If you are looking to come to the UK to receive private medical treatment or to donate an organ, unless you are a non-visa national, you’ll need to apply for a visa before you can travel to Britain.
In this guide, we explain the UK immigration rules for overseas nationals looking to come to the UK for medical reasons, including when you need a UK medical visa, the visa requirements and application process and if you can apply to extend your visa.
Do you need a medical visa for the UK?
If you plan to come to the UK, either to receive private medical treatment or to donate an organ, whether or not you will need a visa in advance of travel will depend on where you are from. For example, even though most non-UK resident EEA and Swiss nationals now fall within the scope of the UK’s new points-based immigration system post-Brexit, they will still be permitted to visit the UK without applying for a visa for a period of up to 6 months. This includes those visiting the UK for medical reasons, provided they do not intend to undertake any activity not permitted under the UK’s Immigration Rules, including work.
There are also nationals from various other countries around the world that will not usually need a visa to visit the UK for medical reasons. These nationals are known as non-visa nationals. A list of nationalities that do require entry clearance from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) prior to travelling as a visitor to the UK can be found here or under “Appendix Visitor: Visa national list” of the Immigration Rules.
What is the UK medical visa?
There is no specific medical visa for the UK. Instead, you would apply for a UK visitor visa, which allows visa nationals to come to the UK, usually for a period of up to 11 months, for a medical reason. This could include coming to the UK to either receive private medical treatment at a hospital or at another medical facility. It could also include coming to the UK to have treatment at an NHS hospital, provided the care is funded by your own government under a reciprocal healthcare arrangement. Additionally, under a medical visa, you can come to the UK where you have agreed to act as an organ donor for a family member or close friend, or to be assessed for suitability as a potential donor.
As a non-visa national, if you need to come to the UK for any more than 6 months, you will need to apply and be approved by UKVI for a medical visa UK in advance of travel.
UK medical visa eligibility requirements
There are various eligibility requirements for all visitors seeking entry to the UK, together with certain additional criteria where you are applying to visit for medical reasons. Under the standard criteria, all visitors are required to satisfy UKVI that they are a “genuine visitor”. This means that you must be able to prove to UKVI that:
- you will be leaving the UK at the end of your stay
- you will not be living in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits
- you will not make the UK your main home
- you are genuinely seeking entry for medical reasons
- you will not be undertaking any prohibited activities as set out under the Rules
- you have enough money to cover all of your reasonable costs in the UK, without working or accessing public funds, including the cost of your return or onward journey.
If the cost of travel, maintenance and accommodation in the UK is to be covered by a third party, UKVI must be satisfied that a genuine personal or professional relationship exists between you and that person. They must also be satisfied that this person is not or will not be in breach of any UK immigration laws, and that they can and will provide you with full financial support for the entire duration of your stay in the UK.
Under the additional criteria for visitors coming to the UK to receive private medical treatment, you must satisfy the following eligibility requirements:
- if you have been found to be suffering from a communicable disease, you must have satisfied the medical inspector that you are not a danger to public health
- you must have arranged your private medical treatment in the UK before you travel
- you must provide a letter from either your doctor or consultant in the UK detailing the medical condition requiring consultation or treatment, plus the estimated costs and likely duration, which must be finite, and where the consultation/treatment will be taking place
- if you plan to receive NHS treatment under a reciprocal healthcare arrangement between the UK and another country, you must provide an authorisation form issued by the government of that country
- if you are applying to come to the UK for up to 11 months, you must also provide either evidence from your doctor or consultant based in the UK that the proposed treatment is likely to exceed 6 months, but no more than 11 months, or if you intend to receive NHS treatment under a reciprocal healthcare arrangement, an authorisation form which states that the proposed treatment is again likely to exceed 6 months, but not 11 months
provide a valid medical certificate which confirms that you have undergone screening for TB, if applicable.
Under the additional criteria for visitors coming to the UK to donate an organ or be assessed as a potential donor match, you must satisfy the following eligibility requirements:
- you must genuinely intend to donate one of your organs to, or be assessed as a potential donor for, an identified recipient in the UK with whom you have either a genetic or close personal relationship
- you must provide written confirmation of tests to show that you are a donor match for the identified recipient, or that you are undergoing further tests to be assessed as their potential donor
- you must provide a letter, dated no more than 3 months before your intended date of arrival in the UK from either the lead nurse or coordinator of the UK NHS Trust’s Living Donor Kidney Transplant team — or a UK registered medical practitioner
- who holds an NHS consultant post or appears in the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council — which confirms that you meet the relevant requirements, as well as when and where the planned organ transplant or medical tests will take place in the UK
- you must be able to show, if you are required to do so, that the identified recipient is currently lawfully present in the UK or will be at the time of the planned transplant.
How to apply for a medical visa for the UK
An application for a medical visa UK can be made online to UKVI from outside the UK.
As part of your online visa application, you will need to pay the relevant fee and schedule an appointment at an overseas visa application centre. You will have your fingerprints scanned and facial photograph taken at this appointment. You will also be required to provide supporting documentation to prove your eligibility for this type of visa.
Medical visa supporting documents
When applying for a medical visa UK, in addition to a passport or other valid travel document, you will need to provide various documents in support of your application.
First, you will need to satisfy UKVI that you meet all of the standard eligibility criteria relevant to the visitor route. As such, you will need to prove that you are genuine visitor and intend to return home after you have received your medical treatment, or donated an organ or been assessed as a potential match. This could include, for example, proof that you have family commitments to return to or that you own or rent a property overseas.
You must also show that you are able to fund your travel costs and support yourself during your stay in the UK, where you will need to provide evidence of your financial resources, such as wage slips or bank statements, as well as details of where you plan to stay. If your UK trip is being funded by a third party, that party should provide a signed written undertaking to be responsible for any maintenance and accommodation costs.
Secondly, you will need to provide the relevant documentary evidence as required under the additional criteria for visitors seeking entry to the UK to receive private medical treatment, or to donate an organ or be assessed as a potential donor. This must include evidence from the relevant medical professionals involved in your treatment or procedure.
Importantly, the evidence required in support of the medical visa UK can be complex, where it is often wise to seek the advice and assistance of a specialist in immigration law. Given that time may be of the essence in the context of receiving medical treatment or agreeing to be an organ donor, it is absolutely essential that your application is approved first time round, where having a legal expert to help with the application process and gather the necessary documentation can help to maximise the prospects of a successful outcome.
How long does a medical visa UK take to process?
The earliest you can apply for a medical visa UK is 3 months before you travel. Having submitted your online application for a visa, you should get a decision from UKVI within 3 weeks of attending your appointment at an overseas visa application centre.
Depending on what country you are applying from, you may be able to pay to get a quicker decision on your visa application by using a priority or super priority service. You will need to check with the visa application centre in the country in which you are currently based.
How much is a UK medical visa?
The cost of applying for a medical visa UK is £100 for a visa for less than 6 months, increasing to £200 for a visa for more than 6 months but not more than 11 months.
Can you extend a medical visa UK?
If you already know in advance that your medical treatment will last longer than 6 months, and the documentation provided in support of your application clearly demonstrates this, UKVI ought to grant you an initial stay of 11 months at a cost of £200. Alternatively, you can initially apply for a visa for up to 6 months at a cost of £100 and subsequently apply to stay for a further 6 months when you are in the UK at an additional cost of £1,000.
There is no maximum limit on the number of times that you can extend your stay in the UK, provided you meet the following requirements:
- you have paid for any medical treatment that you have already received in the UK
- you can and will pay the additional costs of your medical treatment
- you continue to meet the eligibility requirements for a medical visa UK.
However, it will cost you £1000 each time you apply to extend your stay for medical reasons, regardless of your nationality. You will also need to apply for an extension while you are still in the UK and prior to expiry of your existing visa. In support of an extension application for a medical visa UK, you will need to provide the following:
written evidence from a medical practitioner or NHS consultant who is registered in the UK to provide details of your medical condition that needs further treatment
if you are having ongoing treatment at an NHS hospital under a reciprocal healthcare arrangement, you will need to provide an additional authorisation form from your country’s government stating that they will pay for your further treatment.
When you apply for a visa extension, you will be asked to schedule an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point to enrol your biometric information and provide your supporting documentation. A decision will usually be made by UKVI on your extension application within a period of 8 weeks, unless you pay an additional £800 to use the super priority service. You must not leave the UK before getting a decision, otherwise you risk having your visa application withdrawn.
DavidsonMorris are UK immigration specialists. Our dedicated team of legal advisers provide eligibility and application guidance on all aspects of the UK visitor visa, including when travelling to receive private medical treatment
For expert advice on making a Home Office application, contact us.
Medical visa FAQs
How do I get a medical visa for the UK?
To obtain a medical visa UK, you will need to submit an online application from outside the UK and pay the fee. You may also need to attend an appointment at an overseas visa application centre with your supporting documentation.
What documents do I need for medical visa?
To be approved for a medical visa UK, you will need detailed and documentary evidence from the relevant medical professionals involved in your treatment or the procedure for donating an organ, where seeking advice from an immigration specialist is advisable.
How much is a medical UK visa?
The cost of applying for a medical visa UK to visit for up to 6 months is £100. The application fee for a private medical treatment visa lasting more than 6 months but not more than 11 months is £200.
How long does it take to get medical visa in UK?
To apply for a medical visa UK from overseas, the processing time for UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to make a decision is usually no more than 3 weeks. You may also be able to pay for a faster decision.
Last updated: 27 April 2023