What are the criteria UK gov uses to determine whether you're a resident?
The NHS works on a residency based system where anyone who has ‘ordinary residence’ is eligible for free healthcare. Some NHS services are not free, like dentistry, prescriptions, and eye tests, unless the patient is exempt from paying towards these costs.
Certain criteria have to be met to be considered ‘ordinarily resident’, which is not the same as nationality or immigration status.
You do not automatically get ordinary residence status just because you have a registered GP, own property or pay National Insurance contributions. You cannot have ordinary residence if you are:
- A non-EEA or Swiss national without indefinite leave to remain
- An EEA/Swiss national not resident in the UK
- An undocumented irregular migrant or failed asylum seeker.
The Department of Health & Social Care Guidance: Ordinary residence tool, explains establishing ordinary residence and eligibility for free NHS secondary care for the following groups:
- UK Nationals
- from 1 July 2021, EEA/Swiss Nationals with EUSS
- non-EEA/Swiss Nationals with indefinite leave to remain
A person is ordinarily resident if they are living in the United Kingdom:
- for settled purposes as part of the regular order of their life for the time being, whether for a long or short duration
The concept of “settled purpose” has been developed by the courts. There may be one purpose or several, it may be specific or general, and it may be for a limited period. All that is necessary in this context is that the purpose for living in the UK has a sufficient degree of continuity to be described as settled.
Questions to consider include:
- Have they been in the UK for the last 6 months or more?
- Do they intend to remain in the UK for 6 months?
- Is their stay in the UK one of several regular and significant stays?
- Does their housing situation in the UK appear stable?
- Can they show that they are paying utility bills and council tax at their UK address?
- Are they employed, self-employed or a recognised job seeker in the UK?
- Do any close family also live in the UK?
- If the person has recently come to the UK, is there evidence of activity in another country that suggests that they are establishing residence here?
- If they have recently been absent from the UK, was that absence temporary and not indicative of migration overseas?
For each question, the guidance provides examples of evidence the patient may have.