This information is for people who are visiting England from abroad. It tells you how to access different types of healthcare and whether you might need to pay.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing and treatment
Overseas visitors to England, including anyone living in the UK without permission, will not be charged for:
- testing for coronavirus (even if the test shows you do not have coronavirus)
- treatment for coronavirus – if you start treatment and a test then shows you do not have coronavirus, you may be charged for any treatment you have after getting the test result
No immigration checks are needed if you only have testing or treatment for coronavirus.
How to get healthcare
If you're not sure how to get the help you need, use this checklist to guide you.
- Call NHS 111 if you urgently need medical help or advice but it's not a life-threatening situation. You can also call NHS 111 if you're not sure which NHS service you need.
- Call 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.
- Go to a walk-in centre, minor injuries unit or urgent treatment centre, if you have a minor illness or injury (cuts, sprains or rashes) and it cannot wait until your GP surgery is open.
- Ask a local pharmacist for advice – a pharmacist can give you advice about many common minor illnesses, such as diarrhoea, minor infections, headaches, sore throats, or travel health.
- Make an appointment with your GP if you're feeling unwell and it's not an emergency.
For information about conditions and treatments, read the Health A-Z guides.
You will need to pay for some things such as eye tests, dental treatment and prescriptions, just like people who live in England.
General practitioners (GPs)
GPs are the first point of contact for nearly all NHS patients.
They can direct you to other NHS services and are experts in family medicine, preventative care, health education, and treating people with multiple and long-term conditions.
If you're planning to live and work in England, you need to register with a GP practice.
You'll need to fill out a GMS1 form using exactly the same details you used when you filled out your visa.
It's up to the GP practice to decide whether to accept new patients or not, but they can only refuse for non-discriminatory reasons.
But being registered with a GP practice does not in itself mean you'll be entitled to free NHS hospital treatment.
Being registered with a GP practice may mean you're invited for NHS screening services, but you may still have to pay for these services when they're not provided by the GP practice.
If you're in England for a short visit but need to see a GP, you can register as a temporary patient with a local doctor.
You need to be in the area for more than 24 hours but less than 3 months.
Again, it's up to the GP practice to decide whether or not they'll accept new patients.
Treatment will be free of charge, but make sure you present your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you have one. (See more information on this page for citizens of EU countries, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland).
Download a copy of It's your practice: a patient guide to GP services (PDF, 1.92Mb), which is produced by the Royal College of General Practitioners, to help you choose, and get the most from, GP practices.
Hospital treatment is free to people who are "ordinarily resident" in the UK.
To be considered ordinarily resident and entitled to free hospital treatment, you must be living in the UK on a lawful and properly settled basis for the time being. You may be asked to prove this.
If you're a visitor from the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, you'll need to present a valid EHIC or other healthcare documents (such as S2, PRC or S1 forms), or you may be charged for your care.
Citizens of other countries who are subject to immigration control are not classed as ordinarily resident unless they have indefinite leave to remain.
If you're visiting England from a country outside of the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland for more than 6 months, you'll need to pay the immigration health surcharge, unless you're exempt from paying it.
This surcharge will generally cover you for healthcare – the same as someone who's ordinarily resident.
If you're visiting England from a country outside of the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland for less than 6 months, you need to ensure you're covered for healthcare through personal medical insurance during your visit, even if you're a former UK resident.
If you need NHS hospital treatment, you will be charged at 150% of the national NHS rate if you are a national of a country outside of the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
Some services or treatments carried out in an NHS hospital are exempt from charges, so they're free to all.
- A&E services – not including emergency treatment if admitted to hospital
- family planning services – this does not include abortions or infertility treatment
- treatment for most infectious diseases, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- treatment required for a physical or mental condition caused by torture, female genital mutilation (FGM), domestic violence or sexual violence – this does not apply if you have come to England to seek this treatment
Page last reviewed: 30 January 2020
Next review due: 30 January 2023