This page explains what healthcare you can receive while you are living in the UK.
You will be able to receive healthcare from the National Health Service (NHS). Some or all of this may be free of charge, depending on your residency status and how long you have been living here.
Permanent residents of the UK do not have to pay for treatment by a general practitioner (GP) or at a hospital.
Permanent residents on a low income may qualify for extra free healthcare such as NHS prescriptions, dental care, sight tests and vouchers to help them buy glasses. More information is on the NHS website.
If you are a visitor to the UK or have temporary permission to live here (known as 'limited leave to remain'), you may be able to register with a GP in your area and receive free treatment. The GP can decide whether or not to register you. You may not be able to receive the full range of hospital treatment, because you must be a permanent resident or have lived here for a year to qualify for it. This applies even if you are a British citizen or have lived or worked here in the past.
You can find out more about this in the NHS information for overseas visitors to the UK
Some health services are free of charge to everyone. These are:
Certain categories of people are able to receive the full range of hospital treatment. These include asylum applicants whose application is still being considered, anyone who has lived here legally for the previous 12 months, and diplomatic staff. For the full list, see the Department of Health guidance.
A few categories of visitor can receive treatment for conditions that occurred after their arrival in the UK. This includes residents of the European Economic Area, or of countries with which the UK has bilateral healthcare agreements. See our Rights and responsibilities page for European nationals. The Department of Health guidance also contains more details.
If you are not in one of the categories that can receive free treatment, you may be asked to pay for any hospital treatment you receive. You may therefore wish to ensure that you have health insurance to cover your stay in the UK.
In an emergency, you should go to the nearest hospital that has an A&E department. If you cannot get there yourself, phone 999 or 112 and ask for an ambulance. These calls are free from any phone, including mobile phones, but must only be used in an emergency.
For more advice and information, see the NHS website or phone NHS Direct on 0845 4647.
Home Office. 2013. UK Border Agency | Healthcare. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/while-in-uk/rightsandresponsibilities/healthcare/. [Accessed 02 September 13]