete the registration process.

Family from the EEA or Switzerland

If you have other members of family from the EEA or Switzerland they can also get healthcare from the NHS.

To do so they must have an EHIC and register with a GP.

Family not from the EEA or Switzerland

If you have other members of family not from the EEA or Switzerland they may be entitled to healthcare if they have been allowed to join you in Scotland.

To do so, an EEA family permit is issued overseas to nationals of countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who are family members of EEA nationals.

The UK Border Agency has more information on the EEA family permit.

Helpline for overseas students

The UKCISA provide an advice line for overseas students on 020 3131 3576.

The advice line is open Monday to Friday from 1.00pm to 4.00pm

Healthcare for People Coming to Scotland to Study (Factsheet)

This information is also available as a factsheet, which has been translated into different languages and formats - including audio and large print.

Print-ready versions for professionals are also available.

Download a factsheet

Overseas workers

The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020. EU citizens currently living in the UK will have to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021 if they want to keep living in the UK after this date. You can find more information on the Scottish Government website.

If you are coming to Scotland to work, and you live in Scotland lawfully, you can get healthcare from the NHS while you are here.

You may also get healthcare from the NHS if you:

  • work on a ship registered in the UK 
  • work offshore in UK territory
  • have come to Scotland to work as an unpaid volunteer providing services within or similar to health or social services.

Accessing healthcare

If you are from the European Economic Area (EEA) (except Switzerland) and you need care, you may be asked to show your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

If you need care and you're from Switzerland or not from the EEA, you may be asked to show:

  • your workers permit
  • a recent letter from your employer, work contract or current payslip if you are employed
  • invoices or work receipts if you are self-employed
  • a letter from the organisation you work for that says what type of voluntary work you do.

Healthcare Costs

Healthcare for overseas workers and their families is free for the most part. There are, however, some treatments that may incur a cost.

The Citizens Advice Bureau provides advice regarding NHS charges for people from abroad

The Scottish Government provide information about health costs and entitlement in the following publications:

Families of overseas workers

If you are registered as an NHS patient your partner and children might also qualify for healthcare. If you have children they must be aged under 16, or under 19 and in full-time education.

Staff at the GP surgery will ask you to fill in a form to register your family. You may need to show your marriage or civil partnership certificate, and birth certificates for your children to complete the registration process.

Family from the EEA or Switzerland

If you have other members of family from the EEA or Switzerland they can also get healthcare from the NHS.
 
To do so they must have an EHIC and register with a GP.

Family not from the EEA or Switzerland

If you have other members of family not from the EEA or Switzerland they may be entitled to healthcare if they have been allowed to join you in Scotland.

To do so, an EEA family permit is issued overseas to nationals of countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who are family members of EEA nationals.

The UK Border Agency has more information on the EEA family permit

Emergency care

If you or a member of your family are unwell and your GP surgery and pharmacist are closed, phone the NHS 24 111 service.

NHS 24 provide an interpreting service if english is not your first or preferred language.

Healthcare for People Coming to Scotland to Work (Factsheet)

This information is also available as a factsheet, which has been translated into different languages and formats - including audio and large print.

Print-ready versions for professionals are also available.

Download a factsheet

Tourists and holidaymakers

If you are coming to Scotland on holiday or to visit friends or relatives, you may have to pay for any healthcare you need while you are here.

You should always get travel insurance with medical cover before your trip.

Accessing healthcare

If you need treatment while you are in the UK, NHS staff may want to see:

  • your passport or national identity card
  • documents showing where you live that prove you are registered for work or receive health care in your own country

If you don’t have these you may need to pay for any care you receive.

More about accessing NHS services and treatments

Healthcare costs

Holidaymakers eligibility to receive free healthcare while in Scotland will depend on their individual circumstances. However, access to emergency treatment is free until the overseas patient is stabilised.

European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland citizens

If you normally live in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you will not have to pay any treatment while you are here. This includes treatment for an illness or condition you had before you travelled and routine maternity care.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

Before you travel to Scotland you must get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in your own country.

NHS staff may ask to see your EHIC before starting any treatment. If you don’t have an EHIC, they might not be able to treat you as an NHS patient and you may need to pay for any care you receive.

If you're normally resident in the Republic of Ireland (RoI) you don't need an EHIC card to receive NHS treatment in Scotland.

However, if you have an EHIC you can show it to NHS staff. If you don't have an EHIC they might ask to see proof that you're normally resident in the RoI. This could be your Irish passport or driving licence.

Non-EEA or Switzerland citizens

If you don’t normally live in the EEA or Switzerland and your country does not have an agreement with the UK you will need to pay for all of your healthcare.

Medical repatriation

If you become ill or have an accident and need transport with medical support to go back to your home country, you will have to pay for this. This is not not covered by the EHIC, or by any arrangements with countries outside the EEA.

Emergency prescriptions

If you run out of medicine while you are visiting, you can find a local GP surgery and ask to make an appointment.

The GP will decide if you can be registered as a temporary resident and may ask to see:

  • your EHIC card
  • your passport
  • a document showing where you live

If you are registered as a temporary resident, you will not need to pay to see the GP.

Medicines without a prescription

Alternatively, you can find a local pharmacy and ask the pharmacist for a small supply of the medicines you need.

If the pharmacist agrees to do this, you will need to pay the full price for the medicines.

Healthcare in Scotland for Holidaymakers from Overseas (Factsheet)

This information is also available as a factsheet, which has been translated into different languages and formats - including audio and large print.

Print-ready versions for professionals are also available.

Download a factsheet