UK healthcare for international students
International students in the UK have free access to emergency healthcare services. If students require further medical treatment, fees may apply, so all students should have adequate travel insurance to ensure possible costs.
All Covid health services, including testing, vaccination and treatments, are free for all visitors. Find out how to access different health services in the UK below.
Covid healthcare services
International visitors to England will not be charged for:
- testing for Covid-19
- treatment for Covid-19
- vaccination against Covid-19
No immigration checks are needed for these services. Individuals who do not have an NHS number or are not registered with a GP (‘general practitioner’ doctor) are still entitled to free Covid-19 vaccinations if they are in the UK. While registration with a GP is encouraged to access the vaccine, individuals can request to book Covid-19 vaccination appointments as an unregistered patient through a local GP practice.
Accessing Covid tests
Rapid Covid tests (known as lateral flow tests) are available from free from local pharmacies, community testing centres, or by post. Some language schools may ask students, teachers and staff to take regular rapid tests, although this will not apply in all cases.
PCR tests are available for free for anyone experiencing Covid symptoms in the UK. Language centre staff will explain to students exactly what they should do if they notice any symptoms.
Emergency healthcare services
All students can access emergency healthcare free of charge in the UK. If anyone needs an ambulance in the UK, phone 999 (911 also works).
There is no cost to call an ambulance or for emergency treatment at public hospitals. There is a cost if you need to stay in hospital or if you need further treatment. International visitors will pay a high cost for hospital stays or further treatment in the UK, so they should make sure they have insurance covering all medical costs.
For urgent medical attention in a situation that is not life-threatening (for example, suspected broken burns, minor burns and rashes) visitors can go to a local urgent treatment centre rather than a hospital emergency department.
All visitors and students can use the NHS 111 service when they are in the UK, online or by calling 111, for help to access the right information and health service.
Note that international visitors will not be changed for treatment for Covid-19.
Accessing doctor appointments
Most international students in the UK can register with a GP (‘general practitioner’) in the UK as soon as they arrive. GPs provide general, usually non-urgent, medical consultations and can issue medicine prescriptions. There are slightly different rules and procedures for registering with a GP in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
European Health Insurance Card
Students who have a European Health Insurance Card can access the UK’s public health services free of charge. They should apply for the card before travel to the UK. They may need to show the card if they need treatment at a hospital or at a doctors surgery.
Immigration health surcharge
All students must pay the immigration health surcharge when they apply for a visa to study for more than six months.
They pay the fee as part of the online visa application. They can then access national health services in the UK during their stay. This includes free hospital services.
If the visa is valid for between six and 12 months, the cost is £470. The cost increases with the length of the visa.
Health and travel insurance
All students travelling to the UK should have travel insurance. Students studying for six months or less should ensure their insurance covers medical costs in case they need to access healthcare in the UK.