Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

When you make a visa application to the UK you may have to pay an extra charge, called an ‘Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)’, in order to use the National Health Service (NHS).

However, services like prescriptions, eye tests and dental treatment will still have to be paid for.

Introduction

You are entitled to free NHS hospital treatment just like an ordinarily resident person in the UK, from the date your visa is granted, so long as you have paid the IHS or you don’t have to pay it because you are exempt.

Also, your visa must allow you to stay in the UK for more than 6 months.

If the Home Office decides to end your visa early then any NHS treatment from then on will become chargeable, even if you have already paid the IHS.

Any non-exempt treatment received before your visa started will also be chargeable.

Any extension of visa applications may lead to another IHS having to be paid. You will not have to pay for the IHS if you apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and it is granted.

By paying the IHS you will not get any preferential treatment from the NHS as the IHS only gives you access to NHS services and you will be treated in the same way as patients who are ordinarily resident in the UK.

Who has to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)?

You will have to pay the IHS if you are applying from OUTSIDE the UK and you:

  • are from a country that is not in the European Economic Area
  • made your application and paid the visa fee on 6 April 2015 or after
  • are applying for a visa for more than 6 months in order to study or work or join your family in the UK (but not to permanently remain in the UK)

You will have to pay the IHS if you are applying from INSIDE the UK and you:

  • are from a country that is not in the European Economic Area
  • made your application and paid the visa fee on 6 April 2015 or after
  • are making an immigration application for any length of time (but not to permanently remain in the UK)

Who does not have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)?

You won’t have to pay if you:

  • are under 18 and have been taken into local authority care; or
  • are a relevant civilian employee at NATO or the Australian Department of Defence in the UK (or their dependant)

You will, however, still have to use the service in order to get a IHS reference number.

The online IHS system will recognise that you are exempt from paying the IHS fee and you will be issued an IHS reference number.

You can access NHS services even if you are exempt from paying the IHS.

Who does not need an IHS reference number?

You will not have to pay the IHS or get an IHS reference number if:

  • you have applied for a visitor visa – instead, you’ll have to pay for any NHS services that you use.
  • you have a family member who is a European national and they have European Union treaty rights
  • you have applied for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) – if you applied for ILR but the UKVI decide to grant you limited leave you will have to pay the immigration health surcharge.
  • you have applied for a visa to the Channel Islands or to the Isle of Man.
  • you have applied for humanitarian protection or you are an asylum seeker (or you’re their dependant)
  • you are resident in the Falkland Islands as a British Overseas Territory citizen
  • you are a dependant of a member of the UK’s armed forces
  • you are the dependant of a member of another country’s armed forces who is exempt from immigration control
  • you are a member of a visiting armed forces or you are a diplomat and you are not subject to immigration control
  • you are a domestic worker and you have been identified as a victim of human trafficking or slavery
  • you have been identified as a victim of slavery or human trafficking and you have applied for discretionary leave to remain in the UK on these grounds (or you’re their dependant)
  • you are subject to the Home Office’s domestic violence concession (or you are their dependant)
  • it would be against your rights under Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights to make you leave the country (or you’re their dependant)

If you are exempt from paying then you can still use the NHS but if you have a visitor visa then you will have to pay for any NHS services that you use.

How much will you have to pay?

From 8 January 2019, the IHS Fee is:

  • £150 – £300 per year as a student (youth mobility)
  • £400 per year for all other visa applications

If, when you apply, there are more than 6 months left in the year then you will have to pay for the whole year.

If there are less than 6 months left in the year you pay half of the yearly amount.

Normally, any dependants will have to pay the same fee that you do. You can calculate how much you will have to pay for the IHS using this handy calculator.

Your application can be delayed if you don’t pay the right IHS fee or even refused if you fail to pay at all.

When do you have to pay?

Before you submit your application or book an appointment at a premium service centre you will have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge for you and any dependants.

If you don’t pay the Immigration Health Surcharge, or you didn’t pay the right amount, then UK Visas and Immigration will contact you to find out why this has not been paid.

Failing to pay the right amount could lead to your visa application being refused. If you are INSIDE the UK, you must pay within 10 working days.

If you are OUTSIDE the UK, you must pay within 7 working days.

How do you make payment?

Paying the immigration health surcharge is relatively straightforward. Here are the steps to follow:

  • First, you must register in order to use the service.
  • Then, you will have to answer the questions. This will determine whether you have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge or if you are exempt from it.
  • Then you will be prompted to make payment providing you are not exempt. Payment will be made in the same currency as your visa application fee.
  • You should receive an email which will have your IHS reference number. The IHS reference number should also come up on the main screen once you have made payment. It’s important that you save this number because you will need to add this reference number to your visa application.  
  • Complete the rest of your visa application and pay the relevant visa fee.

Information you will need when you make payment

You will need the following information:

  • your full name
  • your date of birth
  • your email address
  • your nationality
  • your passport number or your travel document number
  • the visa you are applying for
  • if you are applying from outside the UK, you will need the name of your visa application centre

You must provide all of the above details for:

  • anyone who is applying for a visa with you like a dependant
  • anyone who is already in the UK who you are applying to join or remain with (unless they are a British citizen or EEA citizen). You will also need the expiry date of their leave or IHS reference number.

FAQs

Instead of paying the Immigration Health Surcharge, can I get private health insurance?

No, you will have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge when you make your visa application.
You can take out private healthcare insurance if you wish but the Home Office will not waive the Immigration Health Surcharge just because you have your own private healthcare insurance.

If I don’t use the NHS can the Immigration Health Surcharge be refunded?

No, even if you do not use any NHS services, you will not be refunded the IHS fee.

I have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge but my visa application was refused. What happens now?

Whilst your visa application fee will not be refunded, the IHS fee will be refunded to you.

What is a ‘partial refund’ of the Immigration Health Surcharge?

If you paid for a period which was longer than the leave you were granted then you will automatically get a partial refund of the IHS fee that you paid.