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 apply for a visa to work, study or join family in the UK 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 to the NHS on the same basis as permanent residents. This fee is known as the Immigration Health Surcharge. The annual fee is £624 per year of the visa for those applying for a visa to work or join family members and a discounted fee of £470 per year of the visa for students; those on the Youth Mobility Scheme; and those under the age of 18 at the time of their application.

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 111 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.