Welcome pack for New Scots

The New Scots vision is “For a welcoming Scotland where refugees and asylum seekers are able to rebuild their lives from the day they arrive”.


Healthcare in Scotland is provided free of charge by Scotland's National public health service (NHS). Everyone who is a resident in Scotland is entitled to access health care. This includes displaced people, refugees, asylum seekers and people whose claim for asylum has been refused. As a New Scot you are entitled to:

  • register with a GP
  • access emergency health services
  • register with a dentist
  • have eye tests
  • access specialist healthcare. This includes maternity care, mental health services and any other services for specific conditions.

Read more information on NHS Scotland.

The NHS Inform website also has information about access to healthcare for refugees and asylum seekers, including translated factsheets.

In an emergency

NHS 24 is Scotland's telephone service providing health advice 24 hours a day. The telephone service allows people who feel unwell or those caring for them to obtain health advice if it is not possible to wait until they can contact their GP when the practice is next open. You can call them on 111 if you are ill or need any health services.

The advice line is not intended as a substitute for obtaining an emergency ambulance service. For all life-threatening emergencies you should always call 999.

You will find more information on all health-related topics including dental care, smoking, alcohol, food and nutrition and mental wellbeing on the NHS inform website.

Registering with a GP

When settled in a place of residence in Scotland you and your family should register with a local doctor – a General Practitioner (GP). To register with a general medical practice (GP practice) you'll need to complete a registration form which is available from your GP surgery or can be downloaded. Children under 16 should be registered by a parent or guardian, but do not have to be registered with the same GP as the rest of their family.

The completed form should be handed in or emailed to the surgery and you may then be asked for proof of ID (identity), such as passport, or proof of address. When your registration has been received by the GP practice you will be notified, either by telephone or email to advise if your application to register has been successful.

You can change your GP at any time without having to give a reason by completing a new registration form with your new GP surgery. When you have registered with a new GP, you will no longer be registered with the old one. You can then make an appointment to see the new GP immediately.

Your GP will be able to care for your health conditions and to provide treatment if you become unwell. Any prescriptions prescribed by your GP are free of charge. Read more about Registering with a GP practice.

Registering with a dentist

You and your family can get care, advice and treatment from NHS Scotland to keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy. Scotland also provides free dental checks. You can find a dentist near you on Receiving NHS dental treatment in Scotland.

NHS eye care

Scotland is the only country in the UK to provide free universal NHS-funded eye examinations. These are available to anyone ordinarily resident in the UK and to eligible overseas visitors. In some cases, the NHS will also give an optical voucher towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses. Read your guide to free NHS eye examinations in Scotland.

Connecting communities

The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland is a third sector organisation which helps connect people with local sources of support that will enable them to manage their own health conditions more effectively. Read more in Connecting you to your community.

Mental health

NHS Scotland provides mental health services that offer a range of treatments and self-help advice for those experiencing mild, moderate or more complex mental health problems.

NHS Trauma Informed provides support for those affected by trauma.

It is only natural to feel anxious or worried as you settle into a new life here in Scotland. Also Clear Your Head offers guidance on how to improve your mental wellbeing and Breathing Space is a free, confidential support service available for those wishing to speak to someone about how they are feeling.

Councils should provide advice and referrals to specialist public health services as appropriate e.g. mental health services, adult social care and children's services. Further advice will be provided in due course.

Adult social care

Adult social care is support offered to people who may benefit from a degree of extra help by trained professionals to help them live as comfortably and independently as possible. This may be because of a physical disability, or learning disability, or other impairment which prevents people from being active citizens. The support you can get is varied, and will be based on the degree, and type of support you require. Your local authority will discuss your needs with you first, and if you are eligible for social care support, they will work with you to find the right level of support.

Social care is regulated, to ensure that the standards of care offered are high quality, responsive and person centred.

You can find all information in the following link in relation to Scotland's social care.

Sexual health/family planning clinics

NHS Scotland provides free sexual health services in Scotland. All genders can access professional and non-judgmental care on all family planning conception information, relationships and sexual health advice or you can also visit your local GP.

Parent Club Scotland

Parent Club offers up-to-date guidance on your child's health and education. It's full of hints and tips from other parents and carers who've been there before. It also has advice to help you look after your own wellbeing and to point you in the direction of the support available

Scotland's baby box

Every baby born and resident in Scotland is entitled to a free baby box which is full of baby essentials from birth to 6 months.

See further information on Scotland's Baby Box.

Health visiting

Every family in Scotland with a child below school age will benefit from Scotland's health visiting service. This is a series of home visits from a specially trained nurse known as a health visitor. These home visits start at pre-birth and end just before a child goes to school. However, anyone settling in Scotland with a child below school age will receive visits at an appropriate time.

Health Visitors will monitor and promote the health and wellbeing of your child as well as providing advice and support to parents and the wider family.

Women's health

In Scotland, we are working to address women's health inequalities by raising awareness around women's health, to improve access to health care for women across their life course and to reduce inequalities in health outcomes for girls and women.

Useful, women's only, information is included in the following links - Sexual Health Scotland, with more details covering specific health issues under the Get help tab, as well as a Guide to Sexual Health detailing services and advice which is available in your area.

Menstrual flow: period products

In Scotland, it is fine to talk about your period and it is important not to feel ashamed or embarrassed about it.

Scotland has become the first country in the world to provide free and universal access to period products; such as sanitary pads, tampons and re-usable period products.

Local authorities and education providers must make period products accessible and free of charge for anyone who needs them. This means that all schools, colleges and universities must make these items available in their toilets, for free.

Cervical screening: smear tests

Cervical screening, also known as 'smear test', provides all women between the ages of 25 and 64 the opportunity to be screened every 3 to 5 years. If you are registered with a GP, a letter will be sent to you when your cervical screening appointment is due.

The cervical screening, or smear test, involves a soft brush being touched onto the cervix (neck of the womb) which picks up a tiny sample. The screening is done by your female GP or a nurse. The screening can pick up very early changes in the cervix that could become cancerous if left untreated.

Breast screening

All women between 50 and 71 can be screened every 3 years for breast cancer. This screening helps detect any problems and enables early action to be taken. This reduces the number of deaths from breast cancer. The test consists of an X-Ray to look for cancers that are too small to see or feel.

The menopause

The menopause is when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally. This usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55, but for some can happen earlier.

During this time your period will become less frequent and you may miss several months bleeding at a time. You can still get pregnant whilst bleeding at this time.

The menopause can cause symptoms including irregular periods, hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, disturbed sleep, brain fog, low sex drive, vaginal dryness and joint aches.

If you are experiencing problems with menopause, you can speak to your GP or nurse.

NHS Information provides more information about the menopause.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and reproductive health

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are passed on from one person to another through unprotected sex or genital contact. They can have a range of symptoms, but they can also be present without any symptoms for many years.

Symptoms may include:

  • unusual discharge from the vagina or anus
  • pain when urinating
  • unusual vaginal bleeding
  • lumps around the genitals or anus
  • itchiness around genitals or anus

If you are worried you might have an STI, don't have sex, including oral sex, without a condom, and contact a sexual health service as soon as you can.

Sexual health services are free and available to everyone in Scotland. You can find your nearest clinic.


Contraception is a way to prevent pregnancy and it is free in Scotland. Examples of contraception are:

  • condoms
  • oral contraception pills
  • long acting reversible contraception's e.g. the implant or IUD (intrauterine device)

You can contact your GP or family planning clinic for access to contraception. You can also visit pharmacies for advice on contraception and for emergency access to contraception.


Abortion is the termination of pregnancy and is legal in Scotland. It is available free of charge on NHS Scotland. Abortion care and related support, including interpreters where needed, can be accessed through your local abortion service.

In Scotland there is plenty of support if you are not ready to have a child or have an unwanted pregnancy. This situation can be very difficult and emotional for any woman.


Email: ceu@gov.scot

Back to top