Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS)

If you're referred to hospital or other NHS premises for specialist NHS treatment or diagnostic tests by your doctor, dentist or another primary care health professional, you may be able to claim a refund of reasonable travel costs under the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS). Visits to GP surgeries and dentists for routine care, as well as most emergency department attendances, are not included.

This section explains who's eligible for the scheme and how to make a claim.

To qualify for help with travel costs under the HTCS, you must meet 3 conditions:

  1. At the time of your appointment, you or your partner (including civil partners) must receive one of the qualifying benefits or allowances listed on this page, or meet the eligibility criteria for the NHS Low Income Scheme.
  2. You must have a referral from a healthcare professional to a specialist or a hospital for further NHS treatment or tests (often referred to as secondary care).
  3. Your appointment must be on a separate visit to when the referral was made. This applies whether your treatment is provided at a different location (hospital or clinic) or on the same premises as where your GP or another health professional issued the referral.

You can claim travel costs for your children if you're eligible for any of the benefits described under condition 1 and your child has been referred for treatment as outlined in condition 2 and condition 3.

If your child is aged 16 or over, they may make their own claim under the Low Income Scheme.

You can claim travel costs for an escort if your health professional says it's medically necessary for someone to travel with you.

These payments are made on the basis of the patient's eligibility for the scheme, irrespective of the escort's eligibility.

You cannot claim help with travel costs if you're visiting someone in hospital.

You also cannot claim if you're visiting your local GP, dentist or another primary care service provider for routine check-ups or other services, such as vaccinations or cervical cancer screening, as these are excluded from the scheme.

Urgent primary care services during out-of-hours periods (between 6.30pm and 8pm on weekdays, weekends or bank holidays) are also excluded.

You can claim help with travel costs if you or your partner (including civil partner) receive any of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit (WTC) with Child Tax Credit (CTC)
  • WTC with a disability element or a severe disability element
  • CTC but you're not eligible for WTC
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • you receive Universal Credit and meet the criteria

You can also claim for help with travel costs if:

  • you're named on, or entitled to, an NHS tax credit exemption certificate (if you do not have a certificate, you can show your award notice) – you qualify if you get child tax credits, working tax credits with a disability element (or both), and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less
  • you have a low income and are named on certificate HC2 (full help) or HC3 (limited help) – to apply for this certificate, you should complete the HC1 form: claim for help with health costs, which is available from your local hospital, Jobcentre Plus offices or the NHS print contract order line on 0300 123 0849

Patients who are not in receipt of a qualifying benefit, but are on a low income, and whose savings are less than £16,000 (or £23,500 if in a care home) may be eligible for assistance with their NHS travel expenses.

If you qualify, you will be entitled to a full or partial refund of necessary travel costs equivalent to the cheapest reasonable method of travel, which in most cases will be public transport. Taxi fares will not normally be paid unless agreed in advance.  You'll also be able to claim for unavoidable car parking and toll charges.

If you travelled by car and your claim was approved, you'll be reimbursed for the cost of fuel at the mileage rate used by your local clinical commissioning group (CCG).

You are expected to pay for your travel and claim back the costs within 3 months.

You should take your travel receipts, appointment letter or card, plus proof that you're receiving one of the qualifying benefits, to the General Office to claim your travel costs.  There your claim will be assessed and any payments will be made directly to you.

If you are unable to make a claim on the day you attend, you may be able to return for a cash payment at a later date. Alternatively you can complete a HC5(T) claim travel charges form, available from General Office, and post it to the address stated on the form.  You can make a postal claim up to 3 months after your appointment took place. Please note refunds paid in this way take several weeks to process.