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International Students


The National Health Service (NHS) is the UK’s state healthcare system providing a wide range of 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 be able to advise on this and may recommend a GP practice.

Student visa and immigration health surcharge

Those applying for a 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 £470 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 £235. If the leave includes part of a year that is more than 6 months, the full annual amount of £470 will be payable. Family members applying for a dependant visa will also be required to pay the surcharge. The immigration health surcharge is in addition to the visa application fee.

For students applying for entry clearance from overseas, the surcharge will apply to visas granted for more than 6 months. Those applying for further permission to stay in the UK will pay the surcharge regardless of the new visa length.

The immigration health surcharge will entitle students to access the NHS 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.

EU nationals:

EU students studying full-time may be entitled to a full or partial refund of the immigration health surcharge payment if you have an EHIC issued in an EU country and you do not work in the UK. You will not be able to apply for a refund until 1 January 2022 but, if eligible, this will be backdated to include any immigration health surcharge payments made for a visa starting on or after 1 January 2021. Further guidance about this is currently limited but the information available is outlined on the Government website under the heading ‘Students’ in the section ‘When your healthcare costs in the UK are covered by an EU country’.

Short study periods

If you apply for your visa from overseas and it is granted for less than six months or you are required to make a number of occasional visits to the UK for short study periods, 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).

EU Settlement Scheme

EEA and Swiss nationals who are granted a status under the EU Settlement Scheme have their UK residence protected after Brexit and are entitled to use National Health Services for free if ordinarily resident in the UK. Students living and studying in the UK are normally considered to be ordinarily resident. Eligibility for the EU Settlement Scheme is based on having been resident in the UK by 31 December 2020.

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.