If you need to apply for a visa to study in the UK, you may need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of the visa application. You usually need to pay the IHS if you’re applying for a visa or immigration application:

  • for more than 6 months, if you’re applying outside the UK
  • for any length of time, if you’re applying inside the UK

You do not need to pay if you’re applying for a Standard Visitor visa but you're advised to take out private medical insurance as you will be liable to pay National Health Service (NHS) charges for the treatment you receive in the UK except for medical emergency treatment.

Find out more about applying for a Student visa and the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Registering with a General Practitioner (GP)

GP surgeries are usually the first contact if you have a health problem. They can treat many conditions and give health advice. They can also refer you to other NHS services. It is important to register with a GP as soon as you arrive in London so you can easily make an appointment when you are unwell. This is especially important if you have a pre-existing health condition.

Normally, you register with a GP near where you live but you can register with a GP that is close to where you work or study. 


If you need to see a dentist, search for one on Ask to be registered as an NHS patient unless you prefer to pay for private treatment.


If you need to see an optician, search for one on You will have to pay a minimum charge for an eye test on the NHS. If the test shows you need glasses, the optician will give you a prescription.

The cost of frames and lenses varies considerably, so check with various opticians before buying. 

Prescriptions and medicine

You have to pay some of the cost towards prescription charges, dental care and optical services but you may be eligible for help towards this under the NHS Low Income scheme. If you need to take regular medication, it may save money to get an NHS Prescription Prepayment Certificate.

Urgent medical care

If you experience or witness a medical emergency requiring an ambulance, dial 999 immediately. Paramedics will give any appropriate on-the-spot treatment then proceed to the closest National Health Service (NHS) hospital if necessary.

NHS 111 is a free number to call when you have an urgent healthcare need that isn’t a life-threatening situation. You may need medical advice when your GP or the pharmacy is closed for example. Following a short assessment NHS 111 will direct you to the right service, at the right time and as close to your home as possible.

NHS Walk-in centre

Walk-in centres can be used when the health problem isn’t an emergency and in situations where your GP is closed, unavailable or you haven't registered with a GP. No appointment is needed but there may be a long wait to be seen.

Student Counselling

The Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Service offers help and support with personal, emotional or work-related problems.