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Penalty charges - don't get caught out

If you're claiming free prescriptions or dental treatment don't assume you're automatically covered. Always check before you claim.

Claiming free prescriptions?

You're only entitled to claim if you meet the following requirements: 

Age

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

  • under 16
  • 16, 17, or 18 and in full-time education
  • 60 or over

Students aged 19 and over aren’t automatically entitled to free prescriptions, but can apply for help through the NHS Low Income Scheme.

Certain benefits

Not all benefits entitle you to claim free prescriptions. Check which type of benefit you get before you tick the back of your prescription.

You're entitled to free prescriptions if you are named on a claim for:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit) paid on its own, or Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit with Savings Credit)
  • certain Tax Credits (read the NHS Tax Credit Exemption certificate information)
  • Universal Credit - but only if your earnings in your last assessment period were £435 or less, or £935 or less if you get an element for a child or have limited capability for work

You're not entitled to free prescriptions if you are named on a claim for:

  • contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance, paid on its own
  • contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance, paid on its own   
  • Pension Credit (Savings Credit), paid on its own
  • any benefit paid on its own and not in the above 'list of entitled benefits' (such as Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Incapacity Payment) 

A valid certificate

You’re entitled to free NHS prescriptions if you have one of these certificates and it is still valid.

NHS maternity exemption certificate

If you’re pregnant or have given birth in the previous 12 months you can claim free prescriptions, but only if you have a valid maternity exemption certificate. Ask your doctor, midwife or health visitor how to apply.

Maternity exemption certificates are valid for 12 months after your baby’s due date or date of birth. It is your responsibility to check that it is still in date and has not expired.

NHS medical exemption certificate

If you have a medical condition or physical disability, you are only entitled to claim free prescriptions if you have a valid medical exemption certificate.

To find out if your condition will qualify you for a certificate, check the full list of accepted conditions or check with your doctor. If you’re eligible for a medical exemption certificate, ask your doctor how to apply.

NHS Tax Credit Exemption Certificate

You will automatically be sent this certificate if your annual family income used to work out your tax credits is £15,276 or less and you get:

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

An NHS Tax Credit Exemption Certificate is valid for up to 7 months. Your partner and any young people included in your claim will be entitled to free prescriptions while your certificate is valid. Find out more about Tax Credit Exemption Certificates.

HC2 certificate (full help with health costs)

If you have applied to the NHS Low Income Scheme and been issued with an HC2 certificate you are entitled to free prescriptions.

Your partner and any dependant children under 19 named on your claim will also be entitled to free prescriptions while the certificate is valid. Make sure you know when the certificate expires.

An HC3 certificate (partial help with health costs) does not entitle you to free prescriptions.

Find out more about the NHS Low Income Scheme and how to apply.

War pension exemption certificate

If you have a war pension exemption certificate, you are entitled to free prescriptions that relate to your accepted disability.

To apply for a certificate, contact Veterans UK on 0808 1914 218.

 

Claiming free dental treatment?

You're only entitled to claim if you meet the following requirements: 

Age

You’re entitled to free NHS dental treatment if you are:

  • under 18 years old
  • aged 18 and in full-time education

Certain benefits

Not all benefits entitle you to claim free prescriptions. Check which type of benefit you get before you tick the back of your prescription.

You're only entitled to free dental treatment if you're named on a claim for:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit)
  • Universal Credit – but only if your earnings in your last assessment period were £435 or less, or £935 or less if you get an element for a child or have limited capability for work

You're not entitled to free dental treatment if you're named on a claim for:

  • contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, paid on its own
  • contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance, paid on its own
  • Pension Credit (Savings Credit), paid on its own
  • any benefit paid on its own and not in the above 'list of entitled benefits' (such as Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Incapacity Benefit)

A valid certificate

You’re entitled to free NHS dental treatment if you have one of these certificates and it is still valid.

HC2 (full help with health costs)

If you have applied to the NHS Low Income Scheme and been issued with an HC2 or HC2W certificate you are entitled to free dental treatment, while the certificate is valid. Make sure you know when the certificate expires.

Find out more about the NHS Low Income Scheme and how to apply.

NHS Tax Credit Exemption Certificate

You will automatically be sent this certificate if your annual family income used to work out your tax credits is £15,276 or less and you get:

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

An NHS Tax Credit Exemption Certificate is valid for up to 7 months. Your partner and any young people included in your claim will be entitled to free dental treatment while your certificate is valid. Find out more about Tax Credit Exemption Certificates.

Pregnant or have given birth in the previous 12 months

You're entitled to free dental treatment if you are pregnant or have given birth in the 12 months before your dental treatment starts.

 

Make sure the right box is ticked

It is your responsibility to make sure the correct box is ticked on the back of your prescription or dental treatment claim form. Whether it is ticked by:

  • you
  • someone on your behalf
  • pharmacy or dental practice staff