Expat Exchange
Free MembershipSign In

Healthcare in the UK

By Joshua Wood, LPC

William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance

Summary: Expats in the U.K. are able to utilize the public health care system, which is managed by the NHS. Many expats want to have private health insurance to help reduce wait times and several other reasons. Read for more details on how to navigate the system.

Expats in the UK - Healthcare in the UK

General Healthcare Info for Expats in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has a socialized health care system and a private healthcare system. The socialized system is called the National Health Service (official site), or more commonly "the NHS."

The NHS is one of the most well-known examples of socialized health care services in the world. Its adherents hold it up as one of the best and most accessible systems ever created, while its detractors decry long wait times and an uncertain financial future given an aging population and continuing rise in the cost of healthcare.

In order to gain access to the NHS system, you must establish legal and permanent residency - officially known in the UK as settlement or indefinite leave to remain and pay an immigration health surcharge (IHS).

Historically, expats that enter the U.K. have considered getting private health insurance a must. That shouldn't be viewed as an indictment of the system, but rather what expats have come to expect. Employers do not have to provide private insurance to their employees in the U.K., so it is viewed as a perk that expats want and employers will use to create a package that's attractive.

For expats that are concerned about wait times and who want access to quality care in a private setting can still choose to purchase international health insurance.

Get a free international health insurance quote from our partner, Allianz Care, whose plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Allianz's flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget.
Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance in UK

Get a free international health insurance quote from our partner, Allianz Care, whose plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Allianz's flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget.
Get a Quote

Health Surcharge for Expats on Visa Application

Expats often wo Pay for UK Healthcare as Part of Your Immigration Application

According to the NHS site, You'll have to pay:

  • 300 pounds per year for a student or Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa, for example 600 pounds for a 2-year visa
  • 400 pounds per year for all other visa and immigration applications, for example 2,000 pounds for a 5-year visa
  • Dependants usually need to pay the same amount as you.

You can pay for your U.K. Healthcare Surcharge online.

Medical Emergencies in the U.K.

In the event of an emergency in the U.K., dial 999 or 112.

The abbreviation A&E in the U.K. stands for "Accidents and Emergency Department", which is analogous to the E.R. (Emergency Room) in the United States.

Expats will have free access to emergency services in the U.K.

NHS Wait Times for Non-Emergent Procedures

On the NHS official website, you can read its Guide to NHS Waiting Times in England.

It notes:

"The maximum waiting time for non-urgent consultant-led treatments is 18 weeks from the day your appointment is booked through the NHS e-Referral Service, or when the hospital or service receives your referral letter."

"The maximum waiting time for suspected cancer is two weeks from the day your appointment is booked through the NHS e-Referral Service, or when the hospital or service receives your referral letter."

However, an article in the Independent.co.uk reported that NHS emergency hospital waiting times hit worst level since NHS records began.

It reads that: "Despite pressures from flu and bad weather so far this winter being significantly lower than in 2018, performance against the flagship four hour target in January hit its lowest level since its introduction in 2004."

Similarly, in an article in the Telegraph, Alarm raised over tripling in cancelled NHS appointments:

"Nine million patients a year are seeing crucial hospital appointments and operations cancelled by administrators - almost triple the number a decade ago, official statistics show."

Given these realities, it's not surprising that so many expats want private insurance.

International Health Insurance in UK

Get a free international health insurance quote from our partner, Allianz Care, whose plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Allianz's flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget.

International Health Insurance in UK

Get a free international health insurance quote from our partner, Allianz Care, whose plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Allianz's flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget.

Medicines in the U.K.

Access to medicines in the United Kingdom is excellent. There is an abundance of pharmacies where they can be accessed, many as over-the-counter medicines, while others will necessitate a prescription from your doctor.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

UK GuideUK Guide
Learn what members have to say about living in UK.

UK Forum UK Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in UK on our UK forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

UK Index UK Index
An index of all of our site's UK information.

Contribute to UK Network Contribute
Help others in UK by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in UK.

Expat Healthcare Advice in UKHealthcare & Health Insurance in UK

Expats in UK offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in UK.

Expat Talk about Healthcare Advice in UKMembers Talk about Healthcare & Health Insurance in UK

Expats in UK offer advice about healthcare in UK.

Real Estate in UKReal Estate in UK

Real estate listings in popular cities and towns in UK.

Guide to Real Estate in UKGuide to Real Estate in UK

Advice for people renting and buying real estate in UK.

Pros Cons of Living in UKPros & Cons of Living in UK

Take off your rose-colored glasses and learn what digital nomads & expats have to say about the biggest challenges and the greatest rewards of living in UK.

Cost of Living in UKCost of Living in UK

Digital Nomads & Expats offer insight into the cost of living in UK.

Healthcare-in-the-UKHealthcare in the UK

Expats in the U.K. are able to utilize the public health care system, which is managed by the NHS. Many expats want to have private health insurance to help reduce wait times and several other reasons. Read for more details on how to navigate the system.

10-Tips-for-Living-in-the-United-Kingdom10 Tips for Living in the United Kingdom

Expats in the United Kingdom live in one of the most sought after destinations in the world. Its four countries - England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - offer expats a broad range of expatriate experiences.

5-Tips-for-Living-in-St-Albans,-England5 Tips for Living in St Albans, England

Expats living in St Albans live in a suburb with a very easy commute to London. Almost all of the areas within St Albans are desirable. In addition to a lot of options for enjoying the great outdoors, there's plenty of shopping, dining, and pubs.

5-Tips-for-Living-in-Hassocks,-England5 Tips for Living in Hassocks, England

Expats living in Hassocks live in a suburb with a relatively easy commute to London. It's proximity to the South Downs and Brighton make Hassocks a small town worth considering a London suburb.

William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell Health Insurance
William Russell Health Insurance

Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

Allianz Care International Health InsuranceInternational Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

UK GuideUK Guide
Learn what members have to say about living in UK.

UK Forum UK Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in UK on our UK forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

UK Index UK Index
An index of all of our site's UK information.

Contribute to UK Network Contribute
Help others in UK by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in UK.

Expat Healthcare Advice in UKHealthcare & Health Insurance in UK

Expats in UK offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in UK.

Expat Talk about Healthcare Advice in UKMembers Talk about Healthcare & Health Insurance in UK

Expats in UK offer advice about healthcare in UK.

Real Estate in UKReal Estate in UK

Real estate listings in popular cities and towns in UK.

Guide to Real Estate in UKGuide to Real Estate in UK

Advice for people renting and buying real estate in UK.

Pros Cons of Living in UKPros & Cons of Living in UK

Take off your rose-colored glasses and learn what digital nomads & expats have to say about the biggest challenges and the greatest rewards of living in UK.

Cost of Living in UKCost of Living in UK

Digital Nomads & Expats offer insight into the cost of living in UK.

5-Tips-for-Living-in-Hassocks,-England5 Tips for Living in Hassocks, England

Expats living in Hassocks live in a suburb with a relatively easy commute to London. It's proximity to the South Downs and Brighton make Hassocks a small town worth considering a London suburb.

5-Tips-for-Living-in-Gerrards-Cross,-England5 Tips for Living in Gerrards Cross, England

Expats living in Gerrards Cross live in a suburb with a relatively easy commute to London. As with other suburbs close to London, you will pay a premium for the easy access.

5-Tips-for-Living-in-Sevenoaks,-England5 Tips for Living in Sevenoaks, England

Expats in the UK who want to live outside of London but work in the city might find Sevenoaks in Kent to be the perfect place. While it offers a great commute time by train, you will pay a premium for the convenience.

5-Best-Suburbs-for-Expats-Living-in-London5 Best Suburbs for Expats Living in London

Expats moving to the UK who plan to work in London often want to live in a village or smaller city and commute to the city. Here are a few options to consider.

Copyright 1997-2022 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal