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 all your NHS prescriptions, including NHS dental prescriptions, no matter how many items you need.
But it does not cover the cost of other health items, such as the provision of wigs and fabric supports, which are only provided through the hospital service.
There are 2 PPC options to choose from:
- The 3-month PPC costs £29.65 and will save you money if you need more than 3 prescribed items in 3 months
- The 12-month PPC costs £105.90 and will save you money if you need more than 11 prescribed items in a year
How much can I save?
If you need:
- 2 items each month – you can save £113.70 with a 12-month PPC
- 3 items each month – you can save £223.50 with a 12-month PPC
- 4 items each month – you can save £333.30 with a 12-month PPC
There are several payment options available. If you choose the 12-month PPC, you can pay for this upfront, or by 10 monthly direct debit instalments.
How to apply for a PPC
Check if you're entitled to free prescriptions before you apply for a PPC.
It's quickest to buy a PPC online. The PPC will start from the day you submit your application, unless you request a different start date, but the start date must be within 1 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. Your certificate will be valid from the day you make the phone call, unless you request otherwise.
Make sure you have your bank details or credit or debit card details ready.
You can receive your certificate details by email if you provide an email address, print them at the end of your online application, or receive the details by post.
Although a PPC is valid from the day of your application (unless otherwise requested), it may take a couple of days to receive the details of your certificate by post. If you pay prescription charges while you're waiting for the details to arrive, you can get a refund, as long as you get an NHS refund form (FP57) when you pay.
Some pharmacies may be able to sell you a PPC. You will not be able to pay by direct debit if you buy a PPC at a pharmacy.
Remember to apply for a new PPC in plenty of time, otherwise you'll have to pay full prescription charges if it expires.
It's important that you do not use your certificate after it expires. The NHSBSA checks that patients who claim for free NHS prescriptions are entitled to the exemption they have declared.
If you have to pay for prescriptions while you're waiting for details about a new PPC and need to apply for a refund, ask the pharmacist for an NHS receipt (FP57) so you can claim back the cost. Your PPC must cover the date you paid the prescription charge.
You can claim for the refund of prescription charges up to 3 months after paying. The FP57 explains what to do.
If you buy a 12-month PPC by direct debit, you are entering into a commitment to pay all the instalments.
You may be able to claim a full or partial refund if you become entitled to free prescriptions while your certificate is still valid.
For full refund details, including the time limit for claiming, visit the NHSBSA's page about help with costs.
Page last reviewed: 29 April 2020
Next review due: 29 April 2023