COVID-19: migrant health guide

Advice and guidance for healthcare practitioners on the health needs of migrant patients.

No charges for COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccination for inpatients in secondary care

Overseas visitors who are admitted and receiving secondary care in England, including anyone living in the UK without permission, will not be charged for:

  • testing for COVID-19 (even if the test shows they do not have COVID-19)
  • treatment for COVID-19, including for a related problem called multisystem inflammatory syndrome that affects some children
  • vaccination against COVID-19, including boosters

No immigration checks are needed for overseas visitors if they are only tested, treated or vaccinated for COVID-19.

Overseas visitors are still expected to pay for certain charges that the resident population pay (for example, dental or prescription charges), unless exempt from those charges.

Charges for hospital treatment of secondary and subsequent illness

While COVID-19 testing and treatment is exempt from charges for those admitted to secondary care in England, this exemption is not intended to cover hospital treatment of any secondary or subsequent illness. Secondary or subsequent illness refers to:

  • conditions or complications which arise from the initial COVID-19 infection, including long COVID
  • any co-existing conditions a patient may have

These conditions remain chargeable, unless the individual is exempt. Under the charging regulations, the duty is on NHS trusts to assess, based on the views of clinicians, what treatment for COVID-19 is exempt or chargeable.

Accessing COVID-19 vaccination without an NHS number

Individuals do not require an NHS number or GP registration to receive the COVID-19 vaccination and should not be denied vaccination on this basis. Individuals who do not have an NHS number or are not registered with a GP are still entitled to free COVID-19 vaccinations.

While registration with a GP is encouraged to access the vaccine, individuals can access walk-in vaccinations or request to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments as an unregistered patient through a local GP practice.

Local outreach services are available in some areas to provide COVID-19 vaccination to those who are eligible but have difficulties accessing vaccination.

If an individual has an NHS number, they can find it through this online tool.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have created a letter to help people without an NHS number access the COVID-19 vaccine and register with a GP. The letter is available in 25 languages and can be shared with service users and service providers.

If someone is denied care because they do not have an NHS number, they can contact NHS England’s customer contact centre.

COVID-19 translated advice and guidance

The following resources are also available in various languages.

COVID-19 vaccination

COVID-19 testing

COVID-19 prevention and other information

Shareable social media cards to promote uptake of COVID-19 vaccinations have been developed for use in digital campaigns nationally and in London. Translations are available in 25 languages.

The British Society for Immunology has translated some public engagement resources, including infographics, that explain how vaccines work and answer common questions about COVID-19 vaccines.

COVID-19 general advice and guidance

Health information and advice about COVID-19 is available on the NHS website.

Doctors of the World UK has produced a COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence Toolkit to support communities and voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations to deliver their own vaccine confidence events.

COVID-19 guidance for providers of accommodation for asylum seekers

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has produced guidance on COVID-19 in accommodation for asylum seekers. It is aimed at all staff involved in providing support to asylum seekers in all accommodation settings.

Published 17 February 2021
Last updated 3 August 2023 + show all updates
  1. Sections on overseas travel advice, mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic have been removed. Guidance from UKHSA on COVID-19 in accommodation settings for asylum seekers has been updated.

  2. The COVID-19 testing and treatment charging exemption message has been updated to reflect this now applies to inpatients in secondary care.

  3. Added a new link to guidance (also translated into 17 languages) for people with COVID-19 and their contacts.

  4. New translated resources about long COVID and arranging or attending a funeral or commemorative event

  5. New link to translated instructions for the SureScreen COVID-19 rapid lateral flow test kit

  6. Clarified charging exemption for vaccination against COVID-19 to include booster doses, and a link to World Health Organization's translated update on Omicron

  7. Added links to new translated guidance on booster doses and lateral flow tests, translated letters from the government to patients on the end of the shielding programme, and a vaccine confidence toolkit.

  8. Under 'COVID-19 translated advice and guidance', added links to translated guidance on antibody testing, face coverings and COVID-19 vaccination resources for children and young people.

  9. Added guidance about charging for hospital treatment of any secondary or subsequent illness, including long COVID.

  10. Added new translated letters and videos with information for people with no NHS number about how to register with a GP and book COVID-19 vaccines.

  11. Added links to new translated government guidance about how to stay safe and help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to translated vaccine infographics from the British Society of Immunology.

  12. Added links to guidance for providers of accommodation for asylum seekers and to COVID-19 vaccine social media cards.

  13. Added downloadable NHS England and NHS Improvement letter to help people without an NHS number access the COVID-19 vaccine and register with a GP.

  14. Updated information about the mental health of migrants during the pandemic.

  15. Added new links to translated guidance on how to stop the spread of COVID-19.

  16. Added links to translated resources about COVID-19 vaccination and blood clotting, and phase 2 of the vaccination programme.

  17. Added new links to translated resources about COVID-19 home test kits and vaccination status confirmation letters.

  18. Added translated resources about COVID-19 restrictions and vaccination guidance.

  19. Updated guidance on COVID-19 vaccinations for individuals who do not have an NHS number.

  20. Added additional translated resources for COVID-19 vaccine.

  21. Updated translations from the Department of Health and Social Care about charging exemptions for COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccination. Additional information added about vitamin D

  22. First published.