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UK Healthcare for working holiday makers and backpackers

Important information for those without a British passport who plan to work in the UK

Will I be covered by a healthcare program while I am in the UK?

By paying the healthcare surcharge when you applied for your visa, you are entitled to access the free National Health Service (NHS) whilst you are living there. But you are not covered for everything, so it can also be a good ides to get travel insurance for you stay as well though.

What do I have to do to register for Healthcare in the UK?

Firstly, you must register with a GP in your residential area in order to access the health services. To find the local GP in your area you will either spot them as you walk around your neighbourhood or, failing that, look up the number for your local Family Health Services authority. They will ask you your postcode and then tell you the doctors and surgery locations that are open to you.

You will then need to make an appointment with that surgery to officially register. It is wise to do this as soon as possible after you move in; it can take a while to get an appointment to register as often surgeries will have only certain days of the week dedicated to registering new patients. This process will involve filling out numerous forms, providing details of your doctor back home and often, a short medical test.

Every time you move flats, you will need to register with a new doctor or surgery in your new area.

What happens if I haven't registered with a GP?

If you need to see a doctor urgently and are not registered, often you can manage a visit to your local surgery, telling them that you have just moved in and have not registered yet. If you are lucy they may let you in to see a doctor, usually just with a warning that you will need to be registered next time. Otherwise, the UK has "walk-in" medical clinics located throughout - the main difference is that they will charge you. Of course, hospitals have emergency departments and walk-in services for more serious ailments.

Where can I find more information?

WORKgateways makes every attempt to provide up to date and accurate information however should visit the official UK healthcare website as well It can be very helpful as a more detailed view of the UK's health service. It will also have pages and links dedicated to NHS, hospitals and walk-in clinics.

Unfortunately, filling a prescription is not free through NHS and you will need to pay at your local chemist or pharmacy to get the medication.


Unfortunately, filling a prescription is not free through NHS and you will need to pay at your local chemist or pharmacy to have the prescription filled and receive the medication. Worth mentioning is Boots, the high street chemist that seems to be located nearly every 100m. The pharmacists can be very helpful, saving you a lot of time with NHS, for medical enquiries or ailments that do not necessarily require a visit to a GP.

Does that mean I don't need travel insurance?

It is really your choice. Obviously, if you are leaving your home country you should at least have travel insurance to cover the travel portions, flights, baggage, etc of your trip. You will also probably want your travel insurance to include comprehensive medical insurance for part of, or the duration, of your overseas trip. However, if you are planning to travel to the UK via a few destinations and stay and live in the UK for a year or more, you can see that it would be a financial hardship to take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance for the entirety of your UK stay!

Instead, you may want to ensure you are covered by a comprehensive (travel and medical) insurance policy for your 'en-route' travel to the UK. You may want this cover to continue for a few weeks after your arrival, until you can settle in and find a place to live. Once you are in the UK and resident there, register with a GP as soon as possible to be eligible to receive the benefits of the National Health Service in Britain.

If you leave the UK to travel to Europe or anywhere else, even for the weekend, remember that you may not be covered by any insurance and you should therefore consider travel insurance for any trips outside of the UK.

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