Healthcare in Scotland

Excellent healthcare and our Government's commitment to creating a healthier Scotland means your wellbeing is looked after.


When you live in Scotland, you and your family have access to a range of healthcare services on the National Health Service (NHS) - many of them free. You’re eligible for free NHS care if you have a valid visa that allows you to live in the UK for more than six months.

If you are from outside the European Economic Area (EAA) and apply for a visa to work, study or join family for six months or more, you will be required as part of the visa process to pay an annual fee to allow you to access on the same basis as permanent residents. This fee is known as the Immigration Health Surcharge. As of 8 January 2019, the annual fee is £400 for those applying for a visa to work or join family members and a discounted fee of £300 for students or those on the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme).

Existing visa holders will continue to be able to access the NHS as outlined above but will need to pay the additional fee when they apply to extend their UK visa.

The following NHS services are currently free in Scotland for people with a visa allowing them to live the UK for at least one year:

  • Medical advice from a doctor - General Practitioner (GP) and most other GP services
  • Medical treatment in a hospital, both emergency and non-emergency
  • Medicines prescribed by your GP

You may need to pay for:

  • Some GP services - for example, travel vaccinations
  • Some dental treatment
  • Some optical treatment – but eye tests are free in Scotland

24 hour health advice

Get online advice at NHS24 or call 08454 24 24 24 to speak to a health information advisor.

Private healthcare

You can choose to pay for private healthcare through a private insurance scheme. Though less common, some employers offer private healthcare insurance plans. Each private health insurance policy is different but can include treatments like counselling, psychotherapy, physiotherapy, alternative medicine and dental treatment. You will still be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge if you purchase private healthcare.

Complementary and alternative (holistic) medicine

Complementary medicines like acupuncture, aromatherapy and massage therapy and are widely available across Scotland.