The UK Healthcare Surcharge

Since April 2015, applicants for certain UK visas have been required to pay a healthcare surcharge (sometimes also called an ‘immigration health surcharge’ or ‘IHS’) in addition to the standard visa application fee. Payment of the surcharge entitles successful visa applicants to access the National Health Service (NHS), the UK’s public healthcare system.

Eligibility to access the NHS is usually based on whether an individual is ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK. Visa holders who are exempt from paying the healthcare surcharge will therefore usually still be able to eligible to access public healthcare in the UK.

While much NHS care is free at the point of use (e.g. doctors appointments, diagnostic tests, emergency treatment), certain services such as dental treatment, eye care and prescriptions usually require payment of an additional fee.

Will I need to pay the healthcare surcharge?

If you are applying for a visa from outside the UK which will last for longer than 6 months, or for any length of time from inside the UK, you will usually need to pay the healthcare surcharge.

You may have healthcare cover as part of your travel insurance, or specific health insurance from a UK or international provider. While you may choose to rely on private coverage for any healthcare needs while in the UK rather than on the NHS, this will not affect any obligation to pay the healthcare surcharge.

You must pay the healthcare surcharge if instructed to do so by UK Visas and Immigration. Failure to do so will result in your visa or settlement application being rejected.

Individuals in the following circumstances will also not need to pay the healthcare surcharge:

  • applicants for short visas (under 6 months) who are applying from outside the UK
  • applicants for visitor visas
  • applicants for permanent settlement
  • applicants to the EU Settlement Scheme
  • diplomats or members of visiting armed forces who are not subject to immigration control
  • dependants of someone in the UK armed forces or another country’s armed forces who is not subject to immigration control
  • applicants for visas for the Isle of Man, the Bailiwick of Jersey or the Bailiwick of Guernsey
  • asylum seekers and applicants for humanitarian protection (and their dependants)
  • domestic workers who are victims of human trafficking or slavery

How much is the UK healthcare surcharge?

The healthcare surcharge is calculated based on the intended length of the visa you are applying for. Note that the length of your visa may be longer than the period of study or employment that it is based on.

The basic healthcare surcharge is set at £624 per year for most visa applications. A lower surcharge of £470 per year is applied to students, Youth Mobility Scheme applicants and individuals aged under 18. A reduced half-rate is available for individuals applying from inside the UK for a visa of 6 months or less.

These amounts are subject to change, as the UK Government can choose to increase the healthcare surcharge at any time.

Demetris Demetriou

Demetris is a dual-qualified lawyer in the UK (Solicitor) and Cyprus (Advocate) with 10+ years of experience in UK immigration. He completed his legal studies at University College London and City University London. Over the course of his career, he held key roles as Head of Immigration at Legal 500 firms and within the Big4, overseeing teams of 15+ fee earners handling 2000+ applications annually.

Demetris went on to co-establish his firm in London and continues to offer innovative solutions and strategic immigration planning to multinationals, SMEs, and private clients.

He personally represented 1500+ clients in 30+ visa routes including investors, entrepreneurs, innovators, sole representatives, students, family visas, global talent, UK ancestry, administrative reviews and appeals. Demetris has managed corporate relocations, conducted immigration law training and implemented post-Brexit immigration policies for corporate clients.

Demetris has been featured in various events and publications focusing on UK immigration, notably at the Cambridge Network, the Westminster Policy Forum and most recently at DGEMS, a global mobility summit hosted by Forbes India.

If you would like to discuss your UK immigration matter or have any questions about your options for immigrating to the UK, you can book a consultation here.

Tatiani Preifelt

Tatiani has a wealth of expertise in global mobility and corporate immigration. Her ample skills were acquired within leading immigration practices including three out of the Big4 firms in both the UK and Sweden. Tatiani went on to co-establish her firm in London where she continues to advise clients predominantly in corporate, business and skilled work migration.

Having personally relocated to 10 different countries, Tatiani understands the importance of an expedient and successful immigration process and takes pride in delivering a seamless experience to her clients as well.

Over the course of her career, she has assisted over 500 individuals and businesses to obtain the appropriate visa permits in the UK.

Her awarded academic work at The University of Oxford, The London School of Economics, and at The Geneva University is in the fields of Political Science, International Human Rights Law, and Global Migration Governance.

She regularly provides immigration training and has recently participated as a speaker and panellist at DGEMS 2023, a global mobility summit hosted by Forbes India.

If you would like to discuss your UK immigration matter or have any questions about your options for immigrating to the UK, you can book a consultation here.