How do I receive healthcare in the UK as an international student?

Adjusting to life abroad can be a challenging undertaking, there are many things you need to consider prior to your arrival. One of the most complimented, yet vital, aspects is your healthcare. Different countries have distinctly diverse systems in place for organizing doctors’ visits, prescriptions, dental, eye care and mental health support.

Here is everything you must know about receiving healthcare in the UK as an international student.

Medical attention at doctors’ offices and hospitals

As part of your visa application, you would have paid all the necessary fees to receive medical attention in the UK prior to entry. Other than this, medical attention is free and completely covered by the NHS. This includes ambulances and emergency care or ongoing treatment.

If you are coming from a country that does not require a VISA application for study in the UK, you will not be expected to pay a fee for medical care.

It is recommended that you register with a general practitioner (GP) in the UK for non-emergency care and checkups. Though your GP you can be directed to other services when applicable, including mental health practitioners and pharmacists.

For the most up to date information, please refer to the UKCISA website.

Medications and Prescriptions

If you are required to take medication regularly, then you will have to consult your doctor in the UK to have your prescription fulfilled. This may involve switching to a similar medication of a different brand.

Charges for prescriptions vary based on location in the country. If you are studying in England the standard fee for each item in your prescription is £9.35. However, for those on many unique medications at the same time, there is a prepayment option. The Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC) allows you to pay a flat fee for all your prescriptions.

The current prices for the PPC are: • £30.25 for 3 months • £108.10 for 12 months

Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland do not have a prescription change and you are automatically entitled to free prescriptions.


Most opticians in the UK operate in a private capacity, meaning you will have to pay for eye tests and prescription lenses.

However, if you are 16, 17 or 18 and in full time education. You are entitled to free eye tests and a voucher providing a discount for your lenses. If you do not meet these criteria, for example if you are a student over the age of 18, you will have to pay for testing and your glasses.

There are many providers in the UK that vary in price, a routine eye exam at a franchise opticians can cost as little as £25. With many providers offering discounts for students. Let your optician know you are a student, so you don’t miss out on any deals!

OCT scans or an Optical Coherence Tomography, the exam for assessing the general health of your eyes, can cost roughly £10.

Dental and Orthodontics

Unfortunately, International students are not entitled to free NHS dentistry. What this means is, you will have to go to a private dentist for all dental treatments and checkups. However, there are many reasonably priced private dental practices in the UK. With routine checkups costing as little as £35-£50.

The numerous other treatments vary. Providers are usually very upfront about costs – with financing options also being available.

Orthodontics and braces are only available on the NHS for people under the age of 18 or in some cases for specific medical reasons, approved on a case-by-case basis. Adult braces at private practices cost between £1500 to £2500, but some providers exceed this reference.

We recommend that you shop around to find a dentist or orthodontist that best serves your needs at your price point.

Mental health

Mental health is as much an area of health as anything else on this list. There are many options for receiving mental health treatment.

If you are having any difficulties with your mental health then you can talk to your GP, or a mental health practitioner through your GP.

International students are disproportionately affected by depression and anxiety, as compared to home students. Due to many factors, among the biggest being feelings of loneliness and home sickness. It is important to remember that you are not alone and there are many people that are willing to listen. On top of this, most UK universities offer a range of health and advice services for those experiencing difficulties with their mental health, ranging from counseling to help lines. Enquire with your university if you feel your mental wellbeing may be at risk.

Samaritans are a UK charity ‘’offering emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide throughout Great Britain and Ireland’’.

They operate a helpline running 24/7 and are willing to chat about anything that is bothering you. Completely free of charge.

Their telephone number is: 116 123. For more information please see:

Considering applying to a UK university, get in touch with our friendly little team to get expert advice!

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