how to register with a gp & access healthcare while homeless

Being registered with a GP is an important step to getting help with your physical and mental health. Find out how to find and register with a GP, whether you’re experiencing homelessness or not.


Everyone living in the UK should be registered with a GP. General practitioners provide advice, prescribe medicines and refer you to specialist services.

You never know when you might need medical care or mental health support, so we strongly advise you to register with a surgery close to where you’re staying.

find a gp in 3 easy steps:

  • Find a GP surgery close to you using the NHS GP Finder.
  • Go on their website and follow the practice’s registration instructions OR find the address of the GP surgery and go in person.
  • The GP practice will give you a form to fill in (known as a GMS form) and ask for ID and proof of address. If you don’t have one or both of these, submit the form anyway and let the GP practice know.

If you’re currently homeless, try and explain this to the surgery in advance of filling in the form, by phone, email or in person.

You should not be refused NHS care because you do not have a proof of address or ID. It doesn’t matter if you’re an asylum seeker, a refugee, homeless or in the country illegally.

tips for registering with a gp:

you do not have to provide ID when registering with a GP, but it is helpful to do so.

Your GP surgery will most likely ask you for several forms of ID and proof of address when you sign-up, but it is possible to register without ID and proof of address.

having at least one of these forms of ID will make the process quicker and easier for you:

  • Passport
  • Drivers licence or provisional licence
  • Birth certificate
  • HC2 certificate
  • Rough sleepers’ identity badge
  • Hostel registration
  • CitizenCard

it’s free to register with an NHS GP.

You never have to pay for a GP appointment in the UK, once you’re registered.

you have the legal right to choose a GP practice that best suits your needs.

Often this is about proximity to where you live, but there are many valid reasons you could choose one GP surgery over another.

your GP practice cannot refuse to register you without good reason.

A GP practice may refuse to register you because:

  • it has no capacity to take on new patients
  • it may not be accepting patients that do not live within its practice boundary
  • in your particular circumstances, it may not be appropriate for you to register with a practice that’s a long way from where you live.

Your GP cannot refuse you based on race, gender, social class, age, religion, sexual orientation, appearance, disability or a medical condition.

If your GP surgery does have legitimate ground to refuse your application, it must also give you reasons for its decision in writing.

how do I find a gp practice close to me?

Click on the link below to find a practice near you. All you need is the postcode of where you’re currently staying. If you’re NFA, use your most recent postcode or a postcode nearby to where you are. Sometimes GP surgeries only accept people who are located within a certain distance from the surgery.

If you’re currently homeless, let your GP practice know that you’re ‘of no fixed abode’ or staying near their practice on a temporary basis. You do not need proof of address to register with a local GP without proof of address.

stuff you should know about accessing healthcare in the UK:

prescriptions are free if you’re registered with a GP in Scotland OR you have a HC2 certificate.
A HC2 certificate is given to people on low incomes and entitles you to free prescriptions, free eye tests and free dental care.

you have the right to ask for a female GP.
If, for whatever reason, you’d be more comfortable with a female GP, you can ask. Currently, there is no NHS guidance around requesting a GP of another gender but if this is important to you, it’s worth asking.

you should be treated with respect and dignity.

  • You should be able to share your gender identity, sexual identity and sexual history without fear of judgement.
  • If you feel a health professional has been discriminatory in any way, you have the right to make a formal complaint.
  • You can ask for a second opinion if you feel a health professional does not understand your needs.
  • You can ask to discuss your health issues and personal details in a quiet and confidential place at the GP surgery.

your details should always be kept confidential and safe by the GP.
Doctor/patient confidentiality is a real thing. Your doctor should seek your consent before sharing your medical history with anyone outside your healthcare team, including your parents or guardians.

you are entitled to choose a GP practice that best suits your needs.
Often this is about proximity to where you live, but there are many valid reasons you could choose one GP surgery over another.

nhs services have a duty to refer you if you’re concerned about being homeless after an admission
If you’re in hospital and you’re worried about being homeless once you are discharged, then speak to a professional in the hospital as soon as you can. They have a duty to refer you to the council for an assessment. This is true for A&E admissions, walk-in centres and all in-patient services.

You can find out more about getting help from the council if you’re threatened with or experiencing homelessness via this resource from Shelter.

We know that accessing healthcare can be stressful as an LGBTQ+ person, especially when you’re experiencing homelessness. In this resource, you’ll find out what your rights are, and how to access walk-in clinics and services that can help.

the law and your right to healthcare

Your right to healthcare is outlined clearly within the law. You do not have to have a current address in order to access a GP. As long as you are within their practice area, and they are not at capacity, then you can register with them. A GP cannot deny healthcare because you are homeless, do not have proof of address or identification, or because of your immigration status and if they are unable to take you on as a patient in their area, they must explain this in writing.

tip: bring identification if you have it

If you are accessing these walk-in centres, you do not need to bring anything with you although ID can be helpful. Many walk-in centres will also be willing to provide a letter for you to give your GP, as proof of a temporary residence.