FAQ 4 – Am I eligible for free NHS prescriptions?

All NHS prescriptions are free if you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

You can get free NHS prescriptions in England if, at the time the prescription is dispensed, you:

  • are 60 or over
  • are under 16
  • are 16 to 18 and in full-time education
  • are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx)
  • have a specified medical condition and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
  • have a continuing physical disability that prevents you going out without help from another person and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
  • hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability
  • are an NHS inpatient

If you live in England you cannot cross the border into Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland to pick up a free NHS prescription. Free NHS prescriptions in these countries are only available to residents, or people who are registered to a GP within one of these countries.

You can apply for a medical exemption certificate if you have one of the following medical conditions:

  • a permanent fistula (for example, caecostomy, colostomy, laryngostomy or ileostomy) which needs continuous surgical dressing or an appliance
  • a form of hypoadrenalism (for example, Addison’s Disease) for which specific substitution therapy is essential
  • diabetes insipidus and other forms of hypopituitarism
  • diabetes mellitus, except where treatment is by diet alone
  • hypoparathyroidism
  • myasthenia gravis
  • myxoedema (that is, hypothyroidism which needs thyroid hormone replacement)
  • epilepsy which needs continuous anticonvulsive therapy
  • a continuing physical disability which means you cannot go out without the help of another person
  • cancer and are undergoing treatment for either
    – cancer
    – the effects of cancer
    – the effects of cancer treatment

These are the only conditions that entitle you to a medical exemption certificate. If you’re not sure about the name of your condition, speak to your doctor.

Read more about who can get free NHS prescriptions.

Use the eligibility checker.

Find out more about medical exemption certificates.

Prescription prepayment certificate (PPC)

If you know you’ll have to pay for a lot of NHS prescriptions, it may be cheaper to buy a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) – effectively a prescription “season ticket”.

There are 2 PPC options to choose from:

  1. The 3-month PPC costs £30.25 and will save you money if you need more than 3 prescribed items in 3 months.
  2. The 12-month PPC costs £108.10 and will save you money if you need more than 11 prescribed items in a year.

It’s quick and easy to buy a PPC online. The PPC will start from the day you submit your application unless you request a different start date, but the start date must be within 1 month before or after the date of your application.

England Infected Blood Support Scheme (EIBSS)

EIBSS support people historically infected with hepatitis C and/or HIV from NHS blood or blood products in England. They also help families, civil or long-term partners after the death of someone infected. 

EIBSS also help with Prescription Prepayment Certificate applications.

To make an application for a free 12-month prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) you must be registered with EIBSS.

Disclaimer:  The content of this page has been provided by nhs.uk and is for general information only. It is subject to change without notice.