What is an
24 March 2022
The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is a fee that most migrants are required to pay when applying for certain categories of UK visa. You will usually need to pay the IHS if you are coming to the UK for more than 6 months. The fee is to enable you to access healthcare on the NHS during your stay. You still need to pay the IHS even if you have private medical insurance.
Currently, the IHS is £624 per person per year, or £470 a year for under-18s, students and Youth Mobility Scheme visa holders. The IHS fee is also payable for any dependant applicants. The IHS significantly increases the costs associated with applying for a UK visa, particularly for those coming to the UK with multiple dependant family members.
However, you may be eligible for a full or partial reimbursement of your IHS fee if your healthcare is paid for by an EU member state or Switzerland. In order to prove your entitlement and apply for a refund, you will need to obtain an S1 certificate.
What is an S1 certificate?
An S1 certificate is a document issued by an EU country or Switzerland which shows that you are entitled to healthcare in the UK paid for by that country.
You should be issued with an S1 certificate by the relevant state. Once you have obtained your S1 certificate, you should register it in the UK by sending it directly to the Overseas Healthcare team:
Overseas Healthcare Services
NHS Business Services Authority
152 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
Phone: 0191 218 1999, or +44 191 218 1999 from outside the UK.
Who is eligible?
You may be entitled to healthcare in the UK paid for by an EU country or Switzerland if you:
- Live in the UK and receive either a state pension or certain ‘exportable’ benefits from that country
- Live in the UK and work in an EU country or Switzerland (frontier worker)
- Are posted to work in the UK by an employer in an EU country or Switzerland
- Are an eligible family member or dependant of one of the above.
If you are not sure whether you are eligible, you will need to check with the relevant national health insurance authority to see if they are responsible for your health costs in the UK.
IHS refunds for S1 certificate holders
If your UK visa starts on or after 1 January 2021 and you’ve registered an S1 certificate issued to you by an EU member state, you may be eligible for a full or partial refund of your IHS payment.
You can also apply for a full or partial refund of your IHS payment if your visa starts on or after 1 January 2021 and you’ve registered an S1 certificate issued to you by Switzerland. However, you will only be able to backdate that refund to 1 November 2021.
To apply, contact the Overseas Healthcare Services team (details above).
You can also apply for a refund for any dependants who have registered an EU or Switzerland-issued S1 certificate, where you have paid the immigration health surcharge on their behalf. If they paid the immigration health surcharge themselves, they should apply for the refund.
If an employer or third party has paid the immigration health surcharge for you, you must begin the application on their behalf. The Overseas Healthcare Services team will then contact them for more information to process the application.
Please note that to get a full reimbursement, your S1 certificate must be valid for the length of your visa. If your S1 certificate only covers part of your stay in the UK, you will receive a partial reimbursement.
Help with your immigration application
If you have any questions regarding UK visas and immigration, Smith Stone Walters can help. To speak to a qualified immigration advisor, please contact us today.