Skip to main content Skip to footer

Free NHS prescriptions

Some groups are automatically entitled to free NHS prescriptions. Others can apply for certificates that entitle them to free NHS prescriptions.

Some prescribed items are always free, including contraceptives and medication given to hospital inpatients. Your prescriber can give you more information.

Age

You’re entitled to free NHS prescriptions if you’re:

  • Under 16
  • Aged 16-18 and in full time education
  • Aged 60 or over

If your date of birth is printed electronically on your prescription, you don’t need to provide proof of your age when claiming free prescriptions. If you’re 16, 17 or 18, you may need to show proof that you’re in full time education.

Benefits

Income-based benefits

You are automatically entitled to free NHS prescriptions if you’re included in award for:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

If you’re getting one of these benefits, your partner and any dependent young people under 20 are also entitled to free NHS prescriptions.

Use your award notice as proof that you’re entitled.

You're also entitled to:

free NHS dental treatmentfree NHS sight testsfree NHS wigs and fabric supportshelp with the cost of glasses or contact lensesrefunds of necessary travel costs to receive NHS treatment

Contribution-based benefits

If you’re receiving contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance, you are not automatically entitled to free NHS prescriptions. However, you could apply for help through the NHS Low Income Scheme.

Pension Credits

You’re entitled to free NHS prescriptions if you or your partner gets:

  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit or
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit with Savings Credit.

You're also entitled to:

free NHS dental treatmentfree NHS sight testsfree NHS wigs and fabric supportshelp with the cost of glasses or contact lensesrefunds of necessary travel costs to receive NHS treatment

If you get Pension Credit Savings Credit on its own, you are not automatically entitled to free NHS prescriptions. However, you could apply for help through the NHS Low Income Scheme.

Universal Credit

If you’re getting Universal Credit, your entitlement to free NHS prescriptions depends on your earnings for the most recent assessment period. You’re entitled if your earnings during that period were:

  • £435 or less
  • £935 or less if your Universal Credit includes an element for either:
    • a child
    • limited capability for work

‘Most recent assessment period’ means the assessment period that ended immediately before the date you claim free NHS prescriptions. It runs for a calendar month.

If you claim Universal Credit as a couple, the earnings limit applies to the joint income of you and your partner.

The patient declaration on the prescription form does not yet include Universal Credit. You should tick the Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance box and show your Universal Credit award notice as proof that you’re entitled.

If you meet the conditions,

You're also entitled to:

free NHS dental treatmentfree NHS sight testsfree NHS wigs and fabric supportshelp with the cost of glasses or contact lensesrefunds of necessary travel costs to receive NHS treatment

Tax credits

You are entitled to free NHS prescriptions if your annual family income used to work out your tax credits is £15,276 or less and you receive either:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit paid together
  • Working Tax Credit including a disability element

If you meet these conditions, you will automatically receive an NHS tax credit exemption certificate.

NHS tax credit exemption certificates

Pregnant women and those who have had a baby in the last 12 months

If you are pregnant or have had a baby in the last 12 months, you are only entitled to free NHS prescriptions if you have a valid maternity exemption certificate. Show your certificate as proof that you’re entitled. 

Maternity exemption certificates

Medical conditions

You can only get free NHS prescriptions because of your medical condition if you have a valid medical exemption certificate. Show your certificate as proof that you’re entitled.

Medical exemption certificates

Low income (including students and pensioners)

You can get free NHS prescriptions if you have a valid HC2 certificate. These certificates are issued to people who qualify for full help with health costs through the NHS Low Income Scheme

HC2 certificates

HC3 certificates for limited help with health costs do not entitle you to free NHS prescriptions.

War pensioners

You can get free NHS prescriptions if you have a valid war pension exemption certificate and your prescription is for your accepted disability.

You're also entitled to free NHS wigs and fabric supports if they relate to your accepted disability and you have a valid war pension exemption certificate.

You can claim money back for dental treatment, NHS travel costs, sight test, glasses or contact lenses if the treatment is for your accepted disability. Write to:

The Treatment Group
Veterans UK
Norcross
Blackpool
FY5 3WP

Or phone: 0808 1914218

Don’t run the risk

It’s your own responsibility to check that you’re entitled before claiming free prescriptions. If you claim free prescriptions that you’re not entitled to, you could have to pay a penalty charge of up to £100.

If you’re not currently entitled to free prescriptions

You could save money with a prescription prepayment certificate. Or, if you have a low income you may qualify for help through the NHS Low Income Scheme.