Overseas Visitors

If you’re visiting the United Kingdom (UK) and require treatment at one of our hospitals (The Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, St Michael’s Hospital in Hayle, or West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance), you may have to pay for your treatment.

Who needs to pay for treatment?

If you’re not a UK resident when you need treatment, you’re classed as an overseas visitor.

NHS hospitals have a legal duty to establish if you need to pay for treatment or, if you’re exempt from charges. Where there’s no exemption, you’ll be charged for your treatment.

How we establish UK residency

When you arrive at the hospital, you’ll need to confirm how long you have lived in the UK. You may have to complete a form and provide documents to prove that you’re normally a UK resident.
UK residency usually applies if you’re living in the UK on a lawful and properly settled basis. It’s not guaranteed by:

  • British nationality
  • Holding a British passport
  • Being registered with a GP
  • Having an NHS number
  • Owning property in the UK
  • Having paid (or currently paying) National Insurance contributions and UK taxes

If you cannot provide documents to prove your UK residency, you may have to pay a deposit equal to the estimated cost of your treatment. You will need to pay the deposit before your appointment or treatment.

If a doctor or nurse determines your treatment as urgent, or you need maternity services, you’ll receive immediate treatment. You’ll then need to pay for your treatment when you receive an invoice from the hospital.

Documents you can use to prove your residency

You can use the following documents as proof of UK residency. You must provide one photographic document for identity purposes, and an additional document as proof of your address.

Identity proof includes:

  • A current signed passport
  • Biometric residence permit issued by the Home Office
  • Valid UK photo-card driving licence
  • EU or Swiss national identity photo card
  • Application registration card (ARC)
  • Valid armed forces or police photographic identity card

Proof of address documents must contain your current address and be less than six months old. This includes:

  • A recent original utility bill such as gas, electric, water or landline telephone. (We do not accept mobile phone bills.)
  • Council tax bill for the current year
  • Recent original mortgage statement from a recognised lender
  • Current council house or housing association tenancy agreement, or rent book
  • Notification letter from the Department for Work and Pensions confirming your National Insurance number, entitlement to benefits or state pension

If you live in the European Economic Area (EEA) countries or Switzerland

If you need treatment during your visit to the UK, you’ll need to show your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). If you do not have an EHIC card, you’ll need to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC). A PRC will provide the same cover as an EHIC until you return home.

If you do not have either of these documents, and cannot demonstrate that you’re exempt from charges, you’ll need to pay for your treatment. You can recover the costs from your healthcare abroad team when you return home.

How can I get a PRC?

It’s your responsibility to apply for a PRC and provide it the hospital. To apply for a PRC contact your country’s issuing authority. You can find their contact details on the European Commission website.

If you don’t pay

If you fail to pay for necessary NHS treatment, you may not be allowed to remain in the UK. Any future applications for UK entry may also be denied. The Home Office may receive necessary, non-medical information via the Department of Health and Social Care for this purpose.

Which NHS services are free to everyone?

Some services or treatments carried out in an NHS hospital are free to everyone. These include:

  • Family planning services
  • Treatment of most infectious diseases, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Emergency Department services up to the point you’re admitted as an inpatient or given an outpatient appointment – This means that you’ll need to pay for emergency treatment elsewhere in the hospital or urgent treatment after admission.

If you need more help

Contact the Overseas Visitors Team from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm on 01872 252245 or rcht.overseas@nhs.net.

Visit the NHS website for more information on how to access NHS services if you’re an overseas visitor.