Hospital Treatment for Overseas Visitors

NHS hospital treatment is not free for everyone. If you are visiting the United Kingdom (UK) and require treatment in our hospitals, you may have to pay for your treatment.

Anyone of any nationality who is not ordinarily resident in the UK at the time of treatment is regarded as an ‘Overseas Visitor’. This means that they may be charged for the treatment they receive at University Hospital, Coventry or at Hospital of St. Cross, Rugby.

NHS hospitals have a legal obligation to establish whether a person is an overseas visitor, and whether charges apply or they have an exemption. Where there is no exemption, we must charge the person liable and recover the costs from them.

Overseas Patients
An overseas patient is someone who is not ordinarily resident in the UK and does not permanently live in the UK. If you are visiting the UK or have been living outside the UK for more than six months, you may have to pay for the NHS hospital treatment whilst you are here.  This is regardless of whether you are a British citizen or have lived or worked here in the past.

NHS services and treatments which are free for everyone
Some NHS services are free to everyone. These include:

  • Family-planning services (this does not include maternity treatment and termination of pregnancy)
  • Diagnosis and treatment of certain infectious diseases (see here for more information)
  • Treatment at the Emergency Department (A&E). This is free only up to the point an overseas visitor is admitted as an inpatient, or given an outpatient appointment. It does not, therefore, include emergency treatment given after admission to the hospital as an in-patient or out-patient. Treatment at this point is chargeable to non-exempt visitors.

Who is exempt from charges?
Some visitors to the UK are entitled to NHS hospital treatment free of charge. These include people working for UK-based employers and students on courses of at least six months duration and who have paid Health Surcharge.

How can I prove that I am entitled to free hospital treatment?
NHS hospitals have a duty to identify and charge overseas patients for hospital treatment they receive. Hospitals are required to check documentary evidence of entitlement to prove that you are ordinarily resident in the UK.

If you can’t provide the documents you may have to pay a deposit equal to the estimated cost of your treatment before you receive an appointment or treatment.

Maternity services, or treatment which the doctor or nurse thinks is immediately necessary or urgent, will not be withheld. However charges will still apply and you will receive an invoice after your treatment.

To help us check if you are entitled to free healthcare, you will need to bring two separate documents to your appointment - one to prove your identity, and one to prove your address.  See below for which documents you can bring.

What types of document can I show?

The following documents can be used as proof of identity:
1. Current signed passport
2. Residence permit issued by UK Border Agency
3. Valid UK photo-card driving licence
4. EU or Swiss national identity photo-card
5. Valid armed forces or police photographic identity card
6. Photographic disabled blue badge
7. Citizen card.

The following documents can be used as proof of address. They must contain your current address and be dated within the last six months:

1. Recent original utility bill such as gas, electric, water, landline (mobile not acceptable)
2. Council tax bill for the current year
3. Bank, building society or credit union statement or passbook
4. Recent original mortgage statement from a recognised lender
5. Current council or housing association rent book or tenancy agreement
6. Notification letter from the Department for Work and Pensions confirming your right to benefits
or a state pension. 

For more information, please see the documents below:

You can call 111 when you need medical help fast, but it's not a 999 emergency.  NHS111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones in England.