Accessing Health Services

National Health Service (NHS)

The National Health Service is the UK’s state health service, which provides treatment for UK residents through a wide range of healthcare services. Some of these services are free and others must be paid for.

All students (and their dependants) who are studying in the UK for six months or more are entitled to register with the NHS. As a patient, the NHS is accessed through your General Practitioner (GP / Family Doctor). If you are already registered with a GP in the UK and move to Oxford to study, you are advised to register with a local practice.

If you are entitled to NHS treatment then the following services are provided without further charge:

• consulting a GP and most other GP services (e.g. visiting a clinic)
• treatment in a hospital (both emergency and non-emergency)

Services that you may need to pay for are:

• medicines prescribed by your GP
• maternity/midwifery services
• Some GP services such as vaccinations for travel and obtaining a sickness certificate (the GP surgery should have a list of charges for such services)
• dental treatment
• optical treatment

Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

An immigration health charge for access to NHS treatment was introduced on 6 April 2015 as part of Tier 4/Student and other visa applications, including for student dependants. The charge must be paid even if you have your own private medical insurance and do not intend to use the NHS.

Please note that students who already hold a Tier 4 visa will not need to take any action. Their visa will remain valid until its expiry. The new Student visa route applies to students who started, or required a new visa (e.g. following a period of suspension) from Michaelmas 2021. 

The charge for a student is currently £470 for each year or part year over six months of the visa being applied for, plus £235 for part of a year that is less than six months, although the exact amount you pay depends on how much leave you are granted. Dependants usually pay the same amount as you. You’ll find the most up to date information on charges available at

Students who already have a visa will be covered as normal for NHS treatment unless and until they need to make a further visa application.

Anyone applying for entry clearance of up to six months or less is exempt and will instead have to pay for any healthcare at the point of use.

The Short-Term Student Visas have been replaced by the Visitor Visa or a student visa. The Short-Term Student Visa will only be offered to those studying English in the UK. For advice about the type of visa you should apply for, please contact your course administrator or the University Student Immigration team. If you are entering the UK with a short-term or visitor visa you must ensure that you have sufficient private medical and travel insurance.  

Healthcare for EEA and Swiss students

Students who have been granted pre-settled status or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme are eligible for free treatment under the NHS. If you are visiting from the EU, EEA or Switzerland for a short period (six months of less) you should bring your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you are eligible to continue using it in the UK, see the UK Government website for changes as a result of the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Students who require a visa and are studying full-time for more than six months will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge as part of their visa application. If your healthcare is paid for by an EU member state, you may be eligible for a full or partial reimbursement of your immigration health surcharge. Further information about the reimbursement process is available here 

For the most up to date information please refer to

Updated on: 21/07/2023