Prescriptions Charges and Exemptions

Most adults in England have to pay prescription charges.

Some items are always free, including contraceptives and medicines prescribed for hospital inpatients.

For further details on Prescription charges please visit the NHS website.

Once you are 19 you will not automatically be eligible for free prescriptions. You can apply for a low-income exemption certificate by filling in form HC1. This form is available from reception, Student Welfare, Post Offices or the Social Security. If you have frequent medications and are not entitled to free prescriptions you may want to consider buying a prepayment certificate. Ask at a pharmacy or Post Office for details.

Extensive exemption and remission arrangements protect those likely to have difficulty in paying charges (NHS prescription and dental charges, optical and hospital travel costs).

The NHS prescription charge is a flat-rate amount which successive Governments have thought it reasonable to charge for those who can afford to pay for their medicines. Prescription prepayment certificates (PPCs) offer real savings for people who need extensive medication.

A prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) could save you money on NHS prescription costs.

Find out how to save money with a PPC

You can get free NHS prescriptions 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

You may also entitled to free prescriptions if you or your partner (including civil partner) are in receipt of certain benefits. There is further information about prescription exemptions and fees on the NHS website.