Healthcare for overseas workers

If you are coming to Scotland to work, and you live in Scotland legally, you can get health care from the NHS while you are here.

You may also get health care from the NHS if you:

  • work on a ship registered in the UK 
  • work offshore in UK territory
  • have come to Scotland to work as an unpaid volunteer providing services within or similar to health or social services.

Registering for health care

In order to receive care, you will need to register with a GP as soon as you arrive in Scotland.

Find out how to register with a GP

If you need an interpreter, ask the GP surgery to arrange this for you. When you make an appointment, tell them what language you prefer to use.

Accessing health care

If you are from the European Economic Area (EEA) (except Bulgaria and Romania) or Switzerland and you need care, you may be asked to show your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

If you are from Bulgaria and Romania and not from the EEA or Switzerland and you need care, you may be asked to show:

  • your workers permit
  • a recent letter from your employer, work contract or current pay slip if you are employed
  • invoices or work receipts if you are self-employed
  • a letter from the organisation you work for that says what type of voluntary work you do.

The United Kingdom has special health care arrangements with some countries outside the EEA. The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) provides details of who is entitled to healthcare through reciprocal agreements

Healthcare Costs

Health care for overseas workers and their families is free for the most part. There are, however, some treatments that may incur a cost.

The Citizens Advice Bureau provides advice regarding NHS charges for people from abroad

The Scottish Government provide information about health costs and entitlemernt in the following publications:

Families of overseas workers

If you are registered as an NHS patient your partner and children might also qualify for health care. If you have children they must be aged under 16, or under 19 and in full-time education.

Staff at the GP surgery will ask you to fill in a form to register your family. You may need to show your marriage or civil partnership certificate, and birth certificates for your children to complete the registration process.

Family from the EEA or Switzerland

If you have other members of family from the EEA or Switzerland they can also get health care from the NHS.
To do so they must have an EHIC and register with a GP.

Family not from the EEA or Switzerland

If you have other members of family not from the EEA or Switzerland they may be entitled to health care if they have been allowed to join you in Scotland.

To do so, an EEA family permit is issued overseas to nationals of countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who are family members of EEA nationals.

The UK Border Agency has more information on the EEA family permit

Emergency care

If you or a member of your family are unwell and your GP surgery and pharmacist are closed. You should phone NHS 24 on 111.

NHS 24 provide an interpreting service if english is not your first or preferred language.

More information

The Scottish Government provide more information for overseas visitors regarding the health service.

You can find more information about health care for migrant workers in the leaflet - Health care for people coming to Scotland to work


Last updated: 19 May 2015
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