General practitioner Practice manager England GP practices

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Patient registration for GP practices FAQs

The following FAQs offer additional advice to our guidance which aims to clarify the conditions surrounding patient registration in GP practices. 

The advice applies to GP primary care services in England only.

Read our guidance on patient registration in GP practices



  • Does the GPC guidance reflect a change in obligations for practices?

    No, the position has not changed. The guidance is based on the existing legislative framework and is aimed at reducing ambiguity, partly the result of the Department of Health and NHS England not issuing clear guidance themselves.


  • Does this mean that anyone, regardless of nationality and residential status, including tourists or those from abroad visiting friends or family in England, may register and consult with a GP?

    Yes and it also means that GP practices cannot charge for this, even if the patient is visiting and is not resident in the country, unless the person requesting general practice services chooses to be treated privately. They should be treated in exactly the same way as a UK resident.

    NHS England leaflet on how to register with a doctor (GP) for asylum seekers and refugees


  • What about patients who are in the country with no legal immigration status?

    Immigration status makes no difference, any person is still able to register with a GP practice and receive treatment. However practice staff do not have to make any assessment of immigration status or eligibility for NHS care. They are not expected to act as immigration officials.


  • What if I suspect that a patient is fraudulently trying to obtain treatment?

    GPs have very limited discretion under the GMS Regulations 2004 to refuse an application for registration. They may do so if they have 'reasonable grounds' which do not relate to the applicant's race, gender, social class, age, religion, sexual orientation, appearance, disability or medical condition. If they believe that someone is committing fraud they should inform NHS England or the CCG if they have commissioning responsibilities.


  • Should I register patients as temporary or permanent?

    Patients should be registered as a temporary resident if they are intending to reside in the practice area for more than 24 hours but less than 3 months. Otherwise they should be registered as permanent.


  • What about patients that require emergency and immediately necessary treatment?

    Practices have a contractual duty to provide emergency treatment and immediately necessary treatment free of charge for up to 14 days. There is no contractual definition of what constitutes emergency and immediately necessary treatment, but where a patient is visiting the country and not resident here, it will include treatment of new conditions and also pre-existing conditions that have become exacerbated during the period of a person's stay in England, subject to the contractor's clinical judgement.