Relocating to another country can be challenging; more so when you have a primary immunodeficiency (PID) or a secondary immunodeficiency (SID). 

Our top tip for anyone moving to the UK is to plan well in advance.  Arrangements can be complex depending on individual circumstances and Immunodeficiency UK does not have the information resources to address all situations. 

The key information you need to access health care in the UK, including GPs, can be found at 

Rules differ depending on which country you are coming from and your length of stay. 

Rules differ depending on whether you are normally resident in the EU or resident elsewhere. Please read the information carefully and familiarise yourself with any reciprocal health care arrangements with your own country. 

If you are visiting the UK for more than 6 months, you will be charged a health care surcharge as part of your visa application, unless you are exempt. Once you have paid the surcharge you should be entitled to the same NHS care as a permanent resident. 

If you’re visiting England for less than 6 months, you should ensure you’re covered for healthcare through personal medical insurance during your visit, even if you’re a former UK resident. If you’re not ordinarily resident in the UK and you need to pay for NHS hospital treatment, you’ll be charged at 150% of the national NHS rate. 

If you have medical insurance in your home country, you may wish to check whether it can be extended to cover your stay in the UK. 

If you are under the care of an immunologist or other specialist care where you live now, then contact the centre you are likely to attend once you move to the UK, to discuss continuing your treatment and monitoring. Early communication with a specialist team in the UK will reduce the likelihood of your treatment being stopped until you are able to see a doctor after you move.  

For how to find an immunologist please see the section ‘Finding an immunologist’. As it may take time to access Immunology Services, if you are on immunoglobulin therapy, please make sure you bring adequate supplies of immunoglobulin with you. 

General practitioners (GPs) 

GPs are the first point of contact for nearly all NHS patients. 

They can direct you to other NHS services and are experts in family medicine, preventative care, health education, and treating people with multiple and long-term conditions. 

If you’re planning to live and work in England, the first thing you should do is register with a GP practice. 

Further information about registering with a GP can be found via the above link. 

Please note that you may have to wait to see a GP. 

Hospital treatment 

If your move to the UK is permanent, you’re entitled to free NHS hospital treatment. Like all UK residents, you’ll have to pay some NHS charges (e.g. prescription charges), unless you are exempt from these. Different rules apply if you’re visiting the UK temporarily. If there’s a waiting list for the treatment you need, you’ll have to join the waiting list. The hospital may ask you for evidence that you live in the UK permanently, such as proof that you have bought or rented a property in the UK. 

Services that are free to everyone 

Some services or treatments carried out in an NHS hospital are exempt from charges, so they’re free to all. 

These include: 

Finding an immunologist 

The British Society for Immunology website includes a map that allows you to click on different regions of the UK to find immunology departments and consultants. It also gives information on whether the centre is UKPIN registered and has clinical pathology accreditation – both indicate that the centre works to high standards. 

The Regional Immunology Service of Northern Ireland provides a consultation service for inpatients both of the Belfast Trust and also of other hospitals in the region. Its website gives contact details for appointment enquiries, the administration team and the immunology nurses. 

Further information can be found at 

Updated June 2023