Health & safety

Studying in the UK offers more than a world-class education. One other benefit is access to high-quality healthcare. Here's what you need to know about healthcare in the UK and what you should think about before you travel.

Before you leave

Vaccinations

When you arrive at the airport in the UK you may be asked to give proof of the vaccinations you have had (diphtheria, tetanus, polio, meningitis, measles, mumps and rubella). If you are coming from a tuberculosis (TB) high-risk area, you may also need a chest X-ray report.

Requirements will vary depending on your country of origin, so you should check with the British Embassy or High Commission in your home country. And, make sure you pack health certificates in your hand luggage.

Documentation

If you are receiving medical treatment in your home country, you have had any serious illnesses in the past, or you are registered disabled, make sure you bring all your current prescriptions with you and a report from your doctor. These documents will need to be in English or translated into English.

The documents should give details of your condition, all treatment and/or medication you require, and any assistance or support you will need while you are studying.

Do you need health insurance?

Ask the health authorities in your home country about the treatment that will be covered for you in the UK. If you are not entitled to treatment by the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, it is highly recommended that you take out medical insurance before you leave home, or as soon as possible after you arrive.

For a list of the UK's health agreements with other countries, visit the Department of Health website.

For more useful information, download the British Council's free guide Studying and living in the UK.

When you're living in the UK

The National Health Service

As an international student, you (and any members of your family who have come with you) may be entitled to free or subsidised treatment with the UK's National Health Service (NHS). You will usually need to be on a course of six months or more to qualify, though you will always receive emergency treatment. If you are a national or resident of a European Economic Area (EEA) country, you will receive this benefit whatever the length of your studies. 

If you have a disability

If you have a disability of any kind, contact the course provider before you arrive in the UK. Most institutions can make special arrangements that take your disability into account.

Making it a safe stay

We want your stay in the UK to be safe one. The British Council produce booklets that give practical advice on personal health and safety. You can download some free guides below. You could also read more about health on the Education UK website.

Safety first - a personal safety guide for international students

Creating confidence: making sure that your time studying in the UK is safe and enjoyable