Overseas visitors

Overseas Visitors 

We understand that your visit to our hospital may be very stressful for you and we would like to make it as easy as possible when it comes to your understanding of the information that may be required by our staff to establish entitlement to NHS services.

Hospital treatment is free to people classed as ordinarily resident in the UK*. Determining residency isn’t as straight forward as where you were born, payment of UK taxes, National Insurance contributions, being registered with a GP, having an NHS Number, or owning property in the UK. 

To be considered ordinarily resident, you must be living in the UK on a ‘lawful and properly settled basis for the time being’ – you may be asked to prove this.

The Department of Health Overseas Charging Regulations place the responsibility on individuals to prove entitlement to free NHS treatment. We would ask for your co-operation in providing the evidence requested, to avoid your liability for the cost of any treatment provided to you now or in the future.

Visitors from the EEA and Switzerland

If you are a visitor from the EEA, you will need to present a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or other healthcare documents (such as S2 or S1 forms) or you may be charged for your care.

If you don’t have a EHIC card you can apply for one from the country where you normally live through www.ehic.europa.eu and selecting your national flag.

It’s also possible to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) if you don’t have your EHIC, this is an emergency document and will provide the same level of cover as the EHIC and is normally dated for the period of your visit to the country.  Please contact your national healthcare provider to request this document.

Visitors from the Rest of the World

If you are visiting England from a non-EEA country, you need to ensure you are covered for healthcare through personal medical insurance for the duration of your visit, even if you are a former UK resident. This is a requirement of your entry conditions to the country.

If you are coming for more than six months, you may need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge as part of your visa application.  This means you will be receive treatment on the same basis as an ordinary resident of the country.

If you’re visiting England from a non-EEA country, even if you’re a former UK resident, you’ll be charged for NHS secondary care at 150% of the standard NHS rate, unless an exemption from the charge category applies to either you or the treatment.


If you are a student you will require an EHIC card (EEA students only), a copy of your Passport and Visa, Biometric Residents Permit (BRP), or proof of travel insurance to cover your whole stay in the UK.  We will also require a letter from the UK school, college or university you are studying at confirming that you are on a course there, and whether it is a full or part-time course, how long it’s for and also confirmation of your attendance rate. 

Chargeable Patients

If we are unable to ascertain your entitlement to free NHS treatment, or find that you are a chargeable patient, you will be asked to make payment for your treatment costs.  This payment will be based on your initial clinical diagnosis and we will try to provide you with an idea of the cost in advance, please be aware that this can vary as the treatment progresses. 

Immediately necessary or urgent services, including maternity services – Clinically assessed immediate, urgent and maternity care will not be withheld on the basis of ability to pay even though you remain liable for the treatment cost. If you’re insured please see below.

Non-urgent or elective treatment – We are required by law to withhold treatment from chargeable  overseas visitors until the estimated full cost of the service has been paid.  This decision will be based on clinical opinion.

Insured Patients – Should your medical expenses be covered by travel or health insurance you may not need to pay at the time of your treatment but we will need to assess this based on the information available to us at the time of your attendance and after consultation with your insurance company.

Whilst we will provide you with an estimation of your treatment costs, we will assess the actual once you are discharged from our care and issue a final invoice as soon as possible after this. Please note that this may differ from the estimate provided as this will depend on your diagnosis and your treatment pathway.  Any overpayment will be refunded once the final invoice has been issued.

Non -Payment – We would ask that you settle your invoice as soon as possible after receiving it. If you have any financial difficulties please let us know so we can work with you to explore payment options; Unpaid invoices outstanding for 2 months may be referred to debt collection and in some circumstances if the debt is over £500 referred to the UK Border Agency; this may affect future applications to enter or remain in the UK.

Reciprocal Healthcare Agreements

The UK has reciprocal healthcare agreements with some non-European Economic Area (EEA) countries.

Within the reciprocal agreements there are a number of variations in the level of free treatment provided to visitors travelling to the UK. Generally, only immediate medical treatment* is to be provided free of charge, to allow the overseas visitor to return home for other needs i.e. follow up treatment or outpatient appointments.

Please ensure you check with the Overseas Visitors Team to ensure your financial responsibilities are clear and DO NOT ASSUME all your treatment will be covered. 

If you’re being treated under a reciprocal agreement and it is terminated during the course of your treatment then you will become liable for all further costs.

*Immediate treatment is defined as to save the patient’s life/prevent a condition from becoming immediately life-threatening or needed promptly to prevent permanent serious damage occurring

For more information on this please visit http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/AboutNHSservices/uk-visitors/Pages/accessing-nhs-services.aspx

If you have any questions please contact our Overseas Visitors Team who will be happy to help at WSHNT.OverSeasChi@nhs.net


Overseas Visitors Team

The  Downlands Suite

Worthing Hospital

Lyndhurst Road


West Sussex BN11 2DH

Tel: 01903 286731

Fax: 01903 285287


Overseas Visitors Team

The Chichester Suite

St Richard’s Hospital

Spitalfield Lane


West Sussex PO19 6SE

Tel: 01243 788122ext 35288

Fax: 01243 831547


* The National Health Service Act 2006 and the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 2017 set which visitors are required to pay for NHS treatment.

For more information on this please visit http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/AboutNHSservices/uk-visitors/Pages/accessing-nhs-services.asp


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