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The Guide To The NHS Surcharge

You should note that as of 6th April 2015, everyone applying for a UK visa both in the UK and outside the UK is now required to pay an NHS surcharge before applying for their UK visa. You do not need to pay the NHS Surcharge however if you are applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or any British Citizenship type applications.

The funds raised from this surcharge will be given directly by the UK government to the National Health Service (NHS) and will allow you to fully use the NHS should you fall ill while living in the UK. Please note that even though you are paying this NHS Surcharge, you will still need to pay for certain services such as prescriptions, dental treatment and eye tests.

Please also note that some applicants are exempt from paying this surcharge (and others are exempt but still need to obtain a reference number to submit with their application) and we have explained more about this below.

NHS Healthcare Benefits sign

Who needs to pay the NHS Surcharge?

If you submit your UK Visa application outside the UK, you will need to pay the NHS Surcharge if:

  • You are a national of a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA);
  • You are applying for a UK Visa to study, work or join your family in the UK for more than 6 months (but you are not applying to remain in the UK permanently).

For UK Visa applications submitted within the United Kingdom, you will be required to pay the NHS Surcharge and obtain an IHS reference number if:

  • You are a national of a country outside of the EEA;
  • You are submitting a UK Visa application for any length of time, including applications for 6 months or less (but you’re not applying to remain in the United Kingdom permanently).

Please note that you are still required to pay the NHS Surcharge even if you have private medical insurance.

A nurse health checking a patient

Who only needs an IHS reference number?

You still need to use the payment service to get an immigration health surcharge (IHS) reference number, but you will not need to pay if:

The payment service will tell you that you do not have to pay anything and will give you your healthcare surcharge reference number for your application.

The good news is that you will able to use the National Health Service (NHS) even if you are exempt from paying.

NHS surgeons operating

Who does not need to pay or get an IHS reference number?

You will be able to use the NHS without paying the surcharge or getting a reference number if:

  • You are applying for an Indefinite Leave to Enter or Remain (ILR) Visa;
  • You are a diplomat or a member of a visiting armed forces and not subject to immigration control;
  • you’re a dependent of a member of the UK’s armed forces
  • you are the dependant of a member of another country’s armed forces who is exempt from immigration control;
  • you are a family member of a European national with European Union treaty rights;
  • you are applying for a visa for the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands;
  • You are a British Overseas Territory citizen resident in the Falkland Islands;
  • You are an asylum seeker or applying for humanitarian protection (or you are their dependant);
  • You are a domestic worker who has been identified as a victim of slavery or human trafficking;
  • You are applying for discretionary leave to remain in the UK as someone who has been identified as a victim of slavery or human trafficking (or you are their dependant);
  • The Home Office’s domestic violence concession applies to you (or you are their dependant)
  • being made to leave the United Kingdom would be against your rights under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (or you are their dependant)

You need to pay the healthcare surcharge if you apply for indefinite leave to remain but are only given limited leave remain instead. Please note that in this situation, you will need to pay before you are given the further leave to remain.

Male doctor with stethoscope

UK Visitor Visas and UK Short-term Visas

You do not need to pay the surcharge or get an IHS reference number if you are applying for a:

You will need to pay for any NHS care you get at the point you use it – unless it is a service that’s free.

Visa Services

Our British Citizenship services are tailored to your needs, so you can choose the price you want to pay, for the service you require. 

For access to our knowledge & experience, we offer consultation services. If you want to be cost-effective and secure your naturalisation approval by yourself, consider our Expert Checking Services. For an extra fee, we’ll even provide our Expert Document List & bespoke templates to save you time.

If you want a guaranteed approval though, you are looking for our Full Representation ServicesWith this service, you are allocated your own dedicated British Citizenship Expert to manage the entire process, with a no-win, no-fee guarantee. Whichever service you choose with First Migration, expect a professional and stress-free service.