Healthcare for international students

For details of accessing healthcare in York, including finding a doctor or seeking emergency care, see our healthcare page.

All students, regardless of nationality and length of course, are entitled to the following free National Health Service (NHS) treatments:

  • Emergency treatment
  • Family planning services, including contraception
  • Treatment of certain communicable diseases
  • Compulsory psychiatric treatment

See the NHS Choices information for Visitors from outside the EEA about free services.

Am I eligible for further free healthcare in the UK?

Whether you qualify for other NHS treatment depends on nationality and the duration of the course you are studying.

Non-EU students on courses lasting six months or more

If you are a non-EU international student studying for six months or more, you will have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge entitling you (and any dependants applying with you) to free health services from the National Health Service (NHS) while you are in the UK. 

Babies born in the UK to international student parents are only entitled to free NHS treatment until they are three months old.  After this point you must apply for a points based dependant visa for the baby and pay the immigration health surcharge. 

Further information can be found on our web pages for applying for a visa outside of the UK.  

EU students on courses lasting six months or more

You should qualify for NHS treatment, from the beginning of your stay, on the same basis as anyone who is ordinarily resident in the UK. You should be entitled to free treatment in NHS hospitals and may register as a patient with a GP.

If you are an EEA (European Economic Area) national you must obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in your country of residence before travelling to the UK. A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) enables you to qualify for NHS care on the same basis as a UK national. 

When attending hospital or registering with a GP, you should provide evidence that you are studying in the UK, evidence of your UK address and confirmation from the University that you are attending a course of study. Nationals from the EEA msut provide a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). 

Students on courses lasting less than six months

If you are an EEA (European Economic Area) national you must obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in your country of residence before travelling to the UK. A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) enables you to qualify for NHS care on the same basis as a UK national. 

If you are from outside the EEA, and have a Short-term Study visa, you will only be entitled to limited NHS treatment. You will be entitled to free emergency hospital treatment, but only treatment given in an NHS Accident and Emergency department is free of charge. Once the patient is admitted onto a ward or given an outpatient appointment, charges will apply.

GPs may agree to treat short-stay students for free, but this will usually be limited to urgent treatment that cannot be delayed until the student returns home.

Short-stay students will have to pay for any other treatment as a private patient. Private health care can be extremely expensive without medical insurance, therefore it is very important to arrange medical insurance before coming to the UK .

If you are from outside the EEA but hold a Tier 4 visa, you will have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge and are therefore entitled to the same treatment as students on courses of 6 months or more. 

What NHS services might I need to pay for?

Even if you are entitled to NHS treatment there are some services you will be required to pay for:

  • Medicines prescribed by your GP
  • Some GP services such as travel vaccinations and obtaining a sickness certificate - ask your GP about costs
  • Ongoing treatments for an illness which was present before entering the UK
  • Dental treatment
  • Optical treatment

If you are under 19 years of age, you can apply for the HC1 certificate which exempts you from some of the charges above.  See information for those visiting or moving to England on the NHS website.

Do I need private medical insurance?

If you are not entitled to free NHS treatment, you should take out adequate medical insurance, preferably before arriving in the UK, to cover medical costs and the possible additional costs resulting from that illness, such as a flight home.

Even if you are entitled to free NHS treatment whilst in the UK, you may wish to consider taking out private medical insurance. Sometimes there are long waiting lists for non-emergency NHS services and private medical insurance could give you much quicker access to the treatment you need.

If private dental treatment is required it can be extremely expensive and students are strongly advised to obtain medical insurance to cover this.