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Complete Guide to the Immigration Health Surcharge by G8Way

The immigration health surcharge – sometimes also known as the ‘healthcare surcharge’ – is an additional fee payable by all visa and immigration applicants. It permits non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals to access National Health Service (NHS) healthcare for the duration of their stay in the UK.

There are some exceptions, which are dependent on the immigration status you are making an application for.

Even if you have private medical insurance, you will still need to pay the charge.

Who has to pay?

The immigration health surcharge is applicable to

  • nationals from countries outside the EEA (excluding Switzerland) when applying for a visa to join relatives, to work or to study for a period of more than six months.
  • nationals from outside the EEA or Switzerland making an immigration application (from within the UK) for any period of time, including less than six months.

Of course, this means non-EEA citizens entering the UK to study are more than likely to be affected.

What you will need

You need to pay the surcharge fee as part of the online application. If you are applying via a premium service centre, you will be charged at the time of booking an appointment.

Assuming you are a student, you will need:

  • your debit or credit card
  • your course dates

For postal applications, you will need:

  • to specify which type of visa you are applying for
  • an email address
  • a travel document or passport number

How much will I have to pay?

The immigration health surcharge fee for students is £150. All other immigration and visa applicants pay £200. Any dependants will usually be charged the same fee.

What happens next?

Once you have paid your healthcare surcharge fee, you should expect to receive an email from UK Visas and Immigration. This will inform you if you do not have to pay the surcharge and/or qualify for a refund.

If you have not yet paid the fee, or have not paid enough, you will be given a short amount of time to pay, equating to ten working days if outside of the UK, or seven working days if inside.

We urge you not to ignore this email, because your application will be refused if you don’t pay.

Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) reference number

Most applications will be given an IHS number, even if you are exempt from paying, in order to complete the visa or immigration process.

There are some groups of people who do not have to pay the surcharge or have an IHS number to access the NHS, such as armed forces dependants, asylum seekers and human trafficking victims. A full list of exempt groups can be found on the UK government website, but generally speaking, students can expect to have to pay the surcharge.

Short-term options 

If you are applying for a visitor visa or a visa of less than six months from outside the UK, you will not need to pay the healthcare fee or need an IHS number. In this instance, the rules are that you are charged by the NHS at the point of service.

This might be worth thinking about if you only expect to be studying in the UK for a short time, perhaps as one small component of your course.

Once your immigration or visa application has been granted and you have paid the healthcare surcharge (if applicable), you will be able to access NHS services in the UK and enjoy your studies without the fear of unexpected health costs.

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