From 6 April, anyone on a South African passport going to live in the UK for longer than six months will need to pay a ‘health surcharge’ in order to gain access to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).
The new ruling – announced this month by the British Home Office – will affect all temporary, non-European Economica Area (EEA) migrants who move to the UK for more than six months. (Australians and New Zealanders will be exempt as their countries enjoy a reciprocal health arrangement with the UK.)
The health surcharge will be £200 per year and £150 per year for students, and will be payable at the same time as you apply for your visa.
You’ll need to pay up-front for the total period of the visa. The Home Office says this newly introduced ruling should not impact on the length of time taken for visas to be processed…unless the health surcharge payment is not made upon application.
For those already living in the UK who apply to extend their stay, this surcharge will also be applicable.
At the moment non-EEA nationals who move to the UK to work, study or join family members receive free medical treatment under the UK’s NHS in the same way as a permanent resident!
This new surcharge hopes to address that issue, and the money generated will go directly towards funding the NHS.
UK Immigration and Security Minister, James Brokenshire said: “For generations, the British public have paid their taxes to help make the NHS what it is today – the surcharge will mean temporary migrants will also pay their way.
“And by keeping the surcharge at a competitive level, we are also recognising the contribution temporary migrants make to the wider economy.”
The surcharge levels are lower than the cost of medical insurance required in most countries, and apparently represents only 1% of the total cost of studying in the UK for a three-year undergraduate course.
The new health surcharge does not affect those visiting the UK on a tourist visa. They will remain directly chargeable for hospital treatment as is the case now.
Please Note if you are a Tourist: The Department of Health is working on changes to their charging regulations which will mean that from April non-EEA visitors who use the NHS will be charged 150% of the cost of this treatment. So it’s highly recommended that you are in possession of adequate travel and health insurance!
According to the Home Office statement those entering the UK on an intra-company transfer (ICT Tier 2 visa) will be exempt from the charges but must still complete the process through the surcharge website.
To read more about the surcharge, click here