The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) provides healthcare services that are free (with the exceptions of some services such as some prescription medications, optical services and dental services) at the point of use for all UK residents.

If you are a student visa holder (studying at Ulster for 6 months or more), you will be asked when applying for your visa to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.

You will then be able to use the NHS but you will still need to pay for some services, such as dental treatment or eye care tests.

You may need to bring your Biometric Residence Permit with you when you access healthcare in the UK.

If you are coming to Ulster from the European Economic Area (EEA) you can find more information on accessing healthcare.

It is recommended that you register with a GP and Dentist within the first few weeks of your arrival to the UK, there is no cost to do this.  If you need to see a GP or Dentist urgently you must be already registered with one.  If you are not registered you will find it very difficult to get the treatment you need quickly.  Please make this a priority during International Orientation week or as soon as your have collected your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).

Healthcare in the UK for students from outside the EEA/EU/Switzerland

If you are coming to Ulster from a country outside the EEA/EU/Switzerland and will be studying for a period of 6 months or less you will be expected to pay for some NHS treatments, including doctor appointments, prescriptions, minor procedures, dental and optical services and follow-up treatment after using Accident and Emergency (A&E) services.

We strongly advise that all students purchase their own medical insurance before they travel, for the duration for their stay.

Medical Immunisation

Before leaving home, you must check with your doctor if you require any vaccinations.

Depending on the country you are travelling from the following vaccinations may be required:

If you are not immunised against the above diseases, please speak to your doctor and arrange to receive any necessary vaccinations before arriving in the UK. You can find more information on medical checks and vaccinations here.

You must bring documentary evidence with English translation to present to an immigration officer on arrival in the UK.

If you are bringing any prescribed medication with you to the UK, carry a letter from your doctor in your hand luggage explaining what the medication is.  Please ensure that the letter is translated into English.

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions you may find it useful to contact Student Wellbeing staff on your campus who can offer professional, free and confidential advice on a range of issues.

Registering with a GP (General Practitioner)

Doctors in Northern Ireland normally accept onto their lists of NHS patients, students on courses of at least six months’ duration.

To register, you will need to visit the doctor’s surgery during consulting hours, taking a letter with you from your institution as proof that you are a student, confirmation of your address and your passport and BRP.

Students who are studying for a period of less than six months will still be seen by local GP services – Student Wellbeing Services staff or your International Student Experience team member on your campus will be able to advise you on how to contact local medical services.

Healthcare for family members

As long as your course lasts six months or more, your wife/husband and children under 16 (under 19 if still in school or college) can get free healthcare through the NHS.

When you arrive at Ulster you will be encouraged to register with a local doctor, when your family arrives, you should register each member with the same doctor’s practice.

If your course at Ulster lasts less than six months then you should take out medical insurance for the duration of your stay in the UK.

Opticians and dentists will generally charge for treatment. However, children under the age of 16, or under 19 if in full-time education, are eligible for free dental treatment.  Women who are pregnant or have had a baby within the last 12 months are also eligible.

Before leaving home you must check with your doctor if you require any vaccinations.

Depending on the country you are travelling from the following vaccinations may be required:

If you are not immunised against the above diseases, please speak to your doctor and arrange to receive any necessary vaccinations before arriving in the UK.

Dental and Optical Care

To register with a dentist you must first register with a GP.  Generally, dental treatment is not covered by your Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) however, as your IHS entitles you to NHS treatment you may be eligible for reduced rates if the dentist you wish to register with accepts new NHS patients.   If the dentist you have selected does not accept new NHS patients, you may be required to register as a private patient and pay for the full cost of your treatment.  You will be required to attend the practice in order to register and  must be able to provide your HSC number.  You can find more information including a list of all licensed dentists on the Health and Social Care (HSC) website.

Eye Care is provided by register opticians who typically operate from High Street Shops.  There are nationwide providers such as Vision Express and Specsavers which you will find in most UK towns are are competitively priced.   You will normally have to pay a minimum charge for an eye test and there may be different types of tests available. Costs start at around £25.  Many Eye Care providers offer student discounts on their frames, lenses and/or contact lenses, so you should shop around.