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International Students


The National Health Service (NHS) is the UK’s state healthcare system providing a wide range of health care services including appointments with a doctor, hospital treatment and dental care. You should register with a doctor as soon as possible after your arrival in Cambridge. Your College will give advice on this and may recommend a GP practice. You will need your passport and a letter from your College as proof you are a student.

Tier 4 students

Those applying for a Tier 4 student visa and coming to the UK for 6 months or longer will be required to pay an immigration health surcharge as part of their visa application fee.

Students will be required to pay £150 per year for the duration the visa will be granted. If the leave includes part of a year that is 6 months or less, the amount payable for that year will be £75. If the leave includes part of a year that is more than 6 months, the full annual amount of £150 will be payable. Tier 4 dependants will also be required to pay the surcharge. The immigration healthcharge is in addition to the visa application fee.

Please note the Home Office has announced this charge will increase to £300 per year from December 2018, subject to Parliamentary approval. 

For students applying for entry clearance from overseas, the surcharge will apply to visa applications for courses of 6 months or longer. For students making an application for further leave to remain in the UK, the surcharge will apply for courses of any length.

The immigration health surcharge will entitle Tier 4 students to access NHS care in the UK at no additional cost in the same way as a permanent UK resident. This includes at the Doctor's surgery (known as General Practitioner or GP), a Healthcare Centre or in a hospital. You may need to pay for dental and optical treatment as well as medicine prescribed by the doctor and collected from a pharmacy. There are also exceptions for particularly expensive discretionary treatments.

If your visa application is not successful, you will automatically be refunded the immigration health surcharge (but not the visa application fee). The surcharge will not be partially refunded if you depart the UK earlier than the expiry of your visa. The surcharge is also not refunded if you do not use the NHS during your time in the UK.


EEA and Swiss nationals

The UK's Department of Health has produced a leaflet on Health Care Information for students from the European Economic Area who may wish to use the National Health Service (NHS).

Non-UK European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals, and their family, should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before coming to the UK to ensure access to NHS services for free.

If you are exercising your right to reside in the UK as a student, in accordance with UK EEA regulations you are required to hold comprehensive sickness insurance throughout your period of residence in the UK. Having a valid EHIC issued by an EEA member state other than the UK satisfies this requirement if you are residing in the UK on a temporary basis as a student. If you are not entitled to an EHIC, the requirement to hold comprehensive sickness insurance can be fulfilled with a private medical insurance policy which covers the cost of the majority of medical treatment in the UK. Further information on the requirement for comprehensive sickness insurance is provided by the UK Council for International Student Affairs.

Short study periods

If your course is less than six months or you are required to make a number of occasional visits to the UK for short study periods and you are from a non-EEA country, you are advised to take out medical insurance as you will be liable for NHS charges for the treatment you receive in the UK except for in a medical emergency and this is limited. Some countries have a reciprocal agreement with the UK which may entitle you to some free healthcare on the NHS but you should seek advice from the health authorities in your home country about what treatment will be covered. EEA nationals should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).


Private Medical Insurance

You cannot take out private healthcare insurance as an alternative to paying the health immigration surcharge as this is a mandatory fee included as part of your visa application. It is a personal decision whether you also have private healthcare insurance. You may wish to consider this to cover the following potential health-related costs:

  • Loss of fees if you are unable to complete your course
  • Costs incurred returning to your home country for treatment
  • Private medical treatment

If you already have medical insurance in your home country, you may wish to check whether this can be extended to cover your stay in the UK.