Healthcare for refugees and asylum seekers

The Scottish Government decide how healthcare is provided in Scotland. This is not linked to immigration control, which is a matter for the Home Office. 

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

If you are an asylum seeker or a refugee living in Scotland, you have the right to NHS healthcare while you are here.

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. 

Accessing healthcare

If you are an asylum seeker and you need care, you may be asked to show:

If you are a refugee and you need care, you may be asked to show:

  • your passport
  • your travel documents
  • a letter from the Home Office that says you are allowed to stay in the United Kingdom.

Find out more about accessing NHS services and treatments.

Registering with a GP

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.

GP registration cards have also been designed to support anyone who needs to register at a new GP practice.

How to register with a GP

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 Costs

Healthcare for asylum seekers 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 entitlemernt in the following publications:

Asylum support

If you receive asylum support from the Home Office you won't need to pay for your healthcare.

The Home Office should give you an HC2 certificate to show that you don’t need to pay for some treatments and to help with the cost of travelling to appointments

No asylum support

If you are seeking asylum but don't receive support from the Home Office, or you have been refused asylum, your healthcare will still be free while you are in Scotland.

Families of asylum seekers

If you are registered as an NHS patient your spouse or civil partner and children will 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.

All other family members will need to prove that they can qualify for NHS care in their own right.

Helpline for asylum seekers and refugees

Migrant Help provide a free asylum helpline on 0808 8010 503.

The Scottish Refugee Council operate an advice line for asylum seekers and refugees on 0141 223 7979.

Further information

Asylum support is provided through the Home Office.

Healthcare for Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Scotland (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

Last updated:
19 May 2022