NHS Entitlement

Your entitlement to free NHS treatment depends on the length and purpose of your residence in the UK, not your nationality. There may be charges for some NHS services, for example, your dental treatment, and you may be entitled to help with these charges.

Source: Citizens Advice Bureau, Advice Guide  – NHS charges for people from abroad

Some people from abroad can receive all NHS hospital treatment free of charge. If you are entitled to free NHS hospital treatment, your spouse, civil partner and dependent child(ren) will also be able to receive free treatment, but only if they live with you permanently in the UK.

If you are entitled to it, you can obtain free treatment immediately. There is no qualifying period.

You can receive free NHS hospital treatment if you:-

  • have been living legally in the UK for at least 12 months when you seek treatment, and did not come to the UK for private medical treatment. Temporary absences from the UK of up to three months are ignored
  • have come to the UK to take up permanent residence, for example, if you are a former UK resident who has returned from abroad, or if you have been granted leave to enter or remain as a spouse
  • have come to the UK to work, either as an employee or self-employed person. This does not include people on short business trips
  • normally work in the UK, but are temporarily working abroad, have at least 10 years continuous residence in the UK, and have been abroad for less than 5. However, if you are studying abroad you are not entitled to free NHS treatment
  • are receiving a UK war disablement pension or war widows’ pension
  • are an asylum seeker or have been granted exceptional leave to remain or refugee status. Proof of your immigration status from the Home Office may be required. In England and Scotland, if you’re refused asylum, you do not have the right to free treatment if you have temporary admission. However, if you’re a failed asylum seeker who was receiving a course of treatment, that course of treatment should continue until it is finished without you being asked to pay for it. In Wales, there are plans to change the rules and you might get free treatment. If you’re asked to pay, get advice about how to challenge the charge
  • have been identified as having been trafficked from abroad or are believed to have been trafficked from abroad
  • are imprisoned in the UK or detained by UK immigration authorities
  • are a UK state pensioner who spends up to six months a year living in another European Economic Area (EEA) state, but are not a resident of that state
  • are working in another EEA country, or in Switzerland, but are paying compulsory UK national insurance contributions
  • are a student following a course of study which lasts at least six months, or is substantially funded by the UK government.

Cross-border issues

Frontier workers

If you live in one jurisdiction and work in another you may be eligible for health care both where you live and where you work.

For further information please see Border People – Healthcare for frontier workers

Pensioners

If you are a UK state pensioner living not less than six months in the UK and not more than six months in another EEA member state each year, you will be exempt from NHS charges for while living in the UK, as long as you are not registered as resident in the other EEA member state. This exemption extends to your spouse/civil partner and children (under the age of 16, or 19 if in further education) as long as they are living in the UK with you on a permanent basis for your period of residence in the UK.

For further information please visit the Citizens Advice Bureau, Advice Guide web page NHS charges for people from abroad

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