Claiming free prescriptions?
If you claim free NHS prescriptions that you're not entitled to, you could be facing a penalty charge of up to £100 - as well as the original prescription charge(s). An additional charge of up to £50 may apply if you do not pay within the required timescale.
If you're not sure whether you qualify, please pay for your prescriptions and ask for an NHS receipt - you may be able to claim a refund later. Even if you don't currently qualify, this guide tells you what help could be available.
If you're sure that the NHS covers the cost of your prescriptions, please show proof of your entitlement to the pharmacy or practice staff before signing the patient declaration.
What entitles you to free prescriptions ?
Not all benefits entitle you to free prescriptions. You will have to pay for your prescription even if you are included in an award of:
- 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 other benefit paid on its own and not listed in the green box below (such as Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Incapacity Benefit etc.
The NHS will cover the cost of your prescriptions if, at the time the prescription is dispensed, you are included in an award of:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance paid on its own or with contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance paid on its own or with contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance
- Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit) paid on its own or with Pension Credit (Savings Credit)
-Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit including a disability element or Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.
Proving your entitlement
You can use an entitlement letter or award notice from either the Department of Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs, Jobcentre Plus or Pension Service as proof.
Medical exemption certificate
It's your responsibility to check whether you're entitled before you declare that you don't have to pay and the staff at your pharmacy or practice should ask to see proof of your exemption. Regular checks are carried out on prescriptions that are not paid for, which means you could be asked to provide proof at a later date.
The NHS will cover the cost of your prescriptions if you are:
- 60 or over
- under 16
- 16, 17 or 18 and in full-time educations
Students aged 19 and over are not automatically entitled to free prescriptions. However, many do qualify through the NHS Low Income Scheme, as explained as follows.
Providing your entitlement
You don't need to prove your age if your date of birth is printed on your prescription. If it isn't, you can use any official document that shows your date of birth as proof, such as your birth certificate or passport. A letter from your school or college proves you are in full-time education.
The NHS will cover the cost of your prescriptions if you have a valid exemption certificate.
Maternity exemption certificate
If you are pregnant or have had a baby within the last 12 months, the NHS will only cover the cost of your prescriptions if you have a maternity exemption certificate. You can apply for a certificate by asking your doctor, midwife or health visitor for an FW8 application form. The form tells you what to do.
Your certificate will be valid from one month before the date that we receive your application. It will expire the day before your baby's first birthday.