Boots pharmacy – Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any questions about ordering prescriptions from Boots, our list of Frequently Asked Questions should help you find the answer

What is an NHS prescription?

An NHS prescription is issued by a prescriber, such as a doctor, on behalf of the NHS. In England, as of 1 April 2017, the NHS has set a charge of £8.60 per item on your prescription, unless you’re exempt from payment. Occasionally, a single item may incur multiple charges; these are defined by the NHS. 

We’ll let you know if this is the case.

There are no NHS prescription charges in Scotland and Wales but if you’re ordering a prescription from us online, and choose to have it delivered to your home or a post office, you may have to pay. This is because we dispense our prescriptions in England so the English payment rules apply. 

Prescription items from Northern Ireland are always free. 

What is a private prescription?

In some cases, you may be given a private rather than an NHS prescription by a prescribing healthcare professional such as a dentist or a doctor. There are no payment exemptions for private prescriptions, so you’ll always need to pay. Charges for private prescriptions vary depending on the medicines.

If you’ve ordered your private prescription online and the total cost of your order is over £45, you’ll get free delivery for your medicines. If your order is less than £45 there will be an additional £3.50 charge for delivery.

What is a one-off prescription?

A one-off prescription is issued by a doctor to treat a specific medical condition with medicine for a short period of time. For example, this might be an antibiotic to treat an infection, or a painkiller to help with pain from an injury. You can order these medicines by sending us your prescription after you’ve signed up to use the Boots online prescription service, or by visiting one of our pharmacies. 

What is a repeat prescription?

A repeat prescription is issued by a prescribing healthcare professional like a doctor, usually for medical conditions which need to be treated for a long period of time.  This includes long-term conditions like diabetes.  Your prescriber may allow you to request another prescription without having to see them each time you need more medicine. They do this by authorising repeated supplies of the medicine over a specific time period, until a set review date. 

Prescription charges

How much do NHS prescriptions cost?

If you live in England and pay for your NHS prescription, you’ll pay the standard cost of each prescription item in England, which is £8.60 as of 1 April 2017. 

If you live in Scotland:

  • Your prescription is free if you collect it from a Scottish store regardless of whether you order it online or in store
  • You may be charged if your prescription is delivered to your home or a post office, unless one of the English exemption criteria for payment applies to you. This is because our internet/online pharmacy is based in England, so the NHS prescription charges and rules for England will apply

If you live in Wales:

  • Your prescription is free if you collect it from a Welsh store regardless of whether you order it online or in store
  • You may be charged if your prescription is delivered to your home or a post office, unless one of the English exemption criteria for payment applies to you. This is because our internet/online pharmacy is based in England, so the NHS prescription charges and rules for England will apply

Northern Ireland prescriptions are always free.

Occasionally, a single item may incur multiple charges as defined by the NHS.  We’ll let you know if this is the case.

If you have any further queries about prescription prices, please speak to your local Boots pharmacist or, for online orders, call our pharmacy team on 0845 121 9040.

Can I order prescription items that are exempt from charges (eg contraceptives) online?

If you’re exempt from paying for your NHS prescriptions, you can still place an online order without having to pay. If you’re in England, if you collect your medicines at one of our pharmacies, you’ll need to bring proof of your exemption, like a certificate. If your medicine is delivered to you, the NHS may contact you for proof of your exemption.

If you’re in Scotland or Wales see ‘how much do NHS prescriptions cost?’ above for more information on prescription charges. 

Who gets free prescriptions?

In England, certain groups of people don’t have to pay for NHS prescriptions including those who:

  • Are under 16 
  • Are 16, 17 or 18 and in full-time education 
  • Are 60 years old or over 
  • Are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx) 
  • Have a specified medical condition and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
  • Have a valid prescription pre-payment certificate
  • Have a valid war payment exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability
  • Are named on a current HC2 certificate
  • Were prescribed contraceptives
  • Have a continuing physical disability that prevents you from going out without help from another person and have a valid MedEx
  • Get Income support 
  • Get Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance 
  • Are entitled to or named on a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • Have a partner who gets Pension Credit Guarantee Credit 

The reasons for exemption are also listed on the back of your prescription form. Your local Boots pharmacy team will be happy to help you understand these exemptions. You can find your nearest Boots pharmacy using our store locator.

If you are in Scotland or Wales, your NHS prescriptions are free unless you order online with us and have it delivered to your home or nearest post office. See ‘how much do NHS prescriptions cost?’ for more information.

In Northern Ireland prescriptions are always free.

I live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland where NHS prescription charges are different. How does this affect Boots online prescription services?

You can still use the Boots Repeat NHS Prescription Online Service to order your medicines online but if you choose home or post office delivery we must follow the English payment rules because we dispense our prescriptions in England. This means charging £8.60 per item, unless you meet the English payment exemption criteria listed above. 

If you collect your medicines from one of our pharmacies in Scotland or Wales you won’t have to pay for your medicines. 

If you are from Northern Ireland you won’t have to pay for your prescription items, regardless of how they are delivered to you. 

Payment

If I pay for my prescriptions, when will payment be taken?

The point at which we’ll take payment depends on the delivery method you choose.

If you choose to collect your order from a post office, or have it delivered to you, we’ll take your payment details when you place the order. However, we’ll not charge you until your medicines are despatched. 

If you collect your order from one of our pharmacies, we’ll take payment when you collect your medicines.

Online prescription services

Can I get an NHS prescription online?

Yes, you can order your repeat NHS prescriptions online through our repeat prescription service

If you have a one-off prescription, we can dispense it through our online one-off prescription service.

Can I buy non-prescription pharmacy medicines online?

Yes, however, some medicines, such as certain painkillers, may have a limit on how many you can buy in a single transaction.

Some medicines require approval from a pharmacist, so you’ll be asked to answer a few questions to provide additional information. This is so one of our pharmacists can check that the medicine is appropriate for you. If there are no problems, your order will be approved and despatched straight to your delivery address or store, subject to stock availability. A signature is required when the parcel is delivered. 

Occasionally, our pharmacist may need to contact you by phone or email to discuss your order. Please ensure you provide us with the best contact number for us to reach you on.

How long does it take for medicines to arrive if I order them online?

If you’re using our repeat prescription service, the medicine will be ready for the date you specified in your order (as long as it’s more than two weeks away)*. We ask you to allow two weeks so we have enough time to get your prescription from your doctor and get your medicines dispensed and ready for you. If you need the medicine sooner than this, please contact your local Boots Pharmacy directly and a member of our pharmacy team will do their best to try and get it for you.

If you use our one-off prescription service, we’ll despatch your order as soon as you send us your prescription. It will then take about two working days for your medicines to arrive by post. 

If you’re using our online clinic services, it will take up to three working days for you to receive your order.

*Subject to stock availability

If I choose the online service, will I be able to see a pharmacist and receive advice about my medicines?

If you need a private face-to-face consultation with one of our pharmacists, you’ll need to speak to a member of your local Boots pharmacy team. They’ll be happy to arrange for you to have a consultation in a private room in store.

Can I get a refund on prescription charges for medicines bought online?

Once your medicines have been despatched for delivery, or you have collected them, we can’t accept returns or offer refunds on prescription charges for medicines.

How do I change my order once I've placed it?

If you placed a prescription order to be delivered to you or to be collected from a post office, please contact the Boots Online Pharmacy on 0345 301 4219.

If you chose to collect your prescription order at one of our pharmacies, please contact them using the details on our store locator and a member of our pharmacy team will do their best to help. 

Can I buy medicines on behalf of a family member?

You can order repeat prescription medicines for others online, but you‘ll need their permission and all their relevant personal details (such as their date of birth and GP’s address) to place the order.

You also can order non-prescription medicines for others but you may need to answer a few questions first.  This is so our pharmacy team can check that the medicine is appropriate. If there are no problems, your order will be approved and delivered to you or a Boots pharmacy if you prefer. A signature is required when the parcel is delivered. 

Occasionally, our pharmacist may need to contact you by phone or email to discuss your order. Please ensure you put in your correct contact number and that you are able to answer the phone if needed.

Delivery

How will I know when my medicines are ready?

If you’ve placed an order online for a repeat prescription, we'll let you know by text message when your medicines are ready for you to collect in store, or if you've chosen home delivery or to collect from a post office, when your medicines have been despatched.

When will I receive my medicines by post?

We’ll notify you when we have despatched your order. This will normally be within two working days of us receiving your prescription from you or your GP (subject to stock availability). Your prescription will be sent via Royal Mail 1st class recorded delivery, so will usually be delivered within two working days of despatch. The package will need to be signed for by someone aged 18 or over.

How will my medicines be delivered?

If you have chosen to have your medicines delivered to you or to collect them from a post office they’ll be delivered via the Royal Mail 1st class recorded delivery service. They will usually be delivered within two working days of despatch.

Can you deliver to my workplace?

Yes, as long as there is someone over the age of 18 to sign for the parcel. We can deliver to any UK address apart from PO boxes.

Are there any items that aren’t appropriate for home delivery?

Medicines which need to be kept below a certain temperature by refrigerating them must be collected in store. Controlled drugs need to be collected from store too.

Can you deliver overseas?

Sorry, we’re only able to supply customers in the UK with prescriptions issued by UK registered prescribers.

Do I need to be in for delivery of my medicines and what happens if I am out?

Someone over the age of 18 must be in to sign for the medicines. If you’re not in when the delivery is made then a card will be put through your door with details of where to go for collection.

What can I do about getting my repeat prescription earlier if I’m going to be away?

We’ll do our best to make sure you still have the medicine you need. If you normally get your medicine delivered to your home or local post office, please call 0345 301 4219.

If you normally pick up your prescriptions from a Boots pharmacy, please either pop in to let them know, or call them using the contact details on our store locator.

Why can't I get other products delivered with my prescription?

Our prescriptions have to be dispensed from a registered pharmacy, while other products are sent from our central warehouse. Therefore prescription medicines are despatched separately.

What are the delivery charges for prescriptions delivered to my home?

There is no delivery charge for NHS prescriptions. 

For private prescriptions, if the order total is less than £45, the delivery cost is £3.50. If the order is over £45, we’ll deliver your medicines free of charge.

Please note, if your order includes an NHS prescription and a private prescription costing less than £45 you will be charged for delivery.

Who can I contact if there is a problem with delivering my prescription?

If you haven’t received your prescription order, or if it is incomplete, please contact us as soon as possible on our local call rate number on 0345 301 4219 and we’ll resolve any issues. 

Unfortunately, once prescription medicines have been despatched, we can’t offer a refund. 

Why am I getting a message saying I've already purchased the maximum quantity allowed?

Certain medicines on our site, including some painkillers, have a restriction on the quantity you can purchase. You’ll see a message telling you that you can’t order more than the maximum quantity allowed for that medicine.

Can I return unwanted medicines?

Yes, you can take them to your local pharmacy for disposal, but we won’t be able to offer you a refund on unwanted medicine.

What if I'm collecting my medicine from the post office?

To collect your medicine from the post office, you'll need to take some form of ID with you, like a passport or driving licence. You must be aged 18 or over to collect your prescription order and you’ll need to sign for it. The Royal Mail require that only the person named on the order can collect it, so someone else can’t collect it on your behalf.

Repeat prescriptions

How long will it take to receive my order?

Allow two weeks for your order to be ready. This is to allow time for us to receive your prescription from your GP, review and dispense it, then get it delivered to you.

Who can use Boots Repeat NHS Prescription Online Service?

Boots Repeat NHS Prescription Online Service is suitable for those who already have a repeat NHS prescription from their GP. This is usually for long-term or chronic conditions like diabetes. You can use the service to order medicines for yourself or on behalf of someone else. To place a repeat prescription order you must be aged 16 or over.