International students - A guide to The National Health Service (NHS)

The National Health Service (NHS) might seem very complicated if you have not used the system before. The NHS is a public funded system which provides health care for residents in the United Kingdom (UK).

1. New Surcharge for health care treatment from the NHS

From April 6th 2015 the rules will change, please read below :

  • The Health surcharge will be paid by non-EEA nationals who apply to come to the UK to work, study or join family for a time-limited period of more than 6 months
  • It will also be paid by non -EEA nationals who are already in the UK and apply to extend their stay
  • The Surcharge is set at £150 per visa year for students. This means that a student who applies for leave to study a 12 month course will be charged £225 (as leave can be granted for a maximum period of 17th months) The charge is calculated as £150 (one year) plus £75 (any additional period of 6 months or less is charged at the rate of half the annual amount)
  • Payment of the surcharge will be a mandatory requirement and will be paid as part of the immigration process. Applicants MUST make sure they have completed their immigration application and paid the surcharge for the duration of their visa 
  • Austrailian and New Zealand nationals must still complete the process through the surcharge website. They will be informed the payment is nil but receive a unique surcharge reference number. This number is needed for their immigration application.

More information will be available on the Home Office website after April 6th

* If you are a student from another country in the European Union, here for less than 6 months, you will require a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which must be obtained from your home country.

2. Will I need health care insurance?

If you are here for less than 6 months you are required to obtain health insurance from your own country and provide evidence of this as part of the immigration process.

3. How do I register for health care?

To access health care you will need to register with a General Practitioner (GP) doctor. Most GPs work in a health centre. GPs are general doctors who have specialised in family health. He or she is therefore qualified to see anyone from small babies to the elderly. The University advises students to register at the Victoria Park Health Centre. Doctors, nurses and administrative staff at the Victoria Park Health Centre have expertise in ‘student health’ and they work closely with the University to support students at times of ill health.

Information about the Victoria Park Health Centre and how to register can be found on their website The Victoria Park Health Centre usually have registration sessions during the first week of the academic year in halls of residence. It is advisable to register during your first week. However, if this is not possible, registration can be done at any time. When you register, the health centre will require your address in Leicester, the date you came into the country, your library card or proof of registration with the University.

Victoria Park Health Centre will register students and staff living locally. Information about other health centres can be found at

Once you have registered with a GP/health centre you will be sent an NHS card.  This is proof that you are registered for NHS treatment. If you have not received the card within two months of registering, contact the health centre who will advise what you should do. The card will be sent to the address you provided so it is essential that you notify the health centre if your address changes. When you receive the card, keep it safe and take it with you if you visit the health centre, dentist or hospital.

4. Will I have to pay to register?

  • Registration is free
  • You can only be registered with one GP/health centre at any time.

If you are exempt from NHS Charges and require hospital care you will need to provide your passport, visa, NHS card and proof of attendance at university.


5. Health care for family or friends visiting from abroad.

Family or friends visiting from abroad should take adequate health care insurance if they are not eligible for a European Health Insurance Card. The Victoria Park Health Centre will usually register and see visitors as temporary residents if they require urgent necessary care.

6. What if I have a diagnosed condition or awaiting diagnosis?

If when you come to University you have a pre existing condition, are already under the care of a ‘specialised’ team either receiving treatment or waiting for an appointment, it is still advisable to register at the Victoria Park Health Centre. On arrival, once registered, make an appointment to discuss with one of the GPs who will then be in a better position to help while you are here in Leicester and to communicate with the relevant doctors.

If you require more specialised or hospital services you will need to be referred by a GP.

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