Overseas patients

To be entitled to free NHS-funded care, you need to be “ordinarily resident” in the United Kingdom. To establish your eligibility, you may be asked questions about your residential status.

This will mean for EEA nationals that because of Brexit, you will be asked to confirm your continual UK residence i.e. you have been living in the UK on a continual basis and are not just visiting the UK.

EEA nationals living in the UK prior to 31 December 2020 will have until 30 June 2021 to sort out pre-settled or settled status which is a requirement for them to regularise their stay in the UK and means that they will be able to continue to live and work in the UK once the UK leaves the EU (you can find more information by following this link). This is an immigration status only and proof of continual residence in the UK is required as well to grant your entitlement to NHS hospital care free of charges.

You should be prepared to provide evidence if requested and this would be one item from the following list.


  • National ID card
  • Passport and Visa (both if applicable to you)

(The proof you use must be less than three months old. Your name and address needs to be on the letter):

  • Bank or building society statement
  • Rent Agreement or Mortgage details
  • Telephone bill
  • Water, gas, electric or Council Tax bill
  • A letter from your college confirming you are attending a full-time or part-time course of study (including course duration and number of hours per week of attendance) 0 Copy of any birth/marriage certificates
  • An IND and ARC (for patients claiming asylum)
  • Any Home Office issued documents which are relevant to your application
  • European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) 0 Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC)
  • Evidence of sickness insurance
  • Letter or statement from HMRC or DWP
  • National Insurance or benefits letter
  • Wage slip or a P60

All evidence requests can be responded to in writing by sending copies in the post to

Overseas Team
Conquest Hospital
The Ridge
St Leonards-on-Sea
East Sussex, TN37 7RD

legal obligation to identify patients who are not entitled to free NHS treatment

NHS trusts have a legal obligation to identify patients who are not entitled to free NHS treatment and to make and recover charges for the NHS services provided. These obligations are set out in the guidance published by the Department of Health.

We may use your information to

  • Establish your identity and your entitlement to free NHS treatment
  • Record NHS debtors to the Department of Health and Social Care
  • Determine your immigration status using Home Office services (you will be informed if this happens)

Overseas visitors who may qualify for free healthcare

  • A Non-European student studying full time in the UK or an individual who has come to work in the UK on a relevant visa and has paid the health surcharge
  • A refugee or an asylum seeker whose formal application to the UK Border Agency is being considered. You will need to provide documentary evidence such as your Application Registration Card (ARC) and we will need to confirm that your application is still being considered. Please note that you will still need to pay for any medication prescribed to you.
  • A citizen who normally lives in a country that is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) and has a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in their name. This card covers immediately necessary treatment only, to prevent you from cutting short your visit to the UK.  You must bring this card with you to hospital.

The countries are:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus (Southern), Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal,  Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, UK, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Switzerland by special arrangement. (This may be subject to change as a result of Brexit as the reciprocal agreements between the UK and EEA countries may not exist).

  • A citizen who normally lives in a country that has a reciprocal healthcare agreement with the UK. There are a number of variations in the level of free treatment afforded to visitors travelling to the UK from these countries. Generally, only immediate medical treatment is to be provided free of charge.  They do not usually apply when the person has travelled to the UK for the purpose of obtaining healthcare. Further details can be provided on request from the overseas team.

Please note that if the agreement is withdrawn during your treatment you will become immediately responsible for the cost of the remainder of your course of treatment.

The countries are currently

Anguilla, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, British Virgin Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Jersey, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Montserrat, New Zealand, Serbia, St Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands

  • You fall within a group of individuals who are entitled to receive healthcare on the same or similar basis as an ordinarily resident person.

Who may not qualify for free healthcare

  • An individual without legal status at point of treatment including failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants if not supported by Home Office or Local Authority
  • Ex-pats who now ordinarily reside overseas.
  • An individual with a Biometric Residency Permit (BRP) whose card is marked to confirm their “visitor” or “temporary stay” status in the UK. This may include academic visitors and private medical visitors.

Provision of treatment to overseas visitors in an Emergency Department

Treatment received in our Emergency Departments (A&E) is free. However, if you are admitted to hospital as an inpatient or receive any outpatient appointments charges will apply.

If your country of residence has a reciprocal agreement covering your emergency treatment in the UK, please advise our Emergency Department reception staff.

In these instances we will re-coup the cost of your care from your country of residence.

Urgent treatment

We will always provide treatment that a clinician has assessed as immediately necessary or urgent. All maternity treatment is regarded as immediately necessary. Treatment is not free however by virtue of it being immediately necessary or urgent and if you are a chargeable overseas visitor, you will be charged for any admitted or outpatient care you receive.

Non-urgent treatment

For treatment assessed by a clinician as non-urgent, the full estimated cost of treatment must be paid before treatment is provided.  This will include the cost of initial assessment and investigations to make a diagnosis. You will be provided with our bank details and a unique reference to be able to make payment to an account for your treatment.

Overseas visitors with private health insurance

If you have private health insurance you must provide a letter of guarantee from your insurer to cover the full cost of your treatment.  If you are unable to provide a letter of guarantee you will be required to pay for your healthcare yourself.

Overseas visitors required to pay for NHS hospital healthcare

You will have the opportunity to pay:

  • from an overseas bank account
  • by debit / credit card
  • by setting up a standing order to pay the Trust, or
  • by cash with our cashiers department

With all payment methods you should quote the account number on your invoice.

All routine and planned care must be paid for in advance of care being received.

More information

Please contact the overseas visitors’ team to discuss your individual circumstances as this may vary on a case by case basis or for further guidance and support: