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Maternity exemption certificates

If you’re pregnant or have given birth in the last 12 months, you are entitled to:

  • free NHS dental treatment
  • free NHS prescriptions if you have a valid maternity exemption certificate

A maternity exemption certificate:

  • entitles you to free prescriptions
  • can be used to prove your entitlement to free NHS dental treatment

How to apply

To apply, you need to speak to your midwife, doctor or health visitor. You can apply as soon as they confirm that you’re pregnant.

We’ll backdate your certificate so it’s valid from one month before we receive your application.

You can get a digital certificate if you're taking part in the digital maternity exemption pilot. Otherwise, you'll get your paper certificate in the post within 10 working days of us receiving your application.

We no longer send plastic cards as they are costly for the NHS and the environment. You can read our exemption certificate article for more information.

When it expires

Your certificate will expire 12 months after either:

  • your due date
  • the birth of your baby

If your baby is born later than expected, you can extend the expiry date.

It’s your responsibility to check the expiry date. If you claim free prescriptions and your certificate has expired, you may have to pay a penalty charge of up to £100.

Refund of prescription charges

If you’ve applied for a maternity exemption certificate and pay prescription charges while waiting for it to arrive, you can get a refund as long as:

  • you get an NHS refund form (FP57) when you pay, as you can’t get one later
  • the certificate covers the date you paid for your prescription

Your certificate will be backdated by a month from the date we receive your application.

You must claim your refund within 3 months of paying your prescription charge.

The FP57 includes guidance on what to do next.

Replacement certificates

If you lose or damage your certificate, we can send you a replacement. You will receive your replacement certificate within 10 working days.

Contact us

Change of name or address

If your address changes, please contact us so we can update our records.

If your name changes, we'll update your certificate.

You'll need to send us your certificate.

You'll also need to send us a copy of either your:

  • marriage certificate
  • civil partnership certificate
  • deed poll
  • passport
  • Decree Absolute

Our address is:

NHS Help with Health Costs
NHS Business Services Authority
Bridge House
152 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 6SN 

Miscarriage or stillbirth

If you miscarry or your baby is stillborn, you can continue to use your certificate for free NHS prescriptions until it expires.

You may need to pay NHS dental charges.

Extending your certificate

The expiry date on your certificate is based on the due date or date of birth provided by your midwife or doctor.

If your baby is born later than its expected due date, we can extend the expiry date.

You will need to write to us, including a copy of your baby’s birth certificate, at:

NHS Help with Health Costs
NHS Business Services Authority
Bridge House
152 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 6SN 

Check if your certificate is valid

If you have a maternity exemption certificate, you can check if it's still valid or will expire soon.