Who Can Apply for NHS?

Who Can Apply for NHS?

Anitha Updated on - Sep 06, 2023
Who Can Apply for NHS? NHS Exam Guide

The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom provides healthcare services to residents of the UK, and eligibility for NHS services is generally based on residency and immigration status. Here are some key points on who can apply for NHS services:

Enquiry Now
  • one dealing with strategy, policy and management, and
  • the other with actual medical/clinical care which is in turn divided into-primary (community care, GPs, Dentists, Pharmacists, etc.),
    • secondary (hospital-based care accessed through GP referral) and
    • tertiary care (specialist hospitals).

Increasingly distinctions between the two broad sections are becoming less clear.

Eligibility and Application Process for the NHS in the UK

The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom is designed to provide accessible healthcare services to all residents. Eligibility for NHS services is based on certain criteria, ensuring that individuals can receive necessary medical care without financial barriers. If you're wondering who can apply for the NHS, here's a breakdown of the eligibility criteria and the application process:

Eligibility Criteria

  • Residency: The primary criterion for NHS eligibility is residency in the UK. This includes individuals who are living in England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland on a permanent basis. Generally, people who are legally allowed to reside in the UK can access NHS services.
  • Visa Holders: Some visa holders, such as those with a visa to study or work in the UK, may be eligible for NHS services. The eligibility period often corresponds to the duration of the visa.
  • Asylum Seekers and Refugees: Asylum seekers and refugees are entitled to NHS services regardless of their immigration status. This ensures that individuals in vulnerable situations have access to healthcare.
  • European Union (EU) Citizens: EU citizens can usually access NHS services if they are living in the UK. However, the eligibility rules have evolved following the UK's exit from the EU, and it's important to check the latest guidance.
  • Reciprocal Healthcare Agreements: Some countries have reciprocal healthcare agreements with the UK. This means that citizens of these countries can access NHS services while visiting the UK. The specific terms of these agreements vary.

Application Process

  • GP Registration: To access most NHS services, individuals need to register with a general practitioner (GP) or a doctor's surgery. This involves providing some personal information and proof of eligibility, such as proof of address and immigration status.
  • NHS Number: Once registered with a GP, individuals are assigned an NHS number. This unique identifier is used to access NHS services and maintain a medical record.
  • Verification of Eligibility: Depending on your circumstances, you may need to provide additional documentation to verify your eligibility for NHS services. This could include documents related to your residency status, visa, or asylum seeker/refugee status.
  • Exemption from Charges: Some NHS services are free of charge, while others may involve fees. Eligible individuals may be exempt from charges based on their circumstances, such as being under 18, being pregnant, or having certain medical conditions.
  • Change of Circumstances: It's important to inform the NHS of any changes in your circumstances that might affect your eligibility, such as changes in immigration status.

Emergency and Immediate Care

It's important to note that emergency and immediate healthcare services are provided regardless of an individual's eligibility status. If someone requires urgent medical attention, they will receive treatment regardless of their eligibility for NHS services.


The NHS in the UK is committed to ensuring that healthcare services are accessible to all residents. Eligibility is primarily based on residency, immigration status, and certain exceptions. By following the application process and providing the necessary documentation, eligible individuals can access the comprehensive healthcare services offered by the NHS, promoting the well-being of the entire population.

Get in touch
Need any help
Chat with us
Start a Conversation
Hi! Click one of our member below to chat on WhatsApp