The NHS provides healthcare for people who are usually lawfully resident in the United Kingdom. People who do not normally live in this country, who are visiting the UK – to stay with family, on business, as a tourist, or if you are living here without proper permission – then you are likely to be charged for any treatment received. Not paying this charge may have an effect on any future immigration application you make and you risk being turned down.

NHS hospitals have a legal obligation to establish whether a person is an overseas visitor and whether charges apply, if any exemptions are in place or whether the individual’s home country has a reciprocal agreement with the UK.

Where there is no exemption or reciprocal agreement in place we must charge the person receiving treatment and recover the costs from them.

Establishing residency

If you come to us for treatment, you may be asked to complete a form and provide documents to prove that you are ordinarily resident in the UK.

If you can’t provide the documents, you may have to pay a deposit equal to the estimated cost of your treatment before you have an appointment or treatment. 

Maternity services, or any other treatment which is deemed to be immediately necessary or urgent, will not be withheld. However, charges still apply and you will receive an invoice after your treatment.

A person is not deemed to be ordinarily resident in the UK simply by:

  • having British nationality
  • holding a British passport
  • being registered with a GP
  • having an NHS number
  • owning property in the UK
  • having paid (or currently paying) National Insurance contributions and taxes in this country.

Whether a person is ordinarily resident is based on a number of established factors.

Patients living in European Economic Area (EEA) countries

This section is subject to change following the UK’s exit from the European Union.

If you access our services because the need arose during a visit to the UK, you will need to show us your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or a provisional replacement card.

If you do not have these documents, you will be required to pay for your treatment and recover the costs when you return home.

Eligibility for treatment

If you have any queries regarding your eligibility to free treatment, you can contact the overseas visitor team on 01228 814386 during office hours. Alternatively, please email: . To receive free hospital treatment, you will need to provide evidence that you are legally living within the UK. All patients admitted to our hospitals may be asked to provide details. If you live in the UK on a settled basis then you may be asked to provide evidence of this.

How can I prove that I am entitled to free hospital treatment?

NHS hospitals have a duty to identify and charge overseas patients for hospital treatment they receive. Hospitals are required to check documentary evidence of entitlement to prove that you are ordinarily resident in the UK. If you can’t provide the documents you may have to pay a deposit equal to the estimated cost of your treatment before you receive an appointment or treatment. In line with the UK Charging Regulations, patients with outstanding debts are reported to the Home Office and payments are collected through the Debt Collector Agencies and it may affect their UK Visa status or entry to the UK.

Some NHS services are free to everyone. These include:


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 – including for a related problem that affects some children called multisystem inflammatory syndrome
  • vaccination against coronavirus, including boosters

Failure to pay

If you fail to pay for NHS treatment for which charges are appropriate, your future application to enter, or remain in the UK may be denied. Necessary (non-medical) personal information may be passed via the Department of Health to the Home Office for this purpose. It is the responsibility of the Overseas Visitor to pay for their medical treatment in the UK; also, the fact that a person was not informed that charges would apply does not alter the fact that, and under the Charging Regulations they are still liable for that charge.

Further information

If you are unsure whether you need to pay for NHS treatment, have any concerns or need more information, please contact our Overseas Visitors Team, Monday to Friday from 9am until 4:30pm please email: or call 01228 814386.