Healthcare in the UK

Healthcare in the UK is mainly provided through the National Health Service (NHS). Please refer to the section relevant to you below for further information.

EEA nationals

Currently, EEA nationals have a right to free NHS treatment under European Law.

You should first apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving your home country. The application process for an EHIC (and the duration given on an EHIC) varies in different countries.  Find out how to apply for an EHIC in your country

Please note that if you intend to stay in the UK on a more permanent basis, then you may be considering applying for a right of residence in the UK and, in this case, you will need to obtain Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI). See the UKCISA website for more details on this issue.

Useful links

UKCISA: Information about NHS treatments entitlement

Non-EEA nationals

Non-EEA nationals (Tier 4 (General) visa holders)

Non-EEA students (and their dependants) who hold a visa of more than 6 months are required to pay a contribution to the cost of healthcare for the full duration of that visa. This is called the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge (IHS) and is paid as part of the visa application process.

The IHS fee is calculated based on the total length of your visa.  To find out more details about the IHS, including how much you would need to pay, please see the UKVI website.

Non-EEA nationals (Short-term Study visa holders)

Non-EEA students coming to study in the UK for less than 6 months who hold a Short-term Study visa, do not have to pay the IHS.

Useful links

NHS treatment for overseas students in the UK

UKCISA: Information about NHS treatments entitlement

Registering with a GP (doctor)

You should register with a doctor as soon as possible after you arrive in Scotland and ask them to register you as an NHS patient.  Please do not wait until you are unwell as this may delay treatment.

You will need to take with you proof of your student status, your passport/national identity card and your BRP (if relevant) in order to register. If you are an EEA/Swiss student, you should also show your European Health Insurance card (EHIC).

General Practitioners (GP)

In Scotland, doctors are also referred to as General Practitioners or GPs. They work in GP surgeries, medical practices or health centres and a GP will help you look after all your health needs. However, if they advise you that you need to see another health professional (for example a specialist in a hospital or someone in a specialist service) they will organise the referral for you.


If your doctor issues you with a prescription for an item of medicine, you will need to collect the item from a chemist. There is no charge for prescriptions in Scotland.

Find your General Practictioner (GP)

Registering with a dentist

When making your first appointment with a dentist, you should first of all check that he/she will accept you as a patient under the National Health Service. Otherwise, you may be treated as a private patient, which will cost more than the usual NHS charge.

You must be registered with a doctor before being entitled to be treated by a dentist under the NHS.  Take the contact details (address and telephone number) of your GP surgery when you go to register with the dentist.

Find your local NHS dentist

NHS 24 and Out of Hours Care

NHS 24 phone service - 111

NHS 24 is a telephone advice and triage service that covers the out of hours period when your GP surgery is closed and you are too ill to wait until it re-opens.  You can access this service 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.  You will speak to a suitable health professional who will talk to you about your symptoms and tell you what you need to do; such as treating yourself at home or going to see a doctor.

You can contact the NHS 24 phone service by dialing 111.  This is a free service.

NHS 24 online resources

NHS 24 provides a number of online tools and resources to help you manage your health and find health services in your area through the NHS inform website.