Learn more about who is eligible for treatment at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and in which circumstances.

Overseas Visitor’s information

If you are visiting the United Kingdom and require treatment in our hospitals, you may have to pay for your treatment. This page gives you more details about treatment for overseas visitors.

Resident of the UK?

NHS hospital treatment is not free for everyone. Anyone of any nationality who is not ordinarily resident in the UK at the time of treatment is an ‘Overseas Visitor’. This means that they may be charged for the treatment they receive at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.

NHS hospitals have a legal obligation to establish whether a person is an overseas visitor, and whether charges apply or they have an exemption. Where there is no exemption, we must charge the person liable and recover the costs from them.

Establishing residency

If you come to us for treatment, you may be asked to complete a form and provide documents to prove that you are ordinarily resident in the UK.

If you can’t provide the documents you may have to pay a deposit equal to the estimated cost of your treatment before you have an appointment or treatment.

Maternity services, or treatment which the doctor or nurse thinks is immediately necessary or urgent, will not be withheld. However charges will still apply and you will receive an invoice after your treatment. A person does not become ordinarily resident in the UK simply by:

  • having British nationality
  • holding a British passport
  • being registered with a GP
  • having an NHS number
  • owning property in the UK
  • Having paid (or are currently paying) National Insurance contributions and taxes in this country
  • Whether a person is ordinarily resident is a question of fact, for which a number of factors are taken into account.

How can I prove that I am entitled to free hospital treatment?

To receive free hospital treatment, you will need to provide evidence that you are legally living within the UK. All patients who are treated at our trust, whatever their nationality and living status, are required to provide correct information when registering their details. If you are living in the UK on a settled basis then you should be prepared to provide evidence.

Free treatment

Some NHS services are free to everyone. This includes family-planning services and treatment of certain infectious diseases.

Treatment at the Emergency Department is free only up to the point an overseas visitor is admitted as an inpatient, or given an outpatient appointment. This means that emergency treatment elsewhere in the hospital such as coronary care and further emergency or urgent treatment after admission is chargeable.

Patients living in European Economic Area (EEA) countries

If you access our services because the need arose during your visit to the UK, you will need to show us your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or a Provisional Replacement Card (PRC).

If you do not have these documents with you, you cannot demonstrate that you have an exemption to charges. You will be required to pay for your treatment and recover the costs from your ‘healthcare abroad team’ when you return home.

I am just visiting the UK. Do I definitely have to pay for treatment if I become unwell?

No. There are a number of circumstances under which you might still be entitled to free healthcare:

  • If you are visiting the UK and you normally live in a country that has a bilateral healthcare agreement with the UK, you might be entitled to free healthcare if you become unwell during your visit to the UK
  • If you are visiting the UK and you normally live in a country that is a member of the European Economic Area healthcare arrangement, you will be entitled to free healthcare, provided that you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This card does not entitle you to pre-planned treatment – only emergency treatment
  • If you have come from abroad to take up employment or studies in the UK, you might be entitled to free hospital treatment. However, it will not be enough to show your ‘right to work’. You need to be able to show evidence that you are actually working for a UK-based employer. If you are in full-time study, you need to be able to show that you are attending a full time course of not less than six months duration
  • If you are a refugee or an asylum seeker whose formal application to the UK Border Agency is still being considered, you will not have to pay hospital charges. A refugee is someone who has been granted asylum in this country. If you are a refugee or an asylum seeker you will still have to pay for all prescribed medications.


If you have any concerns or need any further information please contact:

Overseas Visitors Manager:

Telephone Number: 0191 565 6256 x 47953
Email:  stsft.chsft.overseas@nhs.net

Advice and Complaints Service

Telephone: 0191 569 9855
Email: stsft.adviceandcomplaints@nhs.net

You can find more information on the NHS Website: