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Healthcare in Austria

On this page you will find information on the healthcare access you're entitled to and how to get it whether you're:

  • moving to, or already living in Austria (including as a student)
  • visiting Austria, for example on holiday

Your options for how you access healthcare in Austria may change if there is a no-deal Brexit. You need to make the best decisions for your circumstances if you are moving to, visiting or living in Austria.

Living in Austria after Brexit

You need to be ready for possible changes to your access to healthcare if there is a no-deal Brexit and you are a UK national living in Austria.

You should review your access to healthcare now. There may be a gap or permanent change in how you access healthcare if there is a no-deal Brexit and no agreements with Austria in place. For example, if you are a current S1 form holder, or a posted worker or student using a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) you will not be able to rely on these to access your healthcare as you do now.

You need to make the best decisions for your circumstances and consider:

  • registering to live in Austria
  • registering for healthcare under the local rules and legislation of Austria
  • buying comprehensive health insurance while you are applying for residency or if you are not eligible for local schemes

Make sure you have all the right documentation and it is up to date.

The Austrian social insurance system is organised on a professional basis. This means that registration in the Austrian statutory health insurance system is typically done through your employer. People who are self-employed or otherwise uninsured can take out voluntary health insurance themselves. It is mandatory to have health insurance while you are in Austria, including while you are applying for residency.

You should not expect to be able to use NHS services for free when visiting the UK if you are living in Austria and are not currently eligible for a UK-issued S1 form or EHIC. You should take out appropriate travel insurance when visiting the UK, as you would when visiting any other country.

You can use NHS services in England, Scotland and Wales without charge when visiting the UK after exit day, if you are living in Austria before exit day and you:

If you want to retire in Austria, you will need proof of health insurance covering all the necessary costs and proof of sufficient finances.

If you return to the UK permanently and meet the ordinarily resident test you will be able to access NHS care without charge.

Visiting Austria after Brexit

If you are a UK national travelling to Austria, you should prepare for possible changes to your access to healthcare if there is a no-deal Brexit.

UK-issued EHICs will still be valid until the UK leaves the EU.

Your EHIC may not be valid if there is a no-deal Brexit. This will depend on whether the UK has an arrangement with Austria and might mean you need to pay for treatment.

Check your insurance has the necessary healthcare cover to ensure you can get any treatment you might need. If you have any pre-existing health conditions, talk to your GP and insurer about how to get the right cover, and how this affects your travel.

This guide will be updated when there is more information on travelling to or living in Austria.

Healthcare in Austria until the UK leaves the EU

Finding help in an emergency

If you have a serious or life-threatening emergency during your stay in Austria, dial 112. Calls are free of charge.

Visiting Austria

Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance if you're planning to visit Austria. The government always advises UK nationals to take out comprehensive travel insurance when going overseas. Your EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both when you travel abroad.

Your EHIC enables you to access necessary state-provided healthcare in Austria at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free, if you are staying there temporarily.

Austria does not have a national health service like the UK. Instead their health service is organised by region with regional authorities. This is called Gebietskrankenkasse (GKK). Download the GKK list (PDF, 53kb) containing a list of these regions and their relevant authorities, including contact details.

To use your EHIC, you must check that you are treated by a provider who has a contract with one of the GKK regional health insurance offices. Doctors usually display a sign saying "Kassenarzt" (contracted doctor) or "Alle Kassen", which means they operate under the state system.

Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork.

Pre-existing health conditions

You should buy medical travel insurance before visiting Austria if you have a pre-existing health condition. You must tell the insurance company about any pre-existing health conditions you have so that you can get the cover you need.

If you have a pre-existing condition that will need treatment while abroad, ask your doctor in the UK for advice before you travel. Take any documents about your health condition or medicine with you.

Your EHIC will be valid until the UK leaves the EU. Your EHIC may not be valid if there is a no-deal Brexit. This will depend on whether the UK has an arrangement with Austria. You might need to pay for treatment.

If you are travelling to have medical treatment, read our guide to seeking medical treatment in Europe.

Dentists

Dentists are called "Zahnärzte" in Austria. If you need dental treatment during your stay because of illness or an accident, you need to show a valid EHIC or e-card (verification of health insurance in Austria) to receive treatment at the same cost as a resident. Only a limited range of dental treatment is available under the Austrian state healthcare system. Make sure you see a dentist that is contracted to one of the state health insurance funds.

For more details, visit the dental health section on the Austrian Social Security website.

Hospitals

Hospitals are called Krankenhäuser in Austria. You'll need a doctor's referral for non-emergency hospital treatment.

If you are admitted to hospital, you’ll need to show either a valid EHIC or e-card to receive treatment at the same cost as a resident.

Standard treatment is free of charge at hospitals that have a contract with the "Landesgesundheitsfonds" – such as university hospitals or regional hospitals. There is a daily charge (maximum €21.90 per day) for a maximum of 28 days in a year in hospital.

You will be charged if you are treated by a private hospital.

Prescriptions

Pharmacies are called Apotheken in Austria. You can get prescribed medicines from any pharmacy. Non-residents will be charged the full cost of prescriptions.

You can search for local pharmacies, including pharmacies open at night or on bank holidays, on the Österreichische Apothekenkammer website (in German only).

Bringing your own medicines to Austria

Some prescribed medicines contain drugs that are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs legislation in the UK. This means that additional legal controls apply to these medicines.

You may need a personal license to take controlled medicines abroad.

Specific requirements also apply to:

  • the information that you must take with you
  • how you carry your controlled medicines

Visit GOV.UK for more information on travelling with controlled medicines.

Living in Austria

S1 certificate

You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you live in Austria and receive:

  • an exportable UK State Pension
  • a contribution-based Employment Support Allowance
  • another exportable benefit

You will need to apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 certificate.

An S1 certificate helps you and your dependants to access healthcare in Austria. If you already have an S1 certificate, it will be valid until the UK leaves the EU. This should be sent to the Austrian state health authority to allow you to hold a valid e-card for the period until the UK leaves the EU.

You may be eligible for an S1 certificate, if you:

  • receive certain UK benefits, such as a UK State Pension
  • are employed by a UK body or firm (you are a posted or frontier worker)
  • are dependant of someone who has an S1 certificate

You can apply for an S1 certificate through the Business Services Authority.

If you receive a UK State Pension, you can apply for your certificate via the Overseas Healthcare Service on +44 (0) 191 218 1999 (option 5).

Your S1 certificate may not be valid if there is a no-deal Brexit. This will depend on whether the UK has an arrangement with Austria and may mean you have to pay in full for treatment.

It is possible to apply for an S1 certificate until the UK leaves the EU. It is important to have all the right documentation and that it is up to date.

For other exportable benefits, you may need to speak with a different team depending on the exportable benefit. You can find more information under Claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad on GOV.UK. Please note that different exportable benefits can have different rules in terms of healthcare cover.

Working in Austria

If you are living and working in Austria, make sure you register with the Austrian authorities and with one of the state health insurance providers.

Nearly all employees in Austria pay into the social security system and are therefore covered by health insurance, which is mandatory.

Once you are paying into the Austrian social security system and you have been registered with the relevant health insurance provider, you will receive your social insurance card. This is called the e-card. You should always bring this card with you when visiting a doctor. This will entitle you to state-run healthcare on the same basis as an Austrian national. For more information, visit the Main Association of Austrian Social Security Institutions website (information available in English).

UK posted workers

You may be entitled to health cover funded by the UK if you are a worker posted by a UK company to Austria up to the date the UK leaves the EU.

You can find out more from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC):

Students in Austria

If you are a UK resident and studying in Austria, your UK-issued EHIC will be valid until the UK leaves the EU. Your EHIC may not be valid after exit day if there is a no-deal Brexit. This will depend on whether the UK has an arrangement with Austria and might mean you need to pay in full for treatment.

The government always advises UK nationals to take out comprehensive insurance when going overseas. Your EHIC is not an alternative to insurance and you should have both when you travel abroad.

Read more about healthcare when studying abroad.

For more information about healthcare when living abroad, read our guide on planning your healthcare when moving abroad.

Page last reviewed: 28 August 2019
Next review due: 28 August 2022