The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) will increase by 66% from £624 per year to £1,035 for all immigration applications made on or after 06 February 2024. This follows the UK Government's announcement in July 2023. The reduced IHS rate for students and applicants under the age of 18 will also increase from £470 per year to £776 per year.
What is the IHS?
The Immigration Health Surcharge was introduced with the implementation of the Immigration (Health Charge) Order 2015. Its purpose is to prevent visitors and those staying for a limited period of time from accessing medical treatment by the National Health Service (NHS) without paying a fee. At the time it was introduced in April 2015, the fee was just £200 per year.
The NHS is available for free to British citizens and those "ordinarily resident" in the UK. You cannot be considered "ordinarily resident" unless you have indefinite leave to remain or settled/pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
NHS treatment includes urgent and emergency hospital care and GP consultations, but excludes dentistry, prescriptions, and assisted conception services. As part of the vast majority of immigration applications to the UK, applicants must pay the applicable IHS fee at the time their application is made.
Who has to pay the IHS?
The Immigration Health Surcharge is payable in most instances for applicants coming to the UK or extending their permission to stay in the UK as students, dependants, or on business or work visas. Those applying for a visitor visa, health & care worker visa, indefinite leave to remain, or under the EU Settlement Scheme will not have to pay the IHS.
How much is the IHS?
You can use the IHS Calculator to check how much you will have to pay before you apply.
Can the IHS be refunded?
The IHS fee will be refunded if your application is unsuccessful or withdrawn, normally within 6 weeks of the date the decision was made. Applicants will not be eligible for a full or partial refund if they are granted a visa but chose not to travel to the UK, or they leave (or are told to leave) the UK before the end of their visa.
When is NHS use permitted?
For applicants making an application from within the UK, use of NHS services will incur a fee until their application is granted. This means that applicants waiting for an outcome cannot rely on payment of the IHS to access NHS services for free. It is important to note that there is no charge for certain types of treatment such as A&E outpatient treatment, treatment for some infectious diseases, or treatment of sexually transmitted infections. These exemptions apply regardless of eligibility, and are designed for vulnerable people who require urgent or immediate care. Read more about accessing the NHS on a visitor visa.
How much will the NHS charge for treatment?
If you are in the UK for less than 6 months and receive NHS services to which you are not entitled, you will be liable to pay any invoice you receive (even if you leave the UK before you receive notification of a requirement to pay). Fees are calculated at a rate of 150% of the NHS base rate. It is, therefore, advisable to arrange private medical insurance to cover the duration of your trip.
What happens if payment is not made for NHS treatment?
Not paying an NHS invoice or a request from UKVI for additional IHS will have adverse consequences on your future immigration applications, meaning your next application could be refused. Unpaid debts over £500.00 are reported to UKVI after 2 months.
Contact us if you have a query about the Immigration Health Surcharge, NHS treatment, or the processing of your refund.