Overseas visitors

This page will provide information about overseas visitors, including how you can prove your residency, and what happens if you don’t pay for necessary NHS treatment.

How do we define overseas visitors?

Those who are not ordinarily resident in the UK, including former UK residents, are overseas visitors and may be charged for NHS services if no exemption applies.

NHS hospitals have a legal duty to establish whether you need to pay for treatment and, where appropriate, charge you for your care.

How we establish UK residency

UK residency usually applies if you are living in the UK on a lawful and settled basis. It is not guaranteed by:

  • British nationality
  • Being registered with a GP
  • Having an NHS number
  • Owning property in the UK
  • Having paid (or currently paying) National Insurance contributions and UK taxes

If you cannot provide documents to prove your UK residency, you may have to pay a deposit equal to the estimated cost of any routine treatment. You will need to pay the deposit before your appointment goes ahead.

If a doctor or nurse determines that your treatment is urgent, or if you need maternity services, the treatment can go ahead and an invoice will be sent to you afterwards.   

Documents you can use to prove your residency

You can use the following documents as proof of UK residency. You must provide one photographic document for identity purposes, and an additional document as proof of your address.

Photographic identity can include:

  • A current, signed passport
  • Biometric residence permit – issued by the Home Office
  • Valid UK photo-card driving licence
  • EU or Swiss national identity photo card
  • Application registration card (ARC)
  • Valid armed forces or police photographic identity card

Proof of address documents must contain your current address and be less than six months old. This includes:

  • A recent original utility bill such as gas, electric, water or landline telephone. (We do not accept mobile phone bills.)
  • Council tax bill for the current year
  • Recent original mortgage statement from a recognised lender
  • Current council house or housing association tenancy agreement, or rent book
  • Notification letter from the Department for Work and Pensions confirming your National Insurance number, entitlement to benefits or state pension

If you live in the European Union (EU) countries or Switzerland

If you need treatment during your visit to the UK, you will need to show your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). If you do not have an EHIC, you will need to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC). A PRC will provide the same cover as an EHIC until you return home.

If you do not have either of these documents, and cannot demonstrate that you’re exempt from charges, you’ll need to pay for your treatment. You can recover the costs from your healthcare abroad team when you return home.

Applying for a PRC?

It is your responsibility to apply for a PRC and provide it the hospital. To apply for a PRC contact your country’s issuing authority. You can find their contact details on the European Commission website.

If you do not pay

If you fail to pay for necessary NHS treatment, any future applications to remain or enter the UK may be denied. The Home Office may receive necessary, non-clinical information via the Department of Health and Social Care for this purpose.

Which NHS services are free to everyone?

Some services or treatments carried out in an NHS hospital are free to everyone. These include:

  • Family planning services (this excludes abortions)
  • Treatment of most infectious diseases, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Emergency Department services up to the point you are admitted as an inpatient or given an outpatient appointment. This means that you will need to pay for emergency treatment elsewhere in the hospital or urgent treatment after admission.

If you need more help

Contact the Overseas Visitors Team from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm:

Visit the NHS website for more information on how to access NHS services if you’re an overseas visitor.

Text Size

Change font