Immigration health surcharge

A health surcharge (called 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 surcharge applies to the following categories of visitors who wish to enter the UK for more than 6 months, and require a visa to do so:

  • non-European Economic Area (EEA) students (international students)
  • non-EEA migrant workers
  • those from outside the EEA who are joining their families in the UK.

How much will I need to pay?

The price you pay will depend on your reason for visiting the UK:

  • If you're visiting the UK to study — you'll need to pay £150 per year for each year you remain in the UK (this also applies to spouses / dependent children / civil partners)
  • If you're visiting the UK to work — you'll need to pay £200 per year for each year you remain in the UK (this also applies to spouses / dependent children / civil partners)
  • If you’re visiting the UK to join your family — you'll need to pay £200 per year for each year you remain in the UK (this also applies to spouses / dependent children / civil partners)

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.

NHS charges

When living in Scotland and in possession of a valid visa, international students studying on a recognised full-time course, migrant workers and those joining a spouse or civil partner who is ordinarily resident in Scotland, are exempt from charges for hospital healthcare under an exemption in the NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) (Scotland) Regulations for the duration of their visa.

GOV.UK 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

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.

Asylum seekers and refugees

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

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.

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 UK Border Agency you won't need to pay for your healthcare.

The UK Border Agency will give you a 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 or 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

The Scottish Refugee Council operate an advice line for asylum seekers and refugees on 0800 085 6087.

This service is free to phone and is open from 9.00am to 5.00pm.

Further information

Asylum support and health through the UK Border Agency.

The Scottish Refugee Council also provide information for asylum seekers in the leaflet – How to Access Health Care in Scotland (PDF, 454KB).

Overseas students

If you are coming to Scotland to study, and you live in Scotland legally, 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

The United Kingdom has special healthcare arrangements with some countries outside the EEA. The Scottish Government provides details of who is entitled to healthcare through reciprocal agreements.

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 entitlemernt 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

Overseas workers

If you are coming to Scotland to work, and you live in Scotland legally, 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 pay slip 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.

The United Kingdom has special healthcare arrangements with some countries outside the EEA. The Scottish Government provides details of who is entitled to healthcare through reciprocal agreements.

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 entitlemernt 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.

Further information

The Scottish Government provide more information for overseas visitors regarding the health service.

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 emergancy 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

The UK has special arrangements with some countries outside the EEA. If you come from one of those countries you will be able to get some free healthcare while you are here.

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.

The Scottish Government provides details of who is entitled to healthcare through reciprocal agreements.

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.

If you are not registered as a temporary resident, you may need to pay to see the GP and pay the full price for each medicine on the prescription.

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.

Further information

The Scottish Government provide more information for overseas visitors regarding the health service.