The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)
EU and EEA citizens have been subject to the UK’s new immigration system from 1 January 2021. Those nationals subject to immigration control who apply to come to the UK to work, study or join family for a time limited period of more than six months’ will pay the Immigration Health Surcharge as part of their visa application, subject to certain exemptions.
This is also paid by nationals who are already in the UK and apply to extend their stay. The IHS is paid in full and upfront at the point of visa application. Currently (2021), the surcharge costs £624 per adult per year, with a discounted rate of £470 per year for students, their dependants, applicants under 18 years of age and those on a youth mobility scheme.
People are eligible for reimbursement if they have a UK visa that started on or after 1 January 2021 and have an EU-issued S1 document registered with the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA). They will be reimbursed an amount proportional to the validity period of their S1 document. Applications for reimbursement for S1 holders opened on 1 January 2021.
To apply, S1 holders must contact the NHSBSA:
Overseas Healthcare Services
NHS Business Services Authority
152 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
Phone: 0191 218 1999, or +44 191 218 1999 from outside the UK
EU students studying in the UK will be eligible for reimbursement if they:
- have a UK visa that started on or after 1 January 2021
- are in full time higher education
- hold a valid EU issued European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and
- are not working in the UK
A student is considered to be working in the UK if they are in paid employment or self-employment regardless of income or duration. They are not considered to be working if they are engaged in unpaid voluntary activity.
Family members of students who meet the above criteria can also apply for reimbursement. They will also need to meet the eligibility criteria of being in the UK on a visa with a start date on or after 1 January 2021, holding a valid EHIC and not working or intending to work in the UK.
The scheme is open to individuals on all visa types, so long as they meet the above eligibility requirements. Whilst the UK expects the majority of applicants to be Student visa holders, this could include an individual who has moved to the UK as a dependant of another visa holder, who then takes up a course of full-time study. To ensure that these individuals would still be considered eligible for a valid EHIC by their Member State, the UK proposes to ask individuals on a non-Student visa to provide evidence that they have received assurance from their Member State health authority that their EHIC remains valid.
Applications for reimbursement for students will be accepted from 1 January 2022. Reimbursement will be backdated to include any IHS payments made for a visa covering the period starting 1 January 2021. Students will be reimbursed an amount proportional to the validity period of their EHIC. In order to be eligible for a full refund, students should ensure that they hold a valid EHIC for the duration of their stay.
It is important that students apply for their reimbursement as soon as possible after arriving in the UK so that their eligibility can be accurately assessed and be provided with important information about how to seek medical treatment. Whilst the scheme beds in the UK plans to take a generous approach to this, which may be reviewed in subsequent years.
Students arriving between 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2021 will have until 31 December 2022 to apply for their reimbursement. Students arriving from 1 January 2022 will have a year to apply from the start date of their visa. If this period is reduced in the future, the UK will inform Member States and issue communications to students through UK Higher Education institutions.
Information on how to apply will be published later this year on GOV.UK and will be shared with Member States and UK Higher Education institutions.
Students should be aware that, if they receive a reimbursement under this route the UK reserves the right to charge them for any healthcare received that is not covered by their EHIC. As this could be expensive students may wish to consider if their healthcare arrangements are sufficient and appropriate for their needs.