How to get Free NHS Prescriptions and Dental Treatment in the UK

— Juliet Edjere

It’s no news that relocation can get very expensive. Moving costs can add up quickly, and it’s easy to forget this when you are so focused on packing.

One way to save money during your settlement process is to get financial help to cover some health expenses.

This information sheet includes:

  1. the various NHS services you may be able to access for free and what's covered
  2. the eligibility criteria for these services

Although most NHS treatment is free, there are still some costs you might need to pay. There is usually a charge for:

  • NHS prescriptions
  • NHS dental check-ups and treatment
  • sight tests
  • new glasses or contact lenses
  • repairing or replacing glasses or contact lenses
  • NHS wigs
  • NHS fabric supports – things like surgical bras, support tights and spinal supports
  • travel for NHS treatment

The good news is you could be entitled to get help to pay for these NHS health costs depending on your circumstances.

If you are in Scotland or Wales

NHS prescriptions are usually free in Scotland and Wales. In Scotland, you also get free NHS dental checkups and sight tests. In Wales, you get free NHS dental checkups if you are under 25.

Who is entitled to free NHS individual treatment?

In some circumstances, you're automatically entitled to free NHS prescriptions and NHS dental treatment. We’ve highlighted these under three umbrellas: Age, Benefits and Valid certificate.

1. Age Criteria

You’re entitled to free NHS prescriptions if you are:

  • under 16 years old
  • aged 18 and under and in full-time education (16, 17, or 18)
  • 60 or over

You’re entitled to free NHS dental treatment if you are:

  • under 18 years old
  • aged 18 and in full-time education

2. Benefits Criteria

You already get full help with health costs, and do not need to apply for the NHS Low Income Scheme, if you or your partner get:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based JSA (Jobseeker's Allowance)
  • Income-related ESA (Employment and Support Allowance)
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit paid on its own, or Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit with Savings Credit)
  • Universal Credit (but only if your earnings during your last complete assessment period were £435 or less, or £935 or less if you had a child element or had limited capability for work)
  • Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit)
  • Certain Tax Credits (read the NHS Tax Credit Exemption certificate information)

You're NOT entitled to free prescriptions or dental treatment if you get:

  • contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance, paid on its own
  • contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance, paid on its own
  • Pension Credit (Savings Credit), paid on its own
  • any benefit paid on its own and not in the above 'list of entitled benefits' (such as Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Incapacity Payment)

3. Valid Certificate

You’re also entitled to free NHS prescriptions if you have one of these certificates and it is still valid.

First, what are exemption certificates? An NHS exemption certificate helps you to pay for your NHS costs, such as prescriptions or dental treatment. You can check what help you could get and what to do next.

  • HC2 certificate (full help through the Low Income Scheme). HC2 certificates will entitle you to receive some or all of the above NHS services free of charge.
  • HC3 certificate (partial help through the Low Income Scheme). An HC3 certificate does not entitle you to free prescriptions.
  • prescription prepayment certificate (PPC)
  • medical exemption certificate
  • maternity exemption certificate
  • Tax Credit exemption certificate
  • War pension exemption certificate
  • prescription exemption certificate issued by the Ministry of Defence

So how do you know for sure that you are eligible to apply for free health care? let’s get into the eligibility test.

Check if you're eligible to get free help

If you're still not sure if you can get help, it only takes 3 minutes to use the eligibility checker to check what help you could get to pay for NHS costs here.

Maze tip ☞ If you are not sure of your eligibility, one of our consultants is always on hand to help you. Reach out to us at

Students aged 19 and over aren’t automatically entitled to free prescriptions but can apply for help through the NHS Low Income Scheme. If you're employed with a low income you may also be eligible for help through this scheme.

Proving you’re entitled to free treatment

If you’re entitled to free treatment, you’ll be asked to show written proof that you don’t have to pay for your treatment. You’ll also be asked to sign a form.

Checks are made on free treatment claims. If you claim when you’re not entitled, even by mistake, you could face a penalty charge of £100 plus the cost of your treatment. That’s why it’s important you know your entitlement before you visit the doctor.

Dental treatment

If you’re not sure whether you’re entitled to free treatment you should pay the charges and ask for the NHS receipt form FP64, or a receipt that shows the total NHS charge and the date you paid.

If you find out later that you’re entitled to free or reduced cost treatment, you can apply for a refund for charges that were part of your NHS treatment. You must make your refund claim within three months of paying. Ask for an HC5(D) refund form or visit to download and print.


If you pay NHS prescription charges then find out that you’re entitled to free prescriptions or backdate a prescription prepayment certificate, you can only get a refund if you were given an FP57 refund receipt when you paid. You cannot get one later.

Take your FP57 refund receipt to any community pharmacy, with evidence that you were entitled to free NHS prescriptions when you paid. You must do this within three months of the date that you paid. The pharmacy will refund you.

What’s Next

Find out more about how you could get help to pay for these health costs: More information on the NHS low-income scheme is available via the NHS costs helpline 0300 330 1343 or the NHS website or for Northern Ireland the  NIdirect website.

Now you know how to save some money with access to free NHS prescriptions, NHS dental treatment and other NHS costs depending on your financial circumstances!

This article is correct as of the date it was published. It is important to get up-to-date advice, reach out to relocation support at for help.

Select an NHS service from the dropdown and enter your postcode - GP, Dentist, Optician, Hospital, Pharmacy, Flu vaccination

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We connect people relocating with service providers, reduce cost and enable the personalization of customer journeys to the UK.

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