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Overseas Visitor Information

The provision of medical services to Overseas Visitors to the United Kingdom might be subject to a fee charge for services provided. This will be the fee for a consultation plus the cost of the medicines that may be prescribed.

Whether a charge is made for medical treatment in the UK is dictated by the Government document NHSiS Manual of Guidance for Overseas Visitors and will depend on your country of origin, your nationality, your reason for being in the UK and the nature of the condition being treated. The Public Health Division of the Scottish Executive Health Department (SEHD) has lead responsibility for matters relating to entitlement or otherwise to NHS services.

The term Overseas Visitor may be defined as a person not Ordinarily Resident in the United Kingdom. However, the regulations do not give a clear definition of the term Ordinarily Resident. For administrative ease, we have arranged Overseas Visitors into various categorised countries (see attached) depicting where reciprocal health service arrangements exist, or do not exist. Where no reciprocal arrangements exist, a charge may be levied; however, it should be borne in mind that there are a number of exemptions to this rule.


No reciprocal health service arrangements exist for foreign nationals of the countries listed under Category One below. Therefore, patients from any of these countries may be charged a private consultation fee for any medical attention that they receive. The list is not exhaustive but if the country is not listed in Category Two or Three or does not have an exemption detailed in Category Four, a charge may be levied. Patients must be warned in advance that a fee may be charged. Patients will be issued with a private prescription.

Algeria Antigua Bahamas Bangladesh Bermuda Botswana Brazil Cambodia Cameroon

Canada China Dominican Republic Ghana Guyana Hong Kong India Indonesia Iran

Iraq Israel Jamaica Japan Jordan Kenya Lebanon Malaysia Nepal

Nigeria Pakistan Saudi Arabia Singapore South Africa Sri Lanka Sudan Thailand Trinidad & Tobago

Turkey Uganda United Arab Emirates U.S.A Venezuela Vietnam Zaire Zambia Zimbabwe

Category Four details exemptions from the above.

  1. CATEGORY TWO – EEA Countries

Since 1st June 2004 new arrangements exist between Britain and the other EEA Countries (including Switzerland). Residents of these countries, who are insured under their country’s health system, are now entitled, on the basis of the European Health Insurance Card , (EHIC), or its equivalent, to all medically necessary treatment during a temporary stay in another member state, taking into account the nature of the care and the expected length of stay. Necessary treatment, in this context, includes treatment of chronic and existing illnesses. It does not include elective treatment where the aim of the visit is to specifically obtain medical treatment.

Austria Belgium Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Greece

Estonia Finland France Germany Gibraltar Liechtenstein

Hungary Iceland Irish Republic Italy Latvia Poland

Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Norway Switzerland

Portugal Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden

Reciprocal arrangements exist between the UK and the Non-EEA countries listed below. This entitles patients to treatment under the NHS treatment the need for which arose during the visit or they have been referred to the UK for treatment. A charge may be made for treating existing conditions.


Anguilla Armenia Australia Azerbaijan Barbados Belarus

Bosnia British Virgin Islands Bulgaria Channel Islands Croatia Falkland Islands

Georgia Isle of Man Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Macedonia Moldova

Montenegro Montserrat New Zealand Romania Russian St Helena

Serbia Tajikistan Turkmenistan Turks & Caicos Islands Federation Ukraine Uzbekistan


If a foreign national of any of the countries detailed under Category Three are permanently resident in any of the countries listed under Category Two, they are entitled to receive treatment under the NHS on the same basis as those patients listed under Category Two.

Anguilla Australia Barbados

British Virgin Islands Channel Islands Falkland Islands

Iceland Isle of Man Montserrat

Turks & Caicos Islands St Helena Sweden


Visitors who fall within Category Four are exempt from private charges and are entitled to receive treatment under the NHS.

  • Lawful Residents of the United Kingdom who say they intend staying for at least six months.
  • Those in employment in the United Kingdom* #
  • Family Planning Services
  • Anyone coming to the United Kingdom to take up permanent residence* #
  • Refugees and asylum seekers whose application is still being considered.
  • Students – pursuing a full-time course of study; temporarily in another EEA member state for the duration of study; residential students on a course of study of 6   months or more* #
  • Members of HM Forces, Crown Personnel and NATO Personnel
  • Workers posted temporarily to another EEA member state *
  • UK residents working overseas who have had at least 10 years continuous residence in the UK.*
  • Seamen on UK registered ships
  • Au Pairs that have completed 12 months residence in the UK (but see category two above, if the Au Pair is from a country listed in Category Two, then they are entitled to receive the same entitlements)
  • Offshore workers on the UK sector of the continental shelf where the operator has a principle place of business in the United Kingdom
  • Diplomatic staff who are present in the UK as accredited diplomats and other members of embassy, consular or Commonwealth High Commission#
  • Those requiring Oxygen Therapy
  • Those suspected of having a reportable infectious disease (refer to Chapter 10 paragraph 5 of the Manual)
  • Those in receipt of a UK war pension
  • Refugees on production of relevant supporting Home Office or other documentation Prisoners and detainees

*   Including his/her dependents #

#  Dependents, in terms of the guidance, are the spouses and children of people lawfully resident in the UK. From 5th December 2005, with the advent of the Civil Partnerships Act, all same sex couples, married legally in another country will be treated as married in the UK. Also if a person’s only claim to NHS services is that they are married to British Citizen, they only have the right to those services if they have a permanent right to stay here. A resident of a Category 1 country married to a British Citizen is only entitled to treatment on the NHS if they are here on a Resident’s visa. A Visitor’s visa does not give them that right.

Other information

Any person who has been receiving treatment, on the basis that no charge would be made, to complete that course of treatment on the same basis, where it has been established that the person does not meet the residence qualification.

The term “no recourse to public funds” printed on an overseas visitor’s passport does not in itself mean that they are ineligible for NHS Treatment. It means that while they are in this country they are not entitled to any benefits, such as unemployment benefit. Their eligibility for treatment under the NHS should be determined based on the other factors detailed above.


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