International students

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).

Will I have to pay for NHS health care treatment in the UK?
Most non-EEA (non-European Economic Area) nationals applying for a UK visa will have to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) to allow them to access NHS health care. If you are an EEA national you will be entitled to use the NHS by showing that you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This must be obtained from your home country. The UK has a health care system which is paid for through workers’ taxes. All UK nationals and most residents have equal access to the NHS without being charged each time they visit a doctor or hospital. The immigration health surcharge has been introduced to help fund the NHS, and will give migrants the same access to the NHS as UK citizens.

Who has to pay?
All Tier 4 visa applications will require you to pay the IHS (Immigration Health Surcharge). If you come to study in the UK on a Standard Visits Visa you should take out private health insurance to cover the cost of any medical treatment you might require in the UK. Without any insurance you will have to pay directly for any NHS treatment you receive in the UK.

How much does it cost?
The surcharge for students and their dependants is £150 per person, per year of the visa. Part years of less than six months will be charged at £75. The health surcharge is payable in full at the time of application and is based on the overall length of visa that will be granted to you. For example; if you are studying a four year programme, you will be charged £675 (£150 per year of programme, plus £75 for the four month period at the end of the visa). Each of your dependants will also be charged the same amount.

Is anyone exempt from the charge?
Anyone applying for entry clearance for less than six months, and academic visitors coming to the UK for up to 12 months (even if they are here for more than six months) do not have to pay the surcharge. Nationals of Australia and New Zealand are also exempt and will be able to access the NHS due to reciprocal agreements with the UK government. EEA nationals are also exempt.

When do I pay the surcharge?
The Immigration Health Surcharge payment is an integrated process which is part of your online visa application. Whilst completing your visa application you will be directed to make the health surcharge payment. If you do not make this payment you will not be able to complete your visa application.

Will I also need private medical insurance?
If you have paid for the health surcharge as part of your visa application you will not need private medical insurance. If you applied to enter the UK as a visitor on a visa which is for 6 months or less you will not be entitled to free NHS health care. It is advisable therefore that you ensure you have adequate private health insurance as payment will be necessary if you receive any health care in this country.

However, the following services are free of charge for everyone:
• Emergency treatment in any Accident and Emergency department
• Emergency treatment in any NHS Walk-in Centre providing Accident and Emergency type services
• Treatment for certain infectious diseases
• Compulsory psychiatric treatment
• Family planning services (sexual health)
• The NHS does not cover for repatriation and so it is advisable for you to arrange insurance for this if required

How do I register for NHS health care?
To access health care you will need to register with a General Practitioner (GP) doctor. Most GPs work in Health Centres. GPs are general doctors who have specialised in family health; 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. Registration is free and you can only be registered with one doctor / Health Centre at any time. If you require hospital care you will need to provide the hospital with your passport, visa, NHS card and proof of attendance at university.

Information about the Victoria Park Health Centre and how to register can be found on their website The Victoria Park Health Centre usually has registration sessions during the first week of the academic year. 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 a health centre, dentist or hospital. 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.

What If I have a known health condition?
If you have an existing long term medical condition it is important that you register with the Victoria Park Health Centre who will help you with the management of your condition to reduce any impact it may have on your ability to study. Please bring with you an up to date summary from your current doctor which includes details of your condition, current management, recent test results and prescribed medication. The Information needs to be written in English and be a registered translation. Once registered with the Health Centre, make an appointment as early as possible to discuss your condition and treatment with a doctor (even if you do not have an up to date summary). Your condition may be managed differently in this country. Licencing law and prescribing requirements here can vary to those in other countries and therefore alternative medication may be prescribed for you. If you are taking medication on a long term basis you will need to bring with you 12 weeks supply. This is to ensure you have enough medication to cover you whilst you are going through the NHS registration process.

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