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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 covered in Germany.

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

Make sure you are treated by a state-funded healthcare provider. You should be particularly careful if healthcare arrangements are made by a hotel or travel representative. Any costs incurred for private healthcare are non-refundable.

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. 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. The €10 patient co-payment for GP and dentist visits was abolished in 2013. However, the co-payment must be paid if you receive benefits. 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. 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 the Baywater Healthcare website.

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. Their website offers general advice about how to make travel arrangements, including advice on:

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 website, 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 and/or working 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. A common fund exists for all other social security components.

The most popular health insurance companies 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 to register with the German authorities (Einwohnermeldeamt). Once you are registered to work in Germany and make national insurance contributions, you'll be entitled to state-run healthcare on the same basis as a German national.

However, you still have to register with a health insurance fund before you can access statutory health insurance coverage in Germany. First of all, a German health insurance fund has to examine whether all conditions for insurance are met. Speak to the health insurance fund for more advice.

If you are a worker seconded to Germany 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 tax and NI contributions are paid in the UK
  • S1 – this will give you and your family the same medical cover as German residents

HM Revenue & Customs
NIC & EO International Caseworker
Room BP1301
Benton Park View
Longbenton
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE98 1ZZ 

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 may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You'll need to apply for form S1 (a certificate of entitlement) from the International Pension Centre on 0191 218 7777.

Once issued, register the S1 form with a statutory health insurance fund (gesetzliche Krankenkasse) 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 to access state-funded necessary medical treatment when you visit other EEA countries outside Germany, including when you return to the UK.

Early retirees

From July 1 2014, you are no longer able to apply for a residual S1 form. This will not affect you if you already have a residual S1 – it will continue to be valid until its original expiry date. Find out more about the new rules.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides useful information about what UK and German benefits are available to Britons living in Germany and information on driving regulations in Germany.

Page last reviewed: 12/06/2014

Next review due: 12/06/2016

EHIC changes

You will no longer be able to claim a refund in the UK for most patient co-payments for treatment received after July 1 2014

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