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International Health Surcharge and Medical Insurance

Last updated: 15/11/2023 13:50

If you're coming to the UK for more than six months, you'll need to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) in order to access healthcare in the UK.

The Immigration Health Surcharge is a financial contribution to allow you access to the UK's National Health Service (NHS). You will pay the surcharge if you are a non-EEA national and you are applying for a visa to study in the UK for a period of more than 6 months.

You will also need to pay it if you are a non-EEA national who is already in the UK and you wish to apply to extend your stay.

From 16 January 2024, the cost of Immigration Health Surcharge is set at £776 per year and £388 per part-year up to 6 months. Any part-year over six months will incur the full 12-month fee. The payment must be made online at the time of submitting your visa application.

For more information, visit the Home Office pages of the GOV.UK website.

NHS coverage

If you are entitled to NHS treatment, this will cover you for:

  • the medicine you require on prescription - this is free in Wales (but not throughout the UK)
  • consulting a doctor/GP and most other GP services (for example, visiting a doctor’s surgery or clinic)
  • treatment in a hospital (both emergency and non-emergency treatment)

You are likely to pay extra for:

  • some GP services (for example, vaccinations for travel and getting a sickness certificate)
  • dental treatment
  • optical treatment (you can get free and reduced-price optician services through the University’s School of Optometry)
  • any illness or conditions which existed before you arrived in the UK

If you're staying less than six months

If you're coming for less than six months, you're not entitled to free NHS treatment. You should ensure adequate medical insurance to cover medical costs if you fall ill and possible additional costs resulting from illness.

These can be substantial and include:

  • lost fees if you are unable to complete your course
  • the cost of returning home if a relative is ill
  • cost of a relative visiting you in the UK if you fall ill
  • cost of returning to your home country for treatment
  • or, in the worst possible situation, returning a body home for burial

Taking out health insurance

You should also consider taking out insurance that covers the above additional costs because you are not entitled to free health care for illnesses that existed before you arrived in the UK or anything that happened on the way to the UK.

Even if the NHS covers you for medical treatment, you may find that there are long waiting times of several months for services. An insurance policy that gives you access to private medical care could give you much quicker access to the treatment you need.

If you already have medical insurance in your home country, check whether you can extend it to cover your stay in the UK and look at options available from UK insurers.

See the UKCISA website for further information and advice on healthcare insurance in the UK.