From 6 April, nationals from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA), coming to live in the UK for longer than six months will be required to pay a ‘health surcharge’ in order to gain access to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).
Currently non-EEA nationals coming to work, study or join family members receive free medical treatment under the UK’s NHS in the same way as a permanent resident.
These changes will ensure that those coming to the UK make an appropriate financial contribution to the cost of their healthcare. The charge will also be paid by non-EEA nationals already in the UK who apply to extend their stay.
The health surcharge will be £200 per year and £150 per year for students and will be payable at the same time as an individual makes their visa application. Visa applicants will need to pay up-front for the total period of their UK visa.
In setting the surcharge levels, the Government has considered the wide range of free health services available to migrants coming to live in the UK, alongside the valuable contribution they make to the economy.
Immigration and Security Minister, James Brokenshire said:
“The health surcharge will play a vital role in ensuring Britain’s most cherished public service is provided on a basis that is fair to all who use it. For generations, the British public have paid their taxes to help make the NHS what it is today – the surcharge will mean temporary migrants will also pay their way.
“And by keeping the surcharge at a competitive level, we are also recognising the contribution temporary migrants make to the wider economy.”
The changes will not affect visitors coming to the UK on a standard visit visa, regardless of its length, and visitors will continue to have to pay for any treatment they receive from the NHS at the point of receiving it. Those coming to the UK on an intra-company transfer (ICT Tier 2 visa) will be exempt from the charges but must still complete the process through the surcharge website.
The surcharge levels are lower than the cost of medical insurance required in some of our competitor nations and, for overseas students, the surcharge represents only 1% of the total cost of studying in the UK for a three year undergraduate course.
Having paid the surcharge, those coming to live in the UK will have the same access to the NHS as a UK permanent resident for the duration of their visa. The money generated by the health surcharge will go directly to funding the NHS.
Further information on the surcharge is available here