Each country's health system is different and might not include all the things you'd 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.
Visitors to Austria
Finding help in an emergency
If you find yourself in an emergency during your stay in Austria, dial 112 (Euro Emergency) or one of the below emergency numbers:
- 144 – rescue (Rettung)
- 133 – police (Polizei)
- 122 – fire department (Feuerwehr)
Deaf emergency: by fax or SMS to 0800 133 133 (Gehörlosen-Notruf)
The official language of Austria is German. Emergency calls are answered in German first, but in large tourist areas you’ll also find English speaking operators. If possible, have a local person assist you with your call.
Healthcare until the UK leaves the EU
Austria does not have a national health service (NHS) like the UK. Instead their health services is organised by region with regional authorities (Gebietskrankenkasse - GKK). Download the GKK list (PDF, 53kb) containing a list of these regions and their relevant authorities, including contact details.
Emergency medical care is provided to anyone requiring urgent attention. You can expect to be charged in full for any care provided without an EHIC.
You should always buy enough travel insurance and make sure you have access to funding to cover any medical treatment abroad. 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.
Currently, your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) enables you to access the necessary state-provided healthcare in Austria at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free, if you are staying there temporarily. If you are asked to pay for health services upfront, it is likely that you are not being treated under the state health system.
EHIC does not cover certain costs, including:
- private treatment
- being brought back to the UK
- mountain rescue services
Make sure you are treated by a provider who has a contract with one of the GKK regional health insurance offices to be able to use your EHIC. Doctors usually display a sign saying "Kassenarzt" (contracted doctor) or "Alle Kassen", which means they operate under the state system.
Be careful if healthcare arrangements are made by a hotel or travel representative. They might reassure visitors that they can claim back whatever is paid out, but they are referring to private insurance and not the treatment given under the EHIC.
People with pre-existing health conditions
If you have a pre-existing health condition, you should buy medical travel insurance before visiting Austria.
You must tell the insurance company about any pre-existing health conditions you have, to make sure you can get the cover you need. If you have an EHIC, this will be valid until the UK leaves the EU but may not work after that.
If you have a pre-existing condition that will need treatment while abroad, ask your doctor in the UK for advice before you travel. Make sure you take with you any documents about your health condition or medication.
If you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment, see our section about seeking medical treatment in Europe.
Dentists are called Zahnärzte in Austria. If you need dental treatment during your stay because of illness or an accident, you'll have to present a valid EHIC or your e-card 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 are called Krankenhäuser in Austria. Just like in the UK, you'll need a doctor's referral for non-emergency hospital treatment.
If you are admitted to hospital, you’ll need to present either a valid EHIC or e-card to receive treatment at the same cost as a resident.
Standard treatment is free of charge if the hospital has a contract with the "Landesgesundheitsfonds" (such as university hospitals or regional hospitals). There is a daily charge (currently €11.60-19.40) for the first 28 days in hospital.
You will be charged if you are treated by a private hospital.
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 extra legal controls apply to these medicines.
You may need a personal licence to take controlled medicines abroad.
Specific requirements also apply to:
- the information that you must take with you
- how you carry your controlled medicines
You can visit the GOV.UK website for more information on travelling with controlled medicines.
After the UK leaves the EU
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, your access to healthcare when visiting Austria is likely to change. If you are planning to visit Austria after the UK leaves the EU, you should continue to buy travel insurance so you can get the healthcare treatment you need, just as you would if visiting a non-EU country.
The UK government is seeking agreements with countries, including Austria, on the continuation of healthcare arrangements for UK nationals after the UK leaves the EU.
This guide will be updated with further information on travelling to Austria as the circumstances change. Further information can be found on GOV.UK and the Austrian Government website which has a Brexit hotline on +43 (0) 800 222 666.
Working in Austria
Healthcare up until the UK leaves the EU
If you are working in Austria, you’ll have to make sure to register with the Austrian authorities and be registered 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, 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 further information, visit the Main Association of Austrian Social Security Institutions website (information available in English).
If you are a worker posted by a UK company to Austria up to the time the UK leaves the EU, you may be entitled to health cover funded by the UK. Contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for more details:
National Insurance Contributions and Employer Office
HM Revenue and Customs
- Telephone: 0300 200 3500
- Outside UK: +44 191 203 7010
Opening times: 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (closed weekends and bank holidays).
For more information, read the Moving abroad section of this website.
After the UK leaves the EU
You are likely to have to apply for a work permit. If you have a work permit, and you are paying social security contributions to Austria, you will continue to be able to access healthcare on the same terms as an Austrian national resident there.
If you are a UK posted worker, you are likely to need to apply for a work permit. You are also likely to need to buy additional healthcare insurance in Austria (either the state health insurance system or private healthcare) so you can receive the healthcare treatment you need.
Pensioners in Austria
Healthcare up until the UK leaves the EU
If you live in Austria and receive an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit, you may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You will need to apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 certificate.
You may need to liaise with a different team, depending on the exportable benefit. Further information is available under Claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad on the GOV.UK website. Please note that different exportable benefits can have different rules in terms of healthcare cover.
S1 certificate (formerly known as E106)
An S1 certificate helps you and your dependants access healthcare in Austria. If you 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.
After this date, the certificate may not be valid, depending on decisions by member states.
You should continue to apply for an S1 certificate until the UK leaves the EU.
You may be eligible for an S1 certificate, if you:
- have worked and paid contributions in the UK
- receive some UK benefits such as pensions
Apply through the Business Services Authority for an S1 certificate on 0044 (0)191 218 1999
For exportable UK pensions and contribution-based Employment Support Allowance, you can apply for your certificate via the International Pension Centre at the Department for Work and Pensions on 0191 218 7777.
Further information is available under Claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad on the GOV.UK website. Please note that different exportable benefits can have different rules in terms of healthcare cover.
After the UK leaves the EU
People who have lived in Austria for more than 5 years continuously may be eligible to apply for a permanent residency. You must contribute to the same social health insurance as Austrian citizens to receive the same healthcare entitlements.
If you wish to retire in Austria you will need to demonstrate proof of health insurance covering all the necessary costs and proof of sufficient finances.
Students in Austria
If you are a UK resident and studying in Austria, and you have an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), this will be valid until the UK leaves the EU. It is recommended that you continue to buy healthcare insurance in addition to your EHIC.
After the UK leaves the EU, you need to provide proof of adequate healthcare insurance to cover you during your stay. Some students may eligible to make voluntary contributions to one of the state regional insurance providers. You are also likely to need a temporary residence permit.
Page last reviewed: 28 January 2019
Next review due: 28 January 2022