Overseas patients at Croydon Health Services

The National Health Service (NHS) provides free hospital treatment for people who are classed as ordinarily resident in the UK.

The NHS provides free hospital treatment to people who live in the UK permanently.  However, if you are not ordinarily resident in the UK nd you do not meet one of the exemptions from charges criteria  you may have to pay for your hospital treatment.

This is regardless of your nationality; whether you hold a British passport; have lived in and paid National Insurance and taxes in the UK in the past; or have been issued with an HC2 certificate.

The Trust is required by law to establish whether all its patients and service users are entitled to free NHS treatment, so we will ask everyone in which country their passport is registered and for their usual permanent home address.

Asking these questions and establishing who is entitled to free NHS care is something we are obliged to do by law, so please don’t be offended. We might also need to ask for proof of residency such as a passport or utility bill. If you are asked to provide these, please bring originals where possible.

Emergency treatment is always provided free and we will never withhold it if you need urgent care, however if you are admitted as an inpatient and are not ordinarily resident in the UK, you might need to pay for your ongoing care. We will discuss this with you, so you are aware of any likely costs.

It is your responsibility to prove that you are entitled to free NHS treatment. If you do not provide satisfactory evidence to support your claim, you will be liable for the cost of any treatment received.

Qualifying for free NHS healthcare

EEA visitors

If you are a visitor from the EEA this includes Switzerland, you will need to have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), or other documents such as a S1 or S2.

Non-EEA visitors

For visitors coming for less than six months, you must ensure that you have travel insurance to cover for healthcare.

For those visitors coming for six months or more, you must have paid the immigration health surcharge, and have a valid visa in place. This will enable you to access free NHS healthcare as an ordinary resident of the UK.


EEA students will need to provide an EHIC card together with a copy of your passport and visa or biometric residents permit.  We would also require proof from your UK school, college or university of course attendance.

Reciprocal agreements 

The UK has reciprocal agreements with a number of non-EEA countries. These agreements will allow access to some free NHS treatment.  This will be dependent on the country that the reciprocal agreement is with.

See more information about reciprocal agreements here 

Not eligible for free healthcare

Any individual who is not lawfully in the UK will not be eliglble for free healthcare.

Also below are answers to some commonly asked question and links to further information which you may find helpful.

For further information please contact our Overseas Visitors Team on:

Overseas Visitors Department

Croydon Health Services

Croydon University Hospital

2nd floor, Nightingale House

530 London Road


Tel:  0208 401 3554 / 3569

Email:  ch-tr.osvdocuments@nhs.net

Payments can be made direct to the overseas visitors department by phone, with either a debit or credit card on the above contact telephone numbers.  For further methods of payment please contact the Overseas Visitors Department.  

Overseas patients - questions and answers

Below are answers to some commonly asked question and links to further information which you may find helpful.

Are you only asking some groups of patients?

No, we are asking all patients to provide us with information about their nationality and usual permanent address so that we can meet our statutory obligations to establish whether people are entitled to free NHS care.

If I am asked to provide proof of my nationality or address, which documents are acceptable?

Proof of identity

Please provide one valid document from the list below:

•             current signed passport

•             residence permit issued by the Home Office 

•             EU or Swiss national identity photo-card

•             valid UK photo-card driving licence

•             valid armed or police forces photographic identity card

•             photographic disabled blue badge

•             citizen card.

Please note, it is best to bring proof of your right to reside in the UK (for example a UK or EEA passport, EEA national ID photo card, Visa or residence permit issued by the Home Office, Biometric Residence Card or Permit, Asylum Registration Card or valid UK armed or police forces photo ID). This will help us to determine your eligibility quicker and avoid delays to your treatment.

Proof of address

Please provide one document from the list below:

•             recent original utility bill (gas, electric, water, telephone) (mobile not acceptable)

•             council tax bill (valid for current year)

•             bank, building society or credit union statement or passbook

•             recent original mortgage statement from recognised lender

•             current council/housing association rent book or tenancy agreement

•             notification letter from Department for Work and Pensions or HM Revenue and Customs confirming your right to benefit or state pension.

What if I am just visiting the UK? Can I get treatment?

There are various circumstances where you might still be entitled to free healthcare.

  • If you are visiting the UK and you normally live in a country with a reciprocal healthcare agreement with the UK, you might be entitled to free healthcare if you become unwell during your visit.
  • If you are visiting the UK and you normally live in a country that is a member of the European Economic Area healthcare arrangement you will be entitled to free healthcare if you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This card covers emergency treatment only (not pre-planned). You need to bring this card with you to hospital – it must be in your name and within the expiry date.
  • You are a refugee or an asylum seeker whose formal application to the Home Office is being considered. A refugee is someone who has been granted asylum in this country. If you are a refugee or an asylum seeker, you will still have to pay for all prescribed medications.
  • You may be entitled to free healthcare if you have come to study or take up employment in the UK. You need to show evidence, such as a payslip, that you are working for a UK-based employer. Your ‘right to work’ does not count as evidence in this case. If you are studying full-time you need to show evidence that you are attending a full-time course lasting at least six months.