Overseas Visitors Advice and Liaison Services

Overseas Patients

An overseas patient is someone who is not ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom (UK) and does not permanently live in the UK.

NHS Treatment is not free for everyone, and the ‘Overseas Visitors Hospital Charging Regulations’ place a legal obligation on the Trust to identify and charge patients that are not entitled to NHS services.

More information can be found on the UK Government website, here.

What is an overseas patient?

We all know that when we go on holiday overseas we need travel insurance and/or a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to ensure that we can receive the appropriate treatment. The same principles apply to visitors coming to the UK.

Emergency treatment should not be withheld but a person not ordinarily a resident (i.e. living in the UK lawfully, voluntary or properly settled at the time of treatment) is not automatically entitled to NHS treatment free of charge.

If you are visiting the UK, or have been living outside the UK, you may have to pay for 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. Having a NHS number or being registered with a GP is not proof of eligibility and neither is paying tax or National Insurance.

If you are on holiday or visiting the UK and the need for your treatment is urgent and cannot wait until you return home, your hospital care will be the same as for any NHS patient. The only difference is that some overseas visitors may have to pay for their NHS hospital treatment, whilst for others there are agreements between International Governments to cover the cost.

British Citizens

Please be aware that these rules also apply to British citizens who usually live outside of the UK. If you have moved overseas or have never lived in the UK you will have to pay for your treatment unless you are covered by one of the exemptions.


Students who usually live overseas and who are in the UK for the sole purpose of studying are subject to NHS charges.

Non-UK nationals who come to the UK to study for more than six months are required to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of their student visa application and this will exempt them from charges. Those coming to the UK to study for less than six months will be required to pay for any hospital appointments or admissions.

Students, irrespective of nationality, who usually live in the EEA and have either had their healthcare surcharge refunded or have not paid the healthcare surcharge will need to provide a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from their home country to be exempt from charges.

Students who are British nationals but usually live overseas and are only in the UK for the purposes of studying are required to pay for any hospital appointments or admissions.

Students, regardless of nationality, who usually live overseas and have not paid the healthcare surcharge and who do not have a non-UK EHIC will be charged for treatment. It is strongly advised that they obtain insurance before coming to the UK that will cover the cost of any treatment provided.

What will happen when i arrive at hospital?

Upon arrival at hospital you will be asked to confirm how long you have lived in the UK.

If you have not, or cannot prove you have, lived in the UK for the last 12 months you will be asked to complete a patient status questionnaire and provide information that will enable the Overseas Team to establish whether you are required to pay for treatment or not.

It is the responsibility of the patient to provide evidence, when requested, to demonstrate that they are entitled to free NHS treatment. When evidence is not provided, treatment will be charged for.

Planned Treatment

If you are identified as a chargeable NHS patient you will be asked to pay before you receive your treatment. If the complete cost of the treatment is not known at this point you will be given a guide price and you will be entitled for a refund if this is more than the actual cost of your treatment. If the treatment is not urgently required then it may be delayed until payment has been received.

Emergency Treatment

Only treatment provided in our Emergency Department is free-of-charge to all. If you are admitted after attending our Emergency Department then urgent treatment will be provided regardless of whether you have to pay or not. However, if you are a chargeable NHS patient charges will be made and payment will be required as soon as possible.

Maternity Care

All maternity services are treated as being immediately necessary. This means they must not be withheld, or delayed, based on a patient’s status as an overseas visitor or due to charging-related issues.

If you have valid leave to remain in the UK after your baby is born, this will also cover your baby for NHS Hospital care until they reach 3 months of age.  After this time you will need to make sure they have their own valid leave in the UK to continue to access NHS hospital care without charge. 

We cannot advise you on Home Office leave directly.  Please check the government website WWW.Gov.UK for more information.  If you need any further advice following that please seek legal advice from a specialist in immigration law.

Temporary Visitors from EU or EFTA states (here or 6 months or less) and the European Health insurance card

Visitors to the UK from the EU or EFTA states – including UK nationals who live there – can access: necessary healthcare without charge during their stay if they hold a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) issued by an EU or EFTA member state a specific course of pre-planned treatment free of charge if they hold an S2 and have made advance arrangements with the provider.

Further information and contact

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact our ‘Overseas Team’ who will be happy to help:


Further information can be found on the UK Government website (click here)