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Help with health costs

Save money with the prescription prepayment certificate (PPC)

Download the Prescription Prepayment Certificate poster (PDF, 14.4 mb)

Did you know you can save money on your prescription charges?

If you know you’ll have to pay for a lot of NHS prescriptions it may be cheaper to buy a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) – effectively a prescription 'season ticket'. A PPC covers you for all of your own NHS prescriptions, including dental prescriptions, no matter how many items you need. However, this does not include other health costs, for example the provision of wigs and fabric supports which are only provided through the hospital service.There are two PPC options to choose from:

  1. A three month PPC costs £29.10 and will save you money if you need four or more items in the three months
  2. A 12 month PPC costs £104.00 and will save you money if you need more than 13 items in a year

How much can I save?

  • If you need two items each month you can save around £90 with a 12 month PPC
  • If you need three items each month you can save around £180 with a 12 month PPC
  • If you need four items each month you can save around £280 with a 12 month PPC

There are several payment options available. If you choose the 12 month PPC, you can pay for this by 10 monthly direct debit instalments.

How to apply for a PPC

Please check if you are entitled to free prescriptions before you apply for your PPC.

It's quickest to buy your PPC online. The PPC will start from the day you submit your application, unless you request a different start date. However, the start date must be within one month before or after the date of your application.

If you prefer talking to someone, you can call the PPC order line on 0300 330 1341. Again, your certificate is valid from the day you make the phone call unless you request otherwise.

Ensure you have your bank details or credit/debit card details ready.

TipAlthough the PPC is valid from the day of your application it may take a couple of days to receive your certificate. This means, until your PPC arrives you may have to pay for your prescription in advance and ask for a refund afterwards.

You can apply by post as well. Complete and sign your application form and send it with a cheque, postal order or credit/debit card details to:

NHS Help with Health Costs
PPC Issue Office
PO Box 854
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE99 2DE

Print off a PPC application form here (PDF, 6.2 mb) or pick one up from your GP surgery or pharmacy.

Some pharmacies may be able to sell you a prescription prepayment certificate. However, you won’t be able to pay via direct debit if you purchase from a pharmacist. Please either contact your local pharmacy or view the list of registered pharmacies on the NHSBSA website (bottom of the page) to find out who is selling PPCs.

Useful tips


Remember to apply for a new PPC in good time, otherwise you will have to pay full prescription charges if your PPC runs out.

If you have to pay for prescriptions while you are waiting for a new PPC and need to apply for a refund, ask the pharmacist for a refund and receipt form (FP57) in order to claim back the costs. You can claim for the refund of prescription charges up to three months after paying. The refund and receipt form (FP57) explains what to do.

If you buy a 12 month PPC by direct debit you are entering a commitment to pay all the instalments. If you use the PPC after failing to pay an instalment you may incur a penalty charge.

General refunds

If for any reason you need to claim a refund on money paid for your prescription prepayment certificate, please send the original certificate and a letter explaining why you want a refund to:

NHS Business Services Authority
Help with Health Costs
PO Box 854
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE99 2DE


The 12 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Baseman4 said on 24 March 2015

I have just set up my PPC with the NHS, great idea if you are unfortunate to have a long term illness and pay for your prescriptions. Also great that you can back date the start date by 1 calendar month to claim back for any prescriptions paid for during this time, but there is a catch. For any one to claim back during this period you must obtain what they call a FP57 receipt at the time of purchase so that this can be sent back to the NHS as proof of purchase. No chemist or hospital will offer you the FP57 with out you asking for it,
this is a right rip off as you at the time will not know about this receipt and it and they will refuse to back date it. I have spent £150 in prescription charges in the last month and can not claim any of it back with out the FP57 receipt. You now have been warned. This stupid form of management just leaves a bad taste in my mouth

Don't forget to ask for the FP57 receipt when you pick up your prescription as proof of purchase is not accepted.

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Satom421 said on 10 March 2015

I am trying to inform you of the change of address with regard to my NHS Medical Exeption Certificate, I have not been able to find a page for this information

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TLP1976 said on 09 March 2015

After reading the below comments, I was surprised to talk to a very helpful lady when enquiring about changing my direct debit date, she also advised where my card was in the system and gave me the certificate number to enable me to not have to pay for a perscription in case my heart medication is changed before the card arrives. All very quick and swift phone call.

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geordieman1892 said on 12 February 2015

it was supposed to save me money but it has ended up costing me more would never use this service again! there is no compromise! i am now paying £10.40 for 7 months for nothing!

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Kimi50 said on 29 January 2015

Disgusted that I am not able to use the pre payment until weeks after I phoned up to arrange it! I would not have bothered if I knew this was going to be such a long process the direct debit has been set up for 2 weeks time then I have to wait for the thing to be posted out to me! Very poor service I have already paid for 5 items last week and need another 5 items now but will have to wait for 3 weeks to get my medication due to this ridiculous system. When money is tight and you are very ill you don't need this stress.

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User609692 said on 13 January 2015

I will be 60 on February 15th and at the moment have a pre-payment certificate that does not run out till August i was told when i rang to renew my certificate that i would have to do the 12 months & then claim the other months back when i get to 60,since then i have spoken to someone who told me i could have just done a 3 monthly certificate twice,now i don't know what to do.

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Brian JW said on 03 November 2014

Why can you not talk to anyone, i have been trying for around 1 hour to renew my PPC, but the automated system, gets everything wrong you do not get the chance to speak to anyone.

Previously it used to take 2 mins to order & pay for a PPC

A prime example or some idiot sitting behind a desk thinking i know what we will do make it automated

I want to make it active today. so what do i use telepathy?

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John Smyth said on 23 October 2014

Please visit the Help with Health Costs Facebook page

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SueJDan said on 02 October 2014

Do not buy a 12 month PPC!!

i bought one in December 13 and in June we started to get Pension Credit backdated to March. I was initially told by the pharmacist that I would get a refund as the DWP would let the NHS know, which was wrong. When nothing happened I looked on this website under general refunds and sent a letter explaining our situation. I received a letter stating that I was a few days over a 3 month limit! I've checked this website again and the only mention of a 3 month limit is in the section regarding getting a refund if you pay whilst waiting for new PPC. The letter I have received said I should have looked at another website which is more accurate!
So, to be clear, if you pay up front for a 12 month PPC and give the NHS money in advance of you needing meds, and you do not claim a refund straight away the NHS will keep all your money you have paid. Whereas, if you pay quarterly, with all the additional admin costs to the NHS you won't lose out! Crazy, and definitely following up with MP and media.

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Nic99 said on 15 December 2013

Please update your list of registered pharmacies where you can buy a PPC as I made a special journey to go to one on the list, and they said I couldn't buy one there.

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LSMark said on 22 November 2013

> why on earth does it take 7 working days to get the PPC after applying on line? This is excessive and must result in people being off medication a few days in a fair % of cases.

When you apply you can set your certificate to start on the day you want it to, which can be the day you're applying. I've found that most places accept your word if you say it hasn't arrived yet. In fact, there's a box for the pharmacist to tick for "evidence not seen". I guess it's all linked up on a computer somewhere and they know where we live if we lie!

When this hasn't happened I've had no problem getting a FP57 form and a refund (see above).

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sbsbsbsbsb said on 17 August 2013

why on earth does it take 7 working days to get the PPC after applying on line? This is excessive and must result in people being off medication a few days in a fair % of cases.
Registering for this is irritating - you wait til I have put in all the info then tell me my password is not long enough then you clear the fields making me do it all again. Why not say next to password it has to be 8 characters. Same with user name - if it is already taken you tell me but clear all the fields. This is unnecessary and reflects poorly on your IT support.

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Page last reviewed: 01/04/2014

Next review due: 01/04/2016

Important numbers

Phone 0300 330 1348 for the dental services help line

Phone 0300 330 1343 for the Low Income Scheme help line

Phone 0300 330 1341 for queries about medical exemption certificates.

Phone 0300 330 1341 for queries about PPCs.

Phone 0300 330 1349 for the prescription services help line

Phone 0300 330 1347 for queries about tax credit certificates

Phone 0300 123 0849 to order a paper copy of the HC12, HC5 or HC1 (SC) forms

For all other queries call 0300 330 1343

The PPC leaflet and application form

The new prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) leaflet gives you all the information on how to save money on your NHS prescription charges.