Scotland’s Healthcare

Comprehensive free healthcare is available to people living Scotland. You’re eligible for free NHS (National Health Service) care if you have a valid visa that allows you to live in the UK for at least one year. The majority of NHS Scotland provision is paid for through taxation. Private care is paid for, usually, through a private healthcare insurance scheme or individuals.

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
  • Dental treatment
  • Optical treatment – but eye tests are free in Scotland

Students on a full-time course receive the same free care as permanent residents. If you are studying part-time you could also be eligible for free NHS treatment.

If you are employed or self-employed in Scotland you are entitled to health care from the NHS, as will your spouse and immediate family.

Any treatment or help with NHS costs does not impact on your immigration status.

The NHS in Scotland is managed by the Scottish Government. More information on the care available to you is on the Scottish Government website and NHS inform.

Local Doctors

If you are living in Scotland, you will need to register with a local Scottish GP (General Practitioner). For students, the university will normally provide the name of a suitable GP in the area or on campus. It is free to register, and nearly all the treatment will be free of charge.


Some services, such as dental care do require a fee, however, you may be entitled to receive help with payments.

24-Hour Care

If you are ill outside of normal GP opening times, or have a medical query that is non-urgent – you can contact NHS 24 online or by phone on 111. They provide 24-hour telephone care and can put you in touch with the relevant health services you need.

Working for the NHS

NHS Scotland is the single biggest employer in Scotland employing people in over 70 professions. Applications are particularly welcome from professionally qualified healthcare staff from outside the UK. For a list of current opportunities and advice visit NHS Jobs Scotland website.