student smiling

Healthcare in the UK

Accessing NHS services as an international student

Anybody aged 18 or over in the UK is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination for free, regardless of their nationality or immigration status. Nobody in England has to pay for the COVID-19 vaccination. The COVID-19 vaccination is free of charge and does not count as the kind of care that requires payment. Further information and how international students and any dependents can get a vaccine can be found on the NHS website.

The UK has a National Health Service (NHS) – so unlike many other regions and countries around the world, healthcare is funded by taxes and is free to British citizens at the point of delivery.

If you join us on a Student Route visa for a full-time course or part-time postgraduate course for more than 6 months, you will be subject to the Immigration Health Surcharge of £470 per year, payable with your visa application. This helps cover your NHS costs while you're in the UK, so you can access NHS services whenever you need them.

If you have any dependants living permanently with you for the duration of your course, they must also pay the surcharge when they apply for their visa. You'll all need to pay any additional statutory NHS charges, like any prescriptions.

EU, EEA and Swiss Citizens

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who was resident in the UK before 30 December 2020 and have been granted Settled or Pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) or have an EUSS application pending, you can access free healthcare through the NHS as long as you continue to be ordinarily resident in the UK. The NHS may ask for evidence of your status. Further information about access to the NHS can be found on the website.

If you are studying in the UK for less than six months and are citizen of the EU or Norway, you can access medical treatment if you hold a valid EU issued EHIC card. Citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland will need to pay for medical care.

IHS Reimbursement for EU and Swiss Citizens

If you have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) for a Student Route visa started on or after 1 January 2021, are a full-time student and do not work in the UK, you may be entitled to apply for an IHS reimbursement after 1 January 2022. You must also have an EHIC card issued in an EU country or Switzerland.

If you’re a student from the EU, the reimbursement will be backdated to include any IHS payments made for a visa starting on or after 1 January 2021.

If you’re a student from Switzerland, the reimbursement will be backdated from 1 November 2021 at the earliest, even if your visa started between 1 January 2021 and 31 October 2021.

You’ll get an IHS reimbursement that covers the period that your EHIC is valid in the UK. In order to be eligible for a full reimbursement, you should ensure that you hold a valid EHIC for the duration of your stay.

If you wish to work in the UK you should not apply for the reimbursement.

Travelling to and from the UK and study of less than 6 months

We recommend that you buy travel insurance that includes comprehensive sickness cover for the duration of your studies to cover any travel that you may do between the UK and other countries. You should buy this insurance before you travel to the UK so that you are covered for your journey to the UK and any journeys to your home country or for holidays.

Private healthcare

You can choose to take private medical cover if you prefer. We can't recommend any specific medical insurance providers, but all should be able to provide insurance that covers:

  • The cost of bringing a relative to the UK to visit you after a medical emergency or if you get sick
  • The cost of returning to your home country for treatment if this is necessary
  • The cost of returning to your home country if a family member is sick
  • Lost tuition fees if you're unable to complete your course

Healthcare in Portsmouth

We hope you don't need medical attention while you're living in Portsmouth – but if you do, there are plenty of doctor's surgeries in the area. Register with one as soon as you arrive, so you know who to contact if you are ill or injured. For details about registering, contact your chosen surgery directly.

You can also visit St Mary’s NHS Treatment Centre, where no appointments are necessary. The local hospital in Portsmouth is Queen Alexandra Hospital in the north of the city, and this does have an Accident and Emergency (A&E) department.

In an emergency, you should call 999 and ask for the appropriate emergency service.

For urgent healthcare needs that are not quite emergencies, call 111 – a free service that allows you to speak to NHS staff.

You can also get advice on minor ailments – such as bugs and viruses, minor injuries and aches and pains – from your local pharmacy or chemist. For more information on pharmacists and when they might be able to help, visit PharmacyFirst.