Even if you’re from another country, you can still get help if you need it. Find out what services are available to you as an international student.
Your healthcare entitlements
The NHS is the UK’s state-run health service. Some services are free and some you have to pay for.
The following NHS treatments are free for everyone:
- some emergency treatment (but not follow-up treatment)
- family planning services
- treatment of certain communicable diseases
- compulsory psychiatric treatment.
Other treatments will depend on your eligibility.
European Economic Area and Swiss nationals
All European Economic Area (EEA) nationals should obtain an EHIC card before coming to the UK. Download the GOV.UK leaflet on EHIC [PDF 464KB].
The EHIC card entitles you to the same medical treatment free to UK residents. It is important you obtain this card before you leave your home country.
There's more information about healthcare in the UK for EU, EEA and Swiss students on the UKCISA website.
If you’re not an EEA national and you’re studying on a Tier 4 visa you will pay an Immigration Health Surcharge as part of your application. You also need to pay this charge if you extend your visa.
This surcharge gives you the same medical treatment free to UK residents while you’re here.
Early arrival in the UK
If you plan to arrive in the UK before the start of your course, you should take out short-term medical insurance to cover you.
If you’re not covered by the NHS
If you are at Sussex on a short term study visa, or your programme lasts for fewer than six months, you’re only entitled to limited free NHS treatment.
You will have free hospital treatment in an NHS Accident and Emergency department. However, if you stay on a ward or have an outpatient appointment, charges will apply.
GPs may agree to treat you for free, but this will usually be limited to urgent treatment that cannot be delayed until you return home. You will have to pay for any other treatment as a private patient.
Even if you qualify for free NHS treatment, you might want to be seen more quickly or get a higher level of treatment. To do this you would need comprehensive health insurance.
UK private medical treatment is very expensive. If you already have medical insurance in your home country, check if you can extend it to cover your stay in the UK.
Health and travelling
If you are travelling outside of the UK while you’re a student, check details of visas and health insurance.
Seeing a dentist
Dental treatment on the NHS is subsidised but not free. Dental surgery can be expensive, particularly if you choose a private dentist. Ask about the cost before having any treatment.
Going to an optician
You can find local eye care services through the NHS Choices website. You have to pay to see an optician, so ask for information about costs before undergoing treatment.
If you need follow-up treatment at hospital, the cost depends on your eligibility.
Pharmacy and prescriptions
Sources of help
There are different kinds of health support to help you stay well and succeed in your studies.
Going to the doctor
If you become unwell, speak to your doctor – sometimes called a general practitioner (GP). If you’re not registered with a doctor, you could visit a walk-in clinic. There is an NHS centre near Brighton train station. You may also like to contact the 111 service for non-emergencies.
Sometimes you might be referred to a more specialised doctor at a hospital rather than visiting a GP.
Show your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), European Heath Insurance card (EHIC) or insurance documents at hospital appointments to avoid being charged.
While some countries charge up-front for emergency treatment, in the UK you can get help in an emergency straight away. Any costs you pay depend on your healthcare entitlements.
Your health and your studies
If you are worried about how your health might have an impact on your studies, speak to the Student Life Centre.
If you have a long-term health or learning condition, you can get ongoing help from the Student Support Unit.
You can talk to someone at a welfare drop-in session in the Student Life Centre if you have worries about anything which may include your studies, relationships, money issues or the way you are feeling. No issue is too big or too small.
If you’re worried about a friend, you can speak to the Student Life Centre.
If you’re moving from another country you may need time to adjust to new surroundings.
Culture shock can range from missing the food you eat back home to more intense feelings such as anxiety.