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Maternity exemption certificates

A maternity exemption certificate entitles you to free NHS prescriptions.

You can also use the certificate as proof that you are entitled to free NHS dental treatment while you are pregnant.

Find out if you're entitled to help with other health costs using the NHS eligibility checker.

Who is entitled

You’re entitled to a maternity exemption certificate if, at the time of your application, you are pregnant or have given birth in the last 12 months.

How you can apply

Speak to your midwife, doctor or health visitor. They'll complete the application for you. They can do this as soon as they confirm that you’re pregnant.

If they use the digital maternity exemption service you can get your certificate by email as soon as they have completed the application.

Otherwise, you'll get a paper certificate in the post within 10 working days of us receiving your application.

How long it is valid for

When it starts

We will backdate the certificate to start one month before the date we receive your application.

If your certificate covers the date you collect your items, you can get your NHS prescriptions for free.

Mark box ‘D’ on the prescription form and sign the declaration.

You may need to show your certificate as evidence that your exemption is valid. You can still collect your NHS prescription for free if you do not have your certificate with you.

When it expires

Your certificate will expire 12 months after either:

  • your due date
  • the birth of your baby

If your baby is born later than expected, contact us with a copy of their birth certificate. We will extend the expiry date and send you a new certificate. 

If you have a maternity exemption certificate, check if it’s valid.

Claiming refunds

NHS prescription charges

You may get an NHS prescription charge refund if:

  • you get an NHS refund form (FP57) when you pay - you cannot get one later
  • your maternity exemption certificate covers the date you paid for your NHS prescription

The FP57 tells you how to claim. 

You need to apply for a refund within three months of paying the prescription charge.

NHS Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC) fees

If you hold a valid PPC, you may be entitled to a refund. Read the HC11 booklet (PDF: 270KB) for details of PPC refund arrangements.

How to report a change in details or an error

Make sure the details on the certificate are correct and are kept up to date. 

If you change your name, you’ll need a new certificate. Return the certificate to us with a copy of either your:

  • marriage certificate
  • civil partnership certificate
  • deed poll
  • passport
  • decree absolute 

If you change address or notice any errors on your certificate, contact us.

Lost or damaged certificates

If you lose or damage your certificate, contact us. We can send you a replacement. 

Miscarriage or stillbirth

You’re entitled to a maternity exemption certificate if, at the time of your application, you either:

  • were pregnant 
  • had given birth to a live child or a child registerable as stillborn within the previous 12 months

If you miscarry or your baby is stillborn, you can continue to use your certificate for free NHS prescriptions until it expires. 

You may need to pay NHS dental charges.