Registering with your GP: understanding your rights

Find out more about your rights to access primary care, and what do to if you are refused the right to register with a GP.
lady in GP waiting room

Accessing a GP continues to be a common issue that people talk to their local Healthwatch about.

Using NHS guidelines, we have pulled together some answers to help you understand your rights when registering with your GP.

Do I need proof of address to register with my GP?

Having proof of where you live helps but NHS guidelines make clear that it is not necessary for you to have proof of address when registering with a GP. This also applies if you are an asylum seeker, refugee, a homeless patient or an overseas visitor, whether lawfully in the UK or not.

Do I need ID to register with my GP?

You do not have to provide identification (ID) when registering with a GP, but it is helpful to do so. Below is a list of documents that you can use as ID at a GP:

  • Passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Biometric residence permit
  • Travel document
  • HC2 certificate
  • ARC card
  • Utility bill

What could stop me from being able to register at my GP?

A GP must explain the reason for refusing a patient's request to register in writing. The GP has the right to refuse patients for one of the following reasons: 

  • The GP surgery 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 is a long way from where you live

More information

What to do if you are removed from the patient register, or refused the right to register

A GP has the right to remove you from their patient register in certain situations, including:

  • if you move out of the practice area
  • if you are physically or verbally abusive to people at the practice.

In most cases, the GP must give you a warning first, and provide you with the reasons for your removal from the register. You are entitled to emergency treatment, or the continuation of treatment which is occurring more than once a week, until you are accepted by another GP.

If you have been violent, or have threatened to be violent, towards your GP or practice staff, and the police have been informed, you can be removed immediately from the GP’s list. You will only be accepted for emergency treatment by the GP who has removed you if the GP is satisfied that it is clinically necessary.

A GP practice may refuse to register you as a new patient if they already have too many patients - you can ask for this to be explained in writing.

If you disagree with the GP's decision and wish to make a complaint - there are a number of ways:

By email (with 'for the attention of the complaints manager' in the subject line) 

By post: NHS England, P.O. Box 16738, Redditch, B97 9PT

By phone: 0300 311 2233 (Telephone Interpreter Service available)

Further information can be found from your local Citizens Advice or Healthwatch. This information can be made available in alternative formats, such as easy read or large print, and may be available in alternative languages upon request. To receive this, contact 0300 311 2233 or send an email to NHS England.

I want to change my GP practice, do I have to give a reason?

No, you don't have to tell your practice why you want to change, or your new one why you made that decision.

You will need to fill in a registration form. A request will then be made to your current GP for your medical records to be transferred to the new GP surgery.

For more information on how to register in practices further away from your residence, closer to your work, for example - read more here.

More information

NHS Patients' rights

Are you an asylum seeker, refugee, a homeless patient, or an overseas visitor (whether lawfully in the UK or not)? Download these leaflets to find out more about your rights to register with your GP:

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