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Overseas Visitors

Are you visiting the United Kingdom?

The National Health Service (NHS) provides free hospital treatment for people who live in the United Kingdom. However if you do not usually live in the UK or if you have spent time living outside the UK you may have to pay for your treatment.

Health tourism has become a huge financial burden on the NHS and the Department of Health has introduced strict rules which we must adhere to.

Hospitals are responsible for checking who should pay for NHS hospital treatment and the law requires every NHS Trust to check all patients to determine whether they are entitled to free NHS hospital treatment.

In order to confirm your residential status all patients will be asked the following questions, please do not be offended.

“Where have you lived for the last 12 months?"

"Can you show that you have a right to live here?”

When do charges apply?

Hospital treatment is free to 'permanent residents' of the UK. But if you are visiting the UK – to stay with family, on business, as a tourist, or if you are living here without proper permission – then you will be charged for the treatment you receive. Not paying this charge may have an effect on any future immigration application you make and you risk being turned down.

Some services or treatments are exempt from charges, so that they are free to all overseas visitors. For example infectious diseases, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs) will be treated for free of charge.

If you are taken to A&E, a minor injuries unit or walk-in centre for emergency treatment then this is free of charge. However, if you are admitted to hospital for any other emergency treatment a charge will be incurred.

Compulsory psychiatric treatment, treatment imposed by a court order and family planning services are also free.


Some people who are not permanent residents in the UK are still entitled to at least some hospital treatment free of charge.

These include those working for UK-based employers and students on courses of at least six months in duration.

UK state pensioners living outside the EEA, and those visiting from countries that have a reciprocal healthcare agreement with the UK, are also entitled to free hospital treatment, but not pre-planned treatment or treatment that can await their return home.

European Union Patients

If you are a legal resident of a country within the European Union, then you will need to provide a current and valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or Provisional Replacement Card (PRC) upon attending the hospital. Failure to provide a valid card may result in you having to pay for your treatment. You may then be able to claim this back from your home country on return.

If you have reason to believe that you may not be eligible for free NHS care please  inform a member of staff or contact:


 York Hospital

Overseas Visitor Officer

01904 725105  

 Scarborough Hospital

01723 712369  

Our staff will be able to confirm whether you are entitled to free healthcare.

More information can be found on the Department of Health’s website.

To download a copy of our information leaflet click below.

pdf iconVisitor information - Overseas patients.pdf (150.2KB)

Are you visiting the United Kingdom?

Have you been living outside the UK?

Did you know that you may have to pay for your hospital treatment?


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