The UK's IHS fee is going up... What does that mean for me?

The UK's IHS fee is going up... What does that mean for me?


The UK's government is planning to increase the countries Immigration Health Surcharge during the 2018 calendar year. They have not released an exact date for the increase yet, but we expect it will happen within the coming months (June-July 2018). The big question is what this means for you, the UK visa applicant! Read the post below for more information about the IHS - what it pays for, why it's important, and how you can avoid the fee increase!

What is the IHS (Immigration Health Surcharge)?

The IHS is a surcharge that all UK bound visa applicants must pay when they apply for a visa to work in the UK (this includes students and Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa applicants). The surcharge amounts to £150 per year for students and Youth Mobility applicants (for the 2 year duration of the visa), so a total of £300 (around $550)  - and £200 per year for all other visas, so the UK Ancestry Visa, for example, comes with a £1000 (around $1800) surcharge for the full 5 year duration. This surcharge is paid up front, when you apply for your UK visa, is not optional, and must be paid in full, for the full duration of your visa, regardless of how long you actually plan to stay in the UK.

What does this surcharge cover?

In all honestly, this surcharge is actually a pretty good deal. Your surcharge goes into the NHS health system, covering the costs of your UK health care services for the duration of your visa's validity in the UK. This means that you'll have the same access to health care as any other UK resident/citizen. In terms of healthcare costs, and access to a great healthcare system, this is quite a good deal.

Do I still need travel insurance when I move to the UK?

We do still recommend travel insurance, yes - but typically, only for the first 3-6 months of your trip (this ensures that you are adequately covered for your flight over, covers lost/stolen baggage if you opt for that coverage, and ensures coverage while you settle in to life in the UK, etc). There are indeed other benefits to a longer-term travel coverage policy that you won't get through the UK's NHS coverage alone, so some travellers still do prefer to move overseas with both. And remember, your NHS coverage will not cover you for trips outside of the UK, so for any weekend getaways, additional travel insurance is essential! If you have questions about your travel insurance needs, don't hesitate to contact us!

When and why is the surcharge going up?

The UK government claims that the increase will bring some £220m into the NHS system every year. This will help the country to further improve their healthcare system, and manage the additional costs brought on by migrants (permanent and temporary) living in the UK. Then when is much less clear. Right now, we don't know, but it's expected to change some time in the next few months (June or July 2018).

Is there any way I can avoid the increase?

Yes! There is! If you plan to travel to the UK within the next 6 months, whether through our UK Pub Job Program, or even via other means - you'll want to apply for your UK visa NOW. You can apply up to 6 months in advance as it is, and by applying now - before the increase takes effect - you will be saving yourself between $550-$1800 in the process!