Everyone registered with the NHS in England has his or her own unique NHS Number. Your NHS Number is printed on your medical card given to you when you register with a GP practice. Your NHS Number helps healthcare staff to find your health records. Each NHS Number is made up of 10 digits in a 3-3-4 format, shown like this: 450 557 7104 (this is an example number only).
If you have an old medical card, it will have an old style NHS Number made up of both letters and numbers. This has now been replaced for all patients by a new NHS Number made up entirely of numbers. Having the old style NHS Number will not affect your care.
Your NHS Number is unique to you. Using your NHS Number to identify you correctly is an important step towards improving the safety of your healthcare.
If you know your NHS Number, or can show your medical card, you can help healthcare staff find your records more easily and share them safely with others who are caring for you.
As an added safety measure, you can start checking the things the NHS sends you to make sure they have the right NHS Number.
No, it is not essential to know your NHS Number, but it can sometimes be helpful if you are able to give it to NHS staff that needs to find your health records.
No, your NHS Number is different from your National Insurance (NI) number, which is used for tax and pensions. If you have any questions about your NI number contact the local office of the Department of Work and Pensions. To find your local office, visit www.dwp.gov.uk.
If you want to know your NHS Number, or you have an old style number and want to know your new one.
Anyone who has registered with a GP practice in England, Wales or the Isle of Man will have an NHS Number. Also, since 2002 all babies born in England, Wales or the Isle of Man will automatically get an NHS Number.
If you were born before October 2002 and never registered with a GP practice then it's unlikely that you have an NHS Number. In that case, you should register with a GP practice as soon as possible. By visiting www.nhs.uk you will be able to find out about local GP practices or www.england.nhs.uk/contact-us/ may also be able to help.
If you are a visitor to this country and require NHS care, you will be allocated an NHS Number where it is possible to do so. In cases where the organisation is unable to allocate an NHS Number directly, you will be given a local number (for example a hospital number).
Having an NHS Number does not entitle you to free NHS treatment. For more information see the guide for overseas visitors to the UK.