Accessing health services

The national health service (NHS) provides free hospital treatment for people who live lawfully in the United Kingdom only.

If you do not normally live in this country or you cannot confirm you are a lawful settled UK resident and you do not meet one of the exemptions from charges criteria, you will have to pay for any treatment you need.

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


Covid-19 testing requirements

If you are coming in for surgery at City Road, or any of our other sites north of the river Thames (except Bedford), you will need to complete a lateral flow test 24 hours before your appointment. These are available from or by ringing 119 if you are in the UK, or you can use one sourced overseas. After taking your test, you will need to register your results on, or ring 119 if you are in the UK and they can do this for you. You will need to bring in a copy of the email or text message they send you, a photo of the test or the test itself as evidence of your test.

If your surgery is at Bedford or is south of the river Thames (e.g. Croydon, St George's), please refer to the details in your letter or ring the number in your letter, as these sites have different arrangements for testing.

International patients should take a lateral flow test in the 24 hours before their procedure, and should bring the results of the test with them.

There is no longer any requirement to isolate before surgery, and there is no requirement for testing prior to outpatient appointments


Current regulations guide

The Government website provides information on the current regulations. The information available on the link below is a general guide and does not provide a full summary of the current regulations.

Guidance on overseas visitors hospital charging regulations


Accessing health services

There are a number of ways for overseas visitors to access health services in the United Kingdom.

Please read the following page on the Government's website for more about the rules and exemptions, and whether you need to pay for NHS treatment. Information for those visiting or moving to England


EU and EEA (European Economic Area) visitors

European visitors must show their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) otherwise they may have to pay for NHS treatment.

The UK can claim reimbursement for the cost of providing healthcare to visitors from other European Economic Area (EEA) states or Switzerland under the EU Regulations. This entitlement under the EU Regulations will normally be established by production of the relevant EEA healthcare document (EHIC, PRC, S2 or S1), which confirms that the holder is covered for their health costs by the country of issue.


Non EEA patients

You may be asked to confirm you have Indefinite Leave to Remain as your residence permit to live in the UK or have another kind of settled visa (more than six months in length) and have paid the health surcharge to the Home Office. Find out more on the website.

If you are in the UK with a visit visa, while you are here lawfully, you will not be considered a settled UK resident and will be required to pay.


Resident in a non-EEA country that has a bilateral health agreement with the UK

If you are usually resident in: Anguilla, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, British Virgin Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Jersey, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Montserrat, New Zealand, Serbia, St Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands, then you may not have to pay for all of your care. We will ask you to confirm residence in the overseas country or that you are a national of the country – the overseas visitor manager will advise what evidence you need to provide and what care is covered.


Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if I need to attend the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department?

You will not be charged for treatment that you receive in the A&E department. However, this does not include emergency treatment given in any other department in the hospital, which will include;

  • if you are operated upon
  • if you are admitted to an inpatient ward
  • if you are allocated an outpatient appointment.


How can I prove that I am entitled to free hospital treatment?

For you to receive free hospital treatment, you will need to provide evidence that you are legally living within the UK.

All patients treated at this hospital, whatever their nationality and living status, are required to provide correct information when registering their details.

If you are living in the UK on a lawful settled basis then you should be prepared to provide evidence.


How will I know if I have to pay?

The overseas visitors manager can provide you with more detailed information if you are unsure whether you are entitled to free hospital treatment. You will be asked to provide evidence of entitlement – they will advise you of what documents are acceptable.


If I am not eligible for free treatment, what will I have to pay for?

You will be charged for any treatment given to you by any member of staff in any of our services, both in the hospital or in the community.

Exceptions may apply under certain circumstances, but we will discuss this with you if it applies to you.

If you are confirmed by the clinical team as seeking routine and planned NHS hospital care, you will be expected to pay in advance to the full estimate of care before you have the care. If you cannot pay for routine and planned care in advance, we will not be able to give you the care and will return your case to your GP or the referring clinician.


Contact us for further information

To prove your entitlement, contact our overseas visitors officer. Our officer is available Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm and can be contacted as follows:

  • Telephone: +44 (0)20 253 3411 extension 6724. Please leave a voice message if no one is available to take your call.
  • Email:
  • Post: Overseas visitors officer, finance department, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Kemp House, 152-160 City Road, London EC1V 2NX


Treatment for overseas visitors is available at Moorfields Private

Moorfields Private welcomes patients from all over the world for expert eye care.

View Moorfields Private services for international patients