How to Register with the National Health Service (NHS)

How to Register with the National Health Service (NHS)

Any person living in the UK can register with GP (general practitioner) practice to get NHS services. After being registered with GP, you will receive a NHS number. You will need a number to book online services or to register for the prescription. Your NHS number is issued only when you register for the first time and remain the same for the rest of life. If you only plan to stay in the UK for a short time, you can also register as a temporary patient. It may be necessary if you have any chronic illness or condition, or if you are injured while traveling in the UK.

Registering as an NHS Patient

Find a GP practice that best suits your needs. If you are a UK citizen or resident, you can register with any GP practice in the country. Generally, it is recommended that you get the GP closer to where you live. If you are sick or injured and can not travel for practice, GP will call a home if you are within the limits of that GP.

You can register with GP ahead of yourself. You may want to do this, for example, you are going to school far from your primary residence, or if you need special services that are not available nearby. If you register with a GP and you live outside the GP practice range, then you will not have the facility of home call. That GP also has the right to refuse registration, though it is rare if this practice is open to patients outside of their practice range.

You can browse the GP by going to

Fill in the GMS 1 form. The GMS 1 form provides information about your GP to identify your identity and your medical records. You can also use the form to register as Organ Donor or Blood Donor.

If you want to fill it in advance, you can download a copy of the standard form at However, keep in mind that some practices may have their own version of the form that they use instead.

Some GPs ask for Practice ID so that they can compare the details with the information on the NHS Central Registry and confirm that they match. However, to register legally with GP practice you do not have to show the ID, and no GP can refuse to register you because you do not have an ID.

Tip: Register a newborn with form FP58. This form is provided to the new parents immediately after birth with the child’s birth certificate.

Submit your GMS1 form to your chosen GP practice. When you have completed your form, take it to your chosen GP and give it to the receptionist. They will look at it and tell you whether you can register with that practice.

If the GP refuses to register you, then they should send you a letter due to which your registration was refused. A GP can refuse to register you only if it does not have the ability to take new patients or if you are out of its practice range.

Wait for the NHS letter confirming your registration. If GP agrees to register you, then practice will complete your GMS 1 form with information about the practice and send it to the NHS for processing. NHS will transfer your medical records to practice.

Once the practice achieves your medical records, the NHS will send you a notice confirming that you are now registered as a patient in that practice. Transfer of paper records can take up to 6 weeks, but the electronic records can be transferred immediately upon receiving the request.

If you need to see your GP for immediate care before your registration is confirmed, then you are free to do so. Upon receipt of practice, your medical records will be updated with an immediate care record.

Accessing NHS Services as a Temporary Patient

Get personal health insurance to cover you on your journey. First aid in the UK is free for all. However, if you are just visiting and need medical treatment, then you can pay for some services. Personal health insurance of your country will prevent you from paying with pocket.

If you already have personal health insurance, contact an agent and make sure your policy will cover any healthcare you need in the UK.

Visit an immediate treatment center for minor injuries. If you have a small disease or injury which is not a threat to life then seek immediate treatment center. These centers are staffed by a GP and need to open at least 12 hours every day of the week including bank holidays.

Although the immediate treatment centers are operated by a GP, but you will not have to register with that GP to get immediate treatment for your illness or injury.

Tip: If you are not sure what you need for NHS services, or if your situation is more important, then call NHS 111. Call only 999 if you or someone else is seriously ill or injured.

Ask the pharmacist for advice about minor illnesses. If you think you are coming with a cold or headache, a pharmacist can help you choose an effective method of treatment. Generally, this will include over-the-counter treatment to reduce the symptoms of your illness.

If the pharmacist believes that your condition is more serious then they can tell you where to go for medical treatment.

Pharmacists are often available late at night and on weekends, so they can be more accessible than other options.

Register with GP as a temporary patient if you need follow-up care. If you have to face any injury or illness, which requires more than 14 days of treatment, then register with GP practice where you are living near that place. That registration is valid for 3 months.

The GP receptionist will give you a form to fill. In addition to basic identification information, you have to give GP information about any medical conditions you have taken earlier, which you are currently taking, the name of any medicines or substances that you are allergic to. Name and contact information for your regular healthcare provider at home

To find a GP near you, go to and log in to the applicable postcode or city.

Tip: GP can refuse to register you as a temporary patient without giving any reason. You may have to try more than a GP before you find a person who agrees to your treatment. Some temporary patients are ready to accept compared to others.

If you are a European national then present your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). By March 2019, if you are a European national, you can use the free NHS health service while visiting the UK with your EHIC. You will not be charged for therapeutic treatment.

EHIC is free. If you do not already have one and you are planning to travel to the UK, you may want to apply for one before going. Each EU country has its own website where you can apply for an EHIC card.

If you have an EHIC card, you will not have to register with a GP to get healthcare, even if extended follow-up care is required.

Locating Your NHS Number

Check any letter received from your GP or NHS. Your NHS number appears on any correspondence you receive in the mail from your GP or NHS, including the leaflet notifications, examination results, or reminder reminders. If you have any medical correspondence at home, then perhaps your NHS number is on it.

Your NHS number consists of 10 digits, arranged in 3 digits, then one position, then the next 3 digits, then one position, then the last 4 digits. This format was introduced in 1996 to replace an earlier version, in which both numbers and letters were used. The old version is no longer valid. If your NHS number was released before 1996, then it has been replaced with a 10-digit version.

Tip: If you use NHS services as a temporary patient while traveling to the UK from abroad, you will not be issued NHS numbers.

Contact your GP and ask for your NHS number. If you can not find your NHS number on any of the documents present at home, then the GP registered by you will be able to help you. Just call and tell them that you want your NHS number and they will tell you what their procedure is to get them.

Some GPs want you to come into practice individually and get a passport, driving license, or other proof of your identity. This is to protect your privacy.

If you do not need your number right away, you can also ask them to mail you a letter with your NHS number.

Tip: You do not need your NHS number to get medical care. However, you may need it to access some NHS services online, or order medicines online.

If you do not have a GP, ask your local Foundation Trust to see your number. Your NHS number is issued for life, but your GP can not be with you for a long time. If your GP has retired or is out of business and you do not have a GP yet, you can get it from your local Founding Trust.

To find the nearest fundamental trust, visit

Founding Trusts manage and maintain hospitals. If you have ever visited the hospital, then the Foundation Trust will have your NHS number on file.

You must submit a valid photo ID to verify your identity. You can also ask that your number be mailed to you.

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