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UK Visa Insurance Requirements

The insurance requirements for international student visas for the UK

With a storied past and dynamic present second to none, studying abroad in the United Kingdom can be the experience of a lifetime. As with any adventure, however, it is important to take precautions. Accordingly, for your health and safety - not to mention your mother’s sanity - you should make sure you understand the visa insurance requirements for the UK before you set out because different visa categories enjoy different benefits from the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). Though insurance requirements for international students in the UK can at times seem complicated, we are here to help you figure out what benefits you can expect with in the UK so that you can spend less time worrying and more time enjoying your time overseas.

The UK, like many other European countries, divides its international students into several distinct camps based on their age, their country of origin, and how long they will be studying in UK. Though the UK has distinct visa categories for those below and above age 17, for the purposes of our discussion we will focus on adult student categories only. Among adults, two visa categories – student visitor and Tier 4 general – exist to serve the needs of international students studying in the UK for different lengths of time. The visa you hold will determine which aspects of the UK visa insurance requirements pertain to you.

Student Visitors

Adults pursuing a short course of study in the UK (be it an ESL immersion or trade certification course) are entitled to a student visitor visa. Student visitor visa holders are entitled to stay in the UK for up to 6 months (11 months for English-language students), cannot extend their stay beyond this period, and are not eligible to receive benefits from the NHS. As such, students planning to undertake short-term study programs in the UK are advised to purchase their own private medical health insurance.

Tier 4 (General)

By contrast, those pursuing longer courses of study must apply for a Tier 4 (General) visa. Though the application process is more rigorous, it does entitle visa holders to work part-time and free NHS hospital treatment in the UK. The healthcare benefit also extends to the spouse and dependent children of students. (Note: Tier 4 visa holders who are enrolled in a course that is less than six months in length still need to have medical insurance.)

At the same time, students (and their dependents) who fall into one of the following categories are also entitled to benefits from the NHS and do not need to purchase UK insurance for international students:

  • studying on a course of any duration that is substantially funded by the UK Government
  • from a country which is part of the European Economic Area or Switzerland
  • from a country which is a part of the European Economic Area or Switzerland but does have a bilateral agreement*
    Regardless of whether you meet the UK visa insurance requirements to receive NHS benefits, however, all legal residents are entitled to free emergency treatment at Primary Care Practices, Walk-In Centers, and Accident and Emergency departments.

For a complete list of countries with reciprocal agreements, see the following archived page from the UK’s Department of Health. We also offer the following plans to students who are planning to travel, study or visit the UK:

Europe Travel Atlas Travel Student Secure
Policy MaximumPolicy Max. €40,000 to €6 Million $50,000 to $2 Million $200,000 to $5,000,000 max$200k to $5M max
DeductibleDed. €0 up to €2,000 $0 up to $5,000 $25 up to $100
Currency € Euro priced $ USD priced $ USD priced
Premium Starting at €0.54/ day Starting at $0.85/ day Starting at $0.85/ day

Best Insurance Plans for the UK

We have a range of insurance plans, however for students studying in the UK the best insurance options are: