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Last updated:
19/10/2018

Exemption certificates

  1. Overview
  2. How much do prescriptions cost?
  3. Low cost and free prescriptions
  4. Exemption certificates
  5. Next steps
Some groups of people can apply for exemption certificates that entitle them to free NHS prescriptions.

Some groups of people can apply for exemption certificates that entitle them to free NHS prescriptions. These are listed below:

Maternity Exemption Certificates

If you are pregnant or have had a baby in the last 12 months then you can apply for a maternity exemption certificate. You can apply by speaking to your doctor, midwife or health visitor. 

Tax Credit Exemption Certificates

If the 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, or
  • Working Tax Credit including a disability element

You do not have to apply for this exemption certificate. If you meet the conditions then you will automatically receive an NHS tax credit exemption certificate.

Medical Exemption Certificates

People with certain medical conditions can apply for a medical exemption certificate. The certificate means that all medications that you get on prescription will then be free of charge, whatever they are for. If you're entitled to a certificate because of your medical condition, your doctor will give you an application form.

War Pension Exemption Certificate

If you receive a war pension and you are under the age of 60 then you can apply for a war pension exemption certificate. This certificate will entitle you to free prescriptions that are only for your accepted disability. To apply for the certificate, you need to call the Veterans UK helpline on 0808 191 4218.

Section 117 Aftercare

If you have been in hospital under section 3, 37, 45A, 47 or 48 of the Mental Health Act 1983 you are entitled to section 117 after-care. Section 117 means that you will get free after-care when you leave hospital.

You will not automatically be given free prescriptions. You will need to speak to your Care Co-ordinator. They should be able to help you claim free prescriptions for any medication that is part of your section 117 aftercare.

NHS Low Income Scheme

If you are on a low income the NHS Low Income Scheme can help you to pay for your prescription charges.

The amount of help you’re entitled to depends on your household income and outgoings. Any help you’re entitled to is also available to your partner, if you have one.

You can't get help if you or your partner (or both) have more than: 

  • £16,000 in savings, investments or property (not including the place where you live) 
  • £23,250 in savings, investments or property if you live permanently in a care home.

Universal Credit

The rules about Universal Credit can be complicated. If you claim Universal Credit your entitlement to free NHS prescriptions depends on your earnings for the most recent assessment period. The ‘most recent assessment period’ means the assessment period that ended immediately before the date you claim free NHS prescriptions. It runs for one calendar month. 

You are entitled if your earnings during that period were:

  • £435 or less, or
  • £935 or less if your Universal Credit includes an element for either:
    • A child
    • Limited capability for work.

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

Not all prescription forms have a tick box on the back for Universal Credit. If that's the case, you should tick the box for income-based Jobseeker's Allowance instead.

You should take your Universal Credit award notice to prove your entitlement.

Refunds

If you are not sure if you meet the eligibility criteria then you should pay for your prescription. You can claim a refund once you're able to confirm your entitlement.

Make sure you ask for and keep receipts. If you pay for a prescription, you must get a receipt and refund form (FP57) at the time you pay, as you won't be able to get one later.

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  1. Overview
  2. How much do prescriptions cost?
  3. Low cost and free prescriptions
  4. Exemption certificates
  5. Next steps
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