What you need to know about the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

by | Feb 23, 2023 | Articles, Moving, Moving Guides

If you’re moving to the UK, you may be asked to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). The charge has been in place since 2015, and grants access to NHS healthcare.

Whether you’ll be required to pay depends on the immigration status you’re applying for.

Who has to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge?

You’re required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge if:

  • You’re outside the UK, and are making an immigration or visa application for more than six months

  • You’re inside the UK, making an immigration or visa application of any length

You are still obliged to pay the Immigration Health Service if you have private health or medical insurance

You will need to register for an IHS number, but will not have to pay if:

  • You’re a child under 18 in the care of your local authority

  • You are a UK-based civilian employee of NATO or the Australian Department of Defence, or their dependant


Who is exempt from the IHS?

You are exempt from the IHS if:

  • You’re applying for a visitor visa

  • You’re applying to remain in the UK permanently

  • You’re a health or care worker who is eligible for a Health and Care Worker visa, or their dependant

  • You’re applying to the EU settlement scheme

  • You’re a diplomat

  • You’re a dependant of a member of the UK armed forces

  • You’re a member of another nation’s armed forces and are exempt from immigration control, or their dependant

  • You’re applying for a visa to the Isle of Man of the Channel Islands

  • You’re applying for asylum or humanitarian protection

  • You’re a domestic worker who has been identified as a victim of slavery or human trafficking

  • You’re applying for discretionary leave to remain in the UK as a victim of slavery or human trafficking or their dependant

  • The Domestic Violence Concession applies to you, or you’re the dependant of a recipient

  • You’re eligible for a Frontier Worker permit and have an S1 certificate

  • You’re an S2 Healthcare Visitor

  • Your circumstances mean being made to leave the UK would be against your rights under Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights, or you’re their dependant

Read the full details of who is exempt from the IHS here.

You may also be able to apply for a refund for your IHS payment if your healthcare is paid for by an EU country or Switzerland and you have an S1 certificate are a full-time student, or if you are a healthcare worker. You can read more about receiving a refund here.


How much is the Immigration Health Surcharge?

The amount you will have to pay depends on the length and type of visa you are applying for and your age.

The Immigrant Health Surcharge is:

  • £470 per year for visa and immigration applicants who are under the age of 18 at the time of application

  • £470 per year for a student or youth mobility scheme visa

  • £624 per year for all other visa and immigration applications

You are required to pay half the annual amount for any partial years less than six months, and the full annual amount for any partial years over six months.

For example, the IHS payment for a five-year standard visa would be £3,120. You’ll automatically be refunded in part if you paid the healthcare surcharge for more years than you were granted leave to remain.


When should I pay the IHS?

If you complete your immigration application online you’ll be asked to pay as part of the process, either as part of the application or when you book an appointment.

Those who apply by post will need to pay the surcharge before they send their application, and include their IHS reference number on the application form.

You can begin using NHS services as soon as your application is approved and you have either paid the Immigrant Health Surcharge or are exempt.

If you don’t pay the IHS, or pay too little, you’ll be contacted by UK Visas and Immigration by email to pay the balance. You have 10 working days to do so if you’re inside the UK, or 7 working days if you’re outside the UK. If you haven’t paid the full amount after this period then your immigration application will be declined.

Read more about moving to the UK:

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