As part of your visa application you may need to pay a healthcare charge, called the ‘Immigration Health Surcharge’ (IHS), to the health services in the UK.
If you apply for your visa online you’ll pay the charge, and be assigned an IHS number, when you pay for your application. If you apply by post, you’ll need to pay the charge and be assigned an IHS number before you apply for a visa; your visa application form won’t be processed without it.
Some nationals may be exempt from the charge, but will still need to be assigned an IHS reference number.
If you are a non-UK/Irish national applying for immigration permission to work, study or join your family in the UK for more than 6 months, you will need to pay the IHS fee and obtain an IHS reference number.
There are a few exceptions, which are listed on the gov.uk website. These include applicants to the EU Settlement Scheme and asylum seekers.
If you are applying for a Visitor visa, or any other kind of visa of up to 6 months, or Indefinite Leave to Remain, you will not need to pay the IHS fee or have an IHS reference number. You will however need to pay for any National Health Service (NHS) care you get at the point you use it – unless it is a service that is free.
Unless you are exempt, you will need to pay the IHS fee when you submit your visa application. The amount will depend on the length of your visa. Once payment is made, you will receive an IHS reference number. Your visa will not be considered if you have not paid the surcharge. Once you have paid, you will then be able to use the NHS.
Bear in mind that all UK residents pay for some services such as prescriptions, dental treatment and eye tests.
The IHS fee is currently £624 per person, per year of the visa (April 2021). For example, if you apply for a 3-year Skilled Worker visa, your IHS surcharge will be £1,872. If any dependants, such as your spouse or partner and children are coming with you, you will also have to pay the IHS fee for them. There is a reduced fee of £470 per person, per year of the visa for children under 18, students and their family members, and Youth Mobility Scheme visa holders.
The exact amount you have to pay depends on how much leave you’re granted. You can calculate how much you’ll have to pay on the UK government website.
For more information on the NHS see the health section of this website.