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In this article, we’ll give you insights on everything NHS (Uk’s National Health System)  related so you know what you have to do when you come to the UK to feel safe health-wise! When I was a student, registering in the NHS was one of the first things I did, and being able to have a doctor looking after me sure helped me a few times!


The NHS is the UK’s state care health system – it gives you free access to a number of services, except for dental care and eye treatment, unless its in an emergency. 


As an international student studying in the UK for more than 6 months, you can and should register with the National Health Service – the UK’s state care health system. To do this, you have to pay the Immigration healthcare surcharge that is £470 per year, after that, you have free access to health services. If you are not studying for less than 6 months, you can’t have free access to the NHS, and you should find private health insurance. The way you register with the NHS is by registering with a General Practitioner in your area. We show you how to do this below! 


  • Are International Students Eligible for the NHS?
  • How do International Students Register with the NHS?
  • Universities with a GP
  • Is the NHS free for International Students?
  • What is not free with the NHS?
  • What if I have an existing medical condition?
  • What private student health insurance should I get?

Are International Student's Eligible for the NHS?

Yes, International students (Non-European Union and European Union students) can register for the NHS just like everyone else. However, this depends on the time that you are staying:

For students staying more than 6 months:

You have to pay a healthcare immigration surcharge that costs £470 per year studying, so for example, £940 for a 2 year visa, to have access to free healthcare. The payment of the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge is done with the visa application prior to arriving in the UK.

If you are using the 11-month “student visitor” visa and if you weren’t asked to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge when you made your visa application, then you will be entitled to free hospital treatment. This is because the government has temporarily stopped the immigration surcharge for this group. However, this is just temporary.

You can go here to check if you have to pay the surcharge and to make the payment.

This page also gives you more information if you are a student moving to the UK from outside the EEA.

For students staying less than 6 months:

If you have the 6-month “student visitor” visa, you are not eligible to apply for the NHS. In this case, the best would be to recur to private health insurance, as you would still be able to register with a GP as a temporary patient but you will pay the services of the NHS by 150% of the usual tariff.In addition, you won’t be able to use the Global Health Insurance Card, the substitute of the European Health Insurance Cards, made for temporary travel, if you are staying for less than 6 months.

How do International students register with the NHS?

International students (just like everyone else) have to register with a local General Practice in their area of residence to have access to the NHS. The GP is where your medical records are kept and where you can book an appointment to a general practitioner doctor. If the situation is serious, you can always go straight to the hospital, but try to see your GP first.

Once you register, you’ll get an NHS Number which will work as your all things health related ID number, and you will need to use it for example, when you go to the Hospital or if you want to change GP’s. 

The GP you want to register with will probably have a website to do this, otherwise, just walk in that they will guide you on how to do it. This website helps you registering and finding your local GP and we have found a video that teaches you how to do it:



And we’ve also found another video for you that shows you how to install and use the NHS app:


What do I need to register?

It is best you confirm with your GP what do they require first, but this is what you can normally expect:

  • A letter from the university as a proof that you are a student or your previous GP registration letter
  • Your passport
  • Any other immigration documents that they ask

Universities with a GP

Some universities offer an NHS General Practitioner, so check if yours does, and if not, most likely they will have one that they advise.

Here are some that do:

To be sure of what visa you need, the UK government’s website has a tool that helps you understand this. Go here to check!

Is the NHS free for International Students?

Once you have your NHS Number (after registering with a GP), you have free access to the following services (same as UK nationals):

  • Free consultation with your GP
  • Free hospital treatment in Accident and Emergency
  • Free hospital treatment if your GP recommends it
  • Free contraceptive services
  • Free maternity care
  • Diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections
  • Diagnosis and treatment of certain infectious diseases
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) tests (even if results are negative) and treatment, as well as vaccination against coronavirus. Read about the circumstances in which you can ask for a test, and how to do that. If you have problems booking a test or getting results then you can read Get help with asking for a coronavirus test. The National Health Service has detailed information about coronavirus on its website. 
  • Treatment of conditions caused by torture, female genital mutilation, domestic violence or sexual violence (provided you did not come to the UK for the specific purpose of seeking such treatment)
  • Compulsory psychiatric treatment or treatment that has been ordered by a court
  • Treatment in prison or immigration detention

What is not free with the NHS?

Unfortunately, the NHS doesn’t cover Dental treatment, Eye tests / glasses / contact lenses and some vaccinations such as for travelling. You also pay for a prescription charge of £9.35 per item on medicines that were prescribed by your GP.

Another thing that is not free with the NHS is repatriation to your home country if you wish to be treated there in case of an accident. Also, remember that the NHS is only for public hospitals, so if you wish to have access to private clinics, I would recommend getting private health insurance.

What if I have an existing medical condition?

First, contact your University before you enrol to get more information on how they can support you.

Additionally, when you register with your GP, make sure you bring your prescription papers and a doctor’s report (all translated in English) describing your condition and medical history, treatment and medication required, as the GP will ask specifically for your medical history. Also, don’t forget to bring a 4-week supply of your medication, to ensure that you have sufficient whilst you get onto the NHS system.

To be sure of what visa you need, the UK government’s website has a tool that helps you understand this. Go here to check!

What Private Student Health Insurance should I get?

In the case where you want to have the chance of repatriation to your home country if you wish to be treated there, and have access to private clinics you have to get private health insurance.

The National Union of Students (NUS) recommends Endsleigh, which has specific insurance for international students in the UK.

However, another way to find private insurance for your travel, I would suggest finding a reputable one in your home country with international coverage. For example, Allianz and AXA, since they are present worldwide.

To be sure of what visa you need, the UK government’s website has a tool that helps you understand this. Go here to check!

"I have been here for 5 years and I have an insurance with Allianz, that I got in my home country in France"
National Insurance Number For International Students
Student at King's College London

Hope I was able to help, but for more information visit the official NHS website:

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