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Country-by-country guide

Accessing healthcare in Poland

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 means you may have to make a patient contribution to the cost of your care.

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will enable you to access public healthcare provided in Poland 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, providing the reason for your visit is not specifically to give birth.

Get the EHIC smartphone app

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

If you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment, please read our section about seeking medical treatment in Europe.

Find help in emergencies

In case you find yourself in an emergency during your stay in Poland, dial 112. Emergency services are free of charge.

Other important numbers to note down are:

  • 999 – ambulance services
  • 998 – fire brigade
  • 997 – police
  • 601 100 300 – mountain rescue
  • 601 100 100 – water rescue

Health services and costs

Your EHIC does not cover private treatment. Make sure you are treated by a healthcare provider that has a contract with the Polish National Health Fund (NFZ).

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.

Health providers who are working under the state healthcare scheme are marked with the NFZ logo. Contact NFZ for more advice before you travel. Call 0048 (22)572 60 00 from the UK. The NFZ website offers some information in English.

Doctors

Doctors surgeries are open from Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm. After 6pm on workdays, weekends and on holidays, a 24 hour-medical service is provided by various health units contracted by the NFZ. 

Dentists

Dentists often offer both NFZ and private treatment. NFZ services therefore might not be available every day of the week, and you should check with the surgery in advance. A list of free services and materials is also available at dentist surgeries. Non-standard services and materials are charged.

Hospital treatment

Just like in the UK, you'll need to be referred for any hospital treatment by a doctor. Make sure you are referred to a public hospital, as only these provide treatment free of charge. Even in a public hospital, ensure you have a valid EHIC and double-check you are not treated as a private patient.

Operations, diagnostic tests and medicines are provided free of charge during your hospital stay. 

Prescriptions

A prescription should be issued by a doctor who practices within the NFZ. Take your prescription and your EHIC to the pharmacist. Medicines are charged at: 

  • a lump-sum price of 3,20 zł – for basic medicines
  • 30% or 50% of the price of a medicine – for supplementary medicines
  • the full price in case of medicines – which are not included in the reimbursed drugs list 

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 travel. You should always consult your GP or hospital before travelling. You should also ensure you are not booked with a private healthcare provider, as these are not covered by the 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 will also have to make your own arrangements, including arranging for permission from your hotel to deliver and install the equipment. There may also 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 can 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 travelling abroad with a lung condition.

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

Dialysis

You will need to speak to the coordinator in your UK Dialysis Unit, who will contact the dialysis unit in Poland nearest to where you will be staying. You can look up UK renal units on the Renal Association website.

Ensure you make arrangements according to your UK schedule. There may also be different guidance, depending on the type of dialysis you receive. Make sure you speak to your doctor before you travel. The National Kidney Federation website 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.

The NHS Choices website has advice on travelling with various conditions. These include:

Living in Poland

Everyone who is eligible for health insurance in Poland is registered with the Polish Health Insurance Fund (NFZ). This is the only organisation in Poland that deals with compulsory health insurance. Once you are registered with the relevant authorities, you are entitled to necessary medical treatment and you will have to pay the same patient contributions as a permanent resident of Poland.

For more detail information about health insurance and medical care in Poland visit Migrant, which is the official portal for migrants in Poland.

If you are a worker seconded to Poland or the family member of someone making UK National Insurance (NI) contributions, your employer should contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for the following forms:

  • A1 – this will show that NI contributions are paid in the UK
  • S1 – this will give you and your family the same medical cover as Polish 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

  • Telephone: 0300 200 3506
  • Outside UK: +44 191 203 7010
  • Opening times: 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday - closed weekends and bank holidays

For more information, visit the Moving abroad section.

Once issued, register the S1 form with the NFZ before you register with your local GP surgery.

Pensioners

If you are living in Poland 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, which can be reached on 0191 218 7777. Once issued, register the S1 form with the NFZ before you register with your local GP surgery. 

Once you have registered your S1 in Poland, 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 Poland, including when you return to the UK.

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. Find out more about the new rules.

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

Page last reviewed: 31/07/2014

Next review due: 31/07/2016

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