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The National Health Service

If you are a student attending a course that is longer than 6 months, you and your family, including any children under the age of 16 (or 19 if they are in full time education), are able to use the NHS (National Health Service), which is free of charge .

In order to use this service, you will need to prove your residential status by producing a visa showing that you are allowed to live in Britain. If you do not have the right to live in Britain, you are then responsible for your own medical costs. This is also the case if you are in the process of applying to the Home Office for permission to settle as a student for longer than 6 months. If you are a student doing a course for less than 6 months, you would be advised to have personal medical insurance.

Most universities have health care centres on campus that deal with all issues of physical and mental health that may concern students.

Free primary health care

If you qualify for free NHS treatment, you also qualify for free Primary Health Care.

You are advised to register with an NHS doctor (or GP, General Practitioner) in your area as soon as you are able. A GP's surgery can decline to register you if you live outside of the area for that practice. You can contact your local Primary Care Trust for any more information on this.

To register with a GP, you will need to produce the following:

•  Your name and address

•  Your date of birth

•  Your NHS number (if you have one)

•  Details of your previous doctor

Your medical records will be sent to the GP surgery and you will be notified by post that this has happened.

Medical checks

You will be invited to have a routine health check within 6 months. The check will normally be carried out by a nurse, who will ask you about your general family health history, take your blood pressure and possibly arrange other routine screening.

Your NHS medical card

When you have registered with a GP, you will be sent a membership card with a unique number on it. This card is used to track your medical records and to trace patients as they move across different parts of the country.

For the nearest registered NHS doctor, see

Vaccinations and immunisations

You may consider being immunised against meningitis on arrival in the United Kingdom. If you require any information regarding any vaccinations that you may need, please refer to or

Dental care

Dental care is available through the NHS. You can register with an NHS dentist and pay a certain proportion of the cost of the treatment.

Opticians / optometrists

If you need glasses or contact lenses, it is advisable to shop around in the town or city where you live, as there are very competitive offers.


From 1 st July 2007, smoking in enclosed public places has been banned. This includes pubs, restaurants, public transport and all places of work.

Individuals contravening this law can face on-the-spot fines of £50, which can rise to £1,000, should the issue be brought to court. Employers/managers of the premises can also face a fine of £200, and this figure can rise to as much as £2,500, if not paid within the correct timeframe.

Drinking tap water

Tap water is safe to drink in the UK. Mineral water is widely available but is expensive. Many people purchase water filters for home use: these are available in supermarkets.

This information is supplied by UK Work Study specialists in helping international students come to the UK.

Contact for more details on our UK Study Pack.


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