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Overseas Visitors

What is an Overseas Visitor?

An Overseas Visitor is a person not normally resident in the United Kingdom.

The National Health Service provides healthcare for people who live in the UK.  People who do not normally live in this country are not automatically entitled to use the NHS free of charge. 

This is regardless of their nationality, whether they hold a British passport, or have lived in and paid National Insurance contributions and taxes to this country in the past.

Welsh Assembly Government Regulations

The Regulations place a legal obligation on the UHB to establish if patients are not normally resident in the UK. If they are not, then the patient may be charged for the NHS services provided, subject to a list of exemptions.

NHS Charged Patients

Patients charged under the Regulations are treated as NHS Charged Patients, and not private patients. Unlike private patients, NHS Charged Patients are liable to pay for their treatment even where an undertaking to pay has not been obtained.

The treatment of NHS Charged Patients is subject to the same clinical priority as other NHS patients.


If you are liable to pay for your treatment, Cardiff and Vale UHB accepts the following forms of payment:
• Cash
• Cheque
• Credit/Debit Card

Payment can be made at the Cashiers' Department, located in the main concourse of the University Hospital of Wales at Heath Park. The cashier will provide a receipt for the amount paid.

Emergency Treatment

Some services provided in NHS hospitals are free to everyone, regardless of where they are resident. This currently includes treatment given in an Accident & Emergency Department (A&E), or Casualty Department.

Once the patient is admitted to a ward, or given an outpatient appointment, treatment ceases to be free, and from this point on a charge will be made.

For example, where emergency treatment is given elsewhere in the hospital, for instance, in an Intensive Care Unit, the treatment is chargeable - it is the location that is exempt, not the type of treatment provided.

Overseas Visitors Exemptions

If the patient is not normally resident in the UK, the Overseas Visitor Team will need to make enquiries into the circumstances of the patient, to determine if they meet one of the categories of exemption, or are liable to pay for their treatment.

It is the patient's responsibility to provide evidence supporting the claim to free treatment, otherwise charges may be made.

Post Brexit Changes for EU Visitors

Planned healthcare after 1 January 2021

Planned healthcare arrangements will continue; and eligible pensioners, frontier workers and certain other groups – and their family members - will continue to benefit from reciprocal healthcare arrangements covering their healthcare costs.

Healthcare providers should continue to use the processes already in place to recover these costs from Member States.

With the ending of free movement, EU citizens who move to the UK from 1 January 2021 for more than six months will be subject to immigration control and pay the immigration health surcharge as part of any visa application. However, certain groups, where a Member State continues to cover their healthcare costs in full, will be able to seek reimbursement of the surcharge. Short-term visitors to the UK who are not covered by the new UK-EU agreement on reciprocal healthcare, including former UK residents, may be charged for NHS treatment.

Getting healthcare in Wales after 1 January 2021

EU citizens lawfully living in Wales before 31 J December 2020, will be able to use the NHS in Wales, as you can now. provided you have registered and obtained settled or pre-settled status to be able to continue to live in the UK and access NHS services free of charge. If you do not register, you may be considered an overseas visitor and may be charged for NHS services. To find out what free support is available when applying for settled and pre-settled status visit the Immigration Advice Service website.

To be considered ordinarily resident, you must be living in Wales on a lawful and properly settled basis for the time being. You may be asked for evidence of this.

Agreement with Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland

The UK has agreed citizens’ rights agreements with Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. These agreements mean that citizens of these countries living lawfully in the UK on the day the UK leaves the EU will be able to use the NHS as they do now.

These agreements do not cover citizens of these countries who move to the UK after the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.

Find out more about the Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement on GOV.UK.

Find out more about the EEA EFTA Citizens’ Rights Agreement (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) on GOV.UK

Agreement with Ireland

Irish citizens who live in the UK, and British citizens who live in Ireland, will continue to have healthcare cover in the country they live in after the UK’s departure from the EU on 31 December 2020. This is because of longstanding arrangements under the Common Travel Area.

Find out more information on the Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland on GOV.UK

Studying in Wales

You can continue to use your EHIC or Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) to access free NHS healthcare if you began a course of education or training in Wales before the UK left the EU. This will apply until the end of your course, even if it finishes after 31 December 2020.

If you started your education or training in Wales after the UK left the EU, your EHIC may not be valid. You should buy insurance to cover your healthcare as you would if visiting another non-EU country.

This does not affect the rights of individuals covered by the citizens’ rights agreements with Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.



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