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Country-by-country guide

Accessing healthcare in Germany

Brandenburg Gate - Germany

Each country's health system is different and might not include all the things you would expect to get free of charge from the NHS. This may mean that you have to make a patient contribution to the cost of your care.

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will enable you to access state-provided healthcare in Germany at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free. It will cover you for treatment until you return to the UK. It also covers you for treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and for routine maternity care, provided the reason for your visit is not specifically to give birth.

Non-EEA nationals are not covered in Germany.

Get the EHIC smartphone app

The European Commission has developed a useful multi-language free phone app, which explains how to use the EHIC card in different countries within the EU. It summarises the treatments, costs, procedure for reimbursement, and emergency numbers.

Finding help in emergencies

If you find yourself in an emergency during your stay in Germany, dial 112, which is free from public phones. Accident and emergency (A&E) departments in Germany are called Notaufnahme.

Other useful numbers to note down:

  • 110 – police (Polizei)
  • 112 – fire brigade (Feuerwehr) and ambulance (Rettungswagen)
  • 0761 192 40 – emergency poison helpline

Most emergency services and doctors speak English, but there is no guarantee. If possible, have a local person assist you with your call. In addition, take a note of these useful German phrases for emergencies and doctor appointments.

 

Health services and costs

Your EHIC does not cover private treatment. Any costs incurred for private healthcare are non-refundable. You should be particularly careful if healthcare arrangements are made by a hotel or travel representative.

Make sure you are treated by a healthcare provider that is licensed with the statutory system (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung – GKV). In the hospital sector, there are state, private and charity-run hospitals, all of which normally have contractual arrangements with statutory health insurers.

German GPs and dental surgeries usually display a sign saying Kassenarzt or Alle Kassen, which indicates they are operating under the state system. You can find GPs (Ärzte), dentists (Zahnärzte), pharmacies (Apotheken) or hospitals (Krankenhäuser) via the Gelbe Seiten, which is the German version of Yellow Pages. The doctors' chamber (Bundesärztekammer) also allows you to search for doctors by region on their websites, though this service is only available in German. If you need urgent medication out of hours, you can visit the emergency pharmacy, known as the Apotheken-Notdienst.

You are covered by your EHIC in Germany. Find out more in the On holiday in Germany leaflet (PDF, 107kb).

Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork (make copies if necessary) as they might be needed by you or your insurance company to apply for any refund or reimbursement.

If you move to Germany long-term or plan to work in the country, you'll have to register with one of the statutory health insurance funds (gesetzliche Krankenkassen ). Your insurance fund will issue you with a health insurance card (Krankenversichertenkarte), which you have to take with you whenever you visit a doctor, dentist or specialist.

Dentists: children under 18 do not have to pay for treatment.

Hospitals: except for emergencies, you'll need to be referred by a doctor for any hospital treatment. Either provide your EHIC or your German-issued health insurance card at admission. You will have to pay a fixed charge of €10 a day for a maximum of 28 days in a year. Patients up to the age of 18 do not have to pay.

Prescriptions: medicines and bandages prescribed by your GP can be obtained from any pharmacy in exchange for the prescription. You will have to pay 10% of the cost subject to a minimum charge of €5 and a maximum charge of €10. These costs are not refundable. For minor drugs and medicines, such as painkillers and cough mixtures, you may be charged the full amount (Privatrezept). Children under 18 do not have to pay a fee for prescriptions.

There are strict regulations about how much and what kind of medications can be imported to Germany. Please see the German customs page for more information.

Ambulance, including air ambulance: you are only covered by your EHIC or German health insurance card in emergencies or if a doctor states that it's needed for medical reasons.

Making healthcare arrangements in advance

Although your EHIC covers the provision of oxygen, renal dialysis and routine medical care, you'll have to arrange and pre-book medical treatment before you go. Always consult your GP or hospital before travelling. Also, it's important to make sure you are not booked with a private healthcare provider as they are not covered by your EHIC.

Oxygen therapy

Ensure your EHIC is valid before you travel. In most cases, you will have to use the authorised oxygen company for the country you are travelling to. You'll also have to make your own arrangements, including arranging for permission from your hotel to deliver and install the equipment. There also may be additional costs that the EHIC will not cover.

Your home oxygen supplier is not required to provide a service outside the UK. However, most suppliers will be able to advise you on what to do. Your oxygen treatment clinic will organise your home oxygen supply from one of these suppliers:

Air Liquide: Call them on:

  • 0808 143 9991 for London
  • 0808 143 9992 for North West
  • 0808 143 9993 for East Midlands
  • 0808 143 9999 for South West

Baywater Healthcare: covers Yorkshire and Humberside, West Midlands and Wales. Call them on 0800 373 580. For more information, visit Baywater Healthcare.

BOC: covers the East and North East of England. Call them on 0800 136 603.

Dolby Vivisol: covers the South of England. Call them on 0500 823 773.

The British Lung Foundation (BLF) may have additional oxygen contacts for the country you are travelling to. Its website offers general advice about travelling abroad with a lung condition.

Ensure you allow plenty of time to make all your arrangements before you travel.

Dialysis

You need to speak to the co-ordinator at your UK Dialysis Unit, who will contact the dialysis unit in Germany nearest to where you will be staying. The provision of dialysis will be subject to availability in Germany.

Make your arrangements according to your UK dialysis schedule. There may be different guidance depending on what type of dialysis you receive. Make sure you speak to your doctor before you travel.

You can also visit the National Kidney Federation, which offers general advice about travelling with a kidney disease, as well as specific guidance for haemodialysis patients, peritoneal dialysis patients, and guidelines for transplant patients. Read more advice about travelling with other conditions:

Living in Germany

German residents are either a member of a gesetzliche Krankenkasse (statutory health insurance fund) or a private Krankenversicherung (private health insurer). All employees can choose their own health insurance provider.

The most common health insurance company types are the AOK, BEK, BKK, DAK and KKH. Your health insurance fund will issue you with a health insurance card, which you have to take with you whenever you visit a doctor, dentist or specialist.

Working in Germany

If you move to Germany long-term or plan to work in the country, you'll have to make sure you register with the German authorities (Einwohnermeldeamt). However, you still have to register with a health insurance fund before you can access healthcare under the statutory health insurance system (SHI) in Germany.

Access to German statutory health insurance is based on the status of the person. Employees earning less than €56,250 per year are subject to compulsory membership in the SHI system. Unemployed persons who are registered with the Federal Employment Agency and students will also get access to the SHI system. Statutory health insurers are not required to accept working-age persons who are not seeking work, although this group may be given access if they prove that they have been previously covered by the statutory equivalent of their home country by a completed form SED 040/S041 within three months after arrival. Speak to the statutory health insurer for more advice. People with earnings above the annual earnings ceiling or with no right of access to statutory health insurance may chose to join private health insurance.

Once you start your job in Germany, your employer will ask for details of your health insurer and administer your national insurance contributions (covering statutory health, long-term care, unemployment, pension insurance) and pay statutory accident insurance (covering work accidents). You'll be entitled to healthcare in the statutory system on the same basis as a German national.

If you are a worker seconded to Germany for more than two years but less than five or the family member of someone making UK national insurance contributions, your employer should contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for the following forms:

  • A1 – this will show that national insurance contributions are paid in the UK
  • S1 – this will give you and your family the same medical cover as German residents

Note: Ensure when you submit the forms that you mention relevant family members and dependants.

National Insurance Contributions and Employer Office
HM Revenue and Customs
BX9 1AN
United Kingdom

For National Casework Contributions enquires you can phone International Casework Helpline on:

  • 0300 200 3506
  • 0044 191 203 7010 from outside the UK

For more information, visit the Moving abroad section.

Once issued, register the S1 form with your German health insurance fund before you register with your local GP surgery.

Studying in Germany

If you are going to study or are currently studying in Germany as part of a UK-recognised course, you may be entitled to healthcare paid for by the UK government.

Also read:

Pensioners

If you are living in Germany and you receive a UK State Pension, or any other benefit that can be paid to you when you move abroad (exportable benefit), you have the right to return to England to access treatment in the same way as if you were living in England, including planned treatment, and you do not need to obtain authorisation from Germany. However, you may still need to make advance arrangements with an NHS provider in England for planned care.

You can apply for your S1 form (certificate of entitlement) via the International Pension Centre on 0044 191 218 7777. Once issued, register the S1 form with a statutory health insurance fund before you obtain a medical card and register at, or receive treatment from, your local GP surgery. Pensioners can choose any health insurance provider.

Once you have registered your S1 in Germany, you will be entitled to apply for and use a UK-issued EHIC. However, you cannot apply online via the official EHIC website if you live abroad. Instead you'll need use the EHICE form which you can order from the Overseas Healthcare Team (on 00 44 191 218 1999). Note: You will need to register your new S1 in Italy before the Overseas Healthcare Team can issue you with an EHICE application form.

Early retirees

Since July 1 2014 you are no longer able to apply for residual S1 form.
If you already have a residual S1 this will not affect you – it will continue to be valid until its original expiry date. For more information visit the Moving abroad section.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides useful information for Britons living in Germany.

Page last reviewed: 23/03/2016

Next review due: 23/03/2018

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