What is the Immigration Health Surcharge?
The Immigration Health Surcharge allows non-EEA migrants in the UK to access most NHS services with no further costs in the same capacity as ordinarily resident citizens. This means that, although you will have paid to use the service, you will not get preferential treatment and will be assessed the same as British citizens and those with Settled Status.
Some of the services not covered include eye tests, dentistry and prescriptions. For everything else, such as hospital and GP visits, the surcharge will cover your use.
The NHS Surcharge was introduced in 2015 as a way to combat ‘health tourism’. Heath tourism accounted for 0.3% of the government’s budget and can include British people coming back to the UK for medical treatment.
Access to the NHS will be granted for the full duration of your visa. However, if your visa is curtailed or withdrawn at any time, you will no longer be covered and will have to pay for any NHS services you use.
How much does the NHS Surcharge cost?
The Immigration Health Surcharge costs £624 per year for each applicant. This means that for a standard Spouse Visa, the applicant would have to pay £1,872 to cover the cost of three years in the UK.
Anybody else on your application, such as dependent children, will also have to pay the surcharge; the surcharge costs £470 per year for children. This means that a person on a five-year Skilled Worker visa with one child would have to pay £5,470 to cover both applicants.
If your application includes part of a year that is less than six months, you will pay for half a year. If your application includes half a year, that is more than six months, you will need to pay for the full year.
There is a discounted fee for students or those on a Youth Mobility Visa of £470 per year.
Who needs to pay it?
You will usually need to pay the health surcharge if you are entering on a partner or family visa, work visa or student visa.
Some applicants will be exempt but will still need to register for an IHS reference number. These include:
- Children under 18 who have been taken into state care;
- relevant civilian employees at NATO or the Australian Department of Defence in the UK (or their dependants)
There are also a number of applicants who will not need to pay and will not need to apply for a reference number. These include:
- Dependants of members of the UK armed forces;
- Members of another country’s armed forces who are not subject to immigration controls and their dependants;
- Those applying for the EEA Family Permit;
- Those applying to travel to the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands;
- Applicants who are victims of slavery or human trafficking;
- Those covered by the Home Office’s domestic violence concession and their dependants;
- Asylum seekers/refugees.
If you are applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you will not be required to pay for the NHS surcharge unless you are only granted limited leave.
Those entering on Visitor Visas will not be able to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge and instead will need to pay for health care services at the point of use.
How often do I need to pay?
When you make your IHS payment, you will be paying for every year that you will be in the country. This will be a one-off payment for as long as your visa lasts.
However, you will have to pay again once you renew your visa. This payment will also be for the full period of your visa.
Considering most applicants will only need to extend their visa once, you will usually only need to pay the health surcharge twice.
For those applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you will not need to pay the surcharge and will be able to access the NHS the same as any other ordinarily resident citizen in the UK.
How do I make the IHS payment?
The NHS Surcharge must be paid before you submit your application. You must complete the application online and include the reference number provided on your visa application forms or cover letter.
The information you will need to provide includes:
- Details about yourself: name, nationality, passport information;
- Information about your visa: dates applying for, type of visa;
- Course dates if you are a student;
You will also need to provide these details for each dependant that you are applying with. If you are joining someone in the UK who is also on a UK visa, you will need to give this information on them as well.