Healthcare in Belgium

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 contribution to the cost of your care.

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will enable you to access the necessary state-provided healthcare in Belgium at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free when on a temporary stay.

The Belgian health authority determines what treatment is considered necessary and cannot wait until your return to the UK.

The EHIC also covers you for the treatment of pre-existing medical conditions, although it does not cover you if you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment. In this case, see our section on seeking medical treatment in Europe.

The EHIC also covers you for routine maternity care, provided the reason for your visit is not specifically to give birth.

If you don't have your EHIC with you or you've lost it, you can call Overseas Healthcare Services at the NHS Business Services Authority (+44 191 218 1999) to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate.

Finding help in an emergency

In the event of an emergency in Belgium, you can call 100 or 112 (or 114 hearing assisted). This call is free of charge from any fixed or mobile phone. An ambulance will arrive quickly and take you to the nearest emergency centre – you will need to pay for this service.

Most emergency services and doctors speak English, but there is no guarantee. If possible, have a French or Dutch speaker assist you with your call. In addition, take a note of these useful Belgian phrases for emergencies.

The two main languages spoken in Belgium are French and Dutch. The word for "emergency" is "urgence" in French and "spoedgeval" in Dutch.

When you reach the emergency services, ask for the medical service: in French or Dutch, this is "service médical d'urgence" or "medische spoeddienst".

Other useful telephone numbers to note down are:

  • 101 – national police (police fédérale / federale politie)
  • 100 – national fire service (pompiers / medische spoeddienst)
  • 105 – the Red Cross
  • 02 648 40 14 – community help service helpline (24-hour crisis and information service in English)

Here is a useful glossary of French and Dutch medical words.

Health services and costs

To access healthcare in Belgium, you will have to pay. You can then claim back a proportion of this cost – how much will depend on your residence status and your personal circumstances.

If you are visiting Belgium, remember that your EHIC will only cover you for emergency treatment, whether that is with a hospital or a doctor.

You should be particularly careful if healthcare arrangements are made by a hotel or travel representative.

To receive treatment from a doctor or dentist, you'll have to pay a fee directly to them. It's then possible to claim back up to 80% of the costs incurred while you're in Belgium.

To claim money back, you need a receipt on the official form (attestation de soins donnés or getuigschrift voor verstrekte hulp) so you should always ask the doctor or dentist for this.

Some dentists accept part payment if you show your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Check before booking an appointment with a dentist, as treatment charges differ considerably.

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

Hospital treatment

Hospital care in Belgium is not free. Most inpatient care carries a fixed daily fee plus the cost of medicines, tests and so forth.

If you are admitted to hospital, make sure you present your EHIC (if you are a visitor) or your Belgian residence identity card (residents only) on admission. It's advisable to take your British passport with you, too. This will save you paying any refundable costs up front and ensure you only pay the patient contribution.

A comprehensive list of hospitals in Belgium is provided by the Belgian Hospital Association (Association Belge des Hôpitaux in French and Dutch).

Head office: Dejonckerstreet 46
B 1060 Brussels

Tel: +32 2 543 7819


You will have to pay for your prescription at the pharmacy. The EHIC does not cover the cost for prescriptions and you will not be able to claim a refund.

Most pharmacies in Belgium operate on regular working hours, with a telephone number operating 24 hours a day. If a pharmacy is closed, the nearest open pharmacy will be advertised.

You can call 0903 99 000 for information about duty pharmacies (calls cost €1.50 per minute). It's a 24-hour phone service to help you find pharmacies in your area. You can also use their online service and search for pharmacies via postcode.


In most cases, ambulance travel in Belgium is charged. There is no reimbursement for the use of an ambulance. There is a standard charge for using an ambulance, the so-called "100". Additionally, a charge per kilometre is added covering the distance of travel to the hospital.

You will be sent an invoice with the amount to be paid by post, which you must pay in full.

Most health insurance schemes in Belgium offer extra coverage for ambulance usage, so if you are a resident, you may wish to look into this with your insurer.

Making healthcare arrangements in advance

Certain treatments must be pre-arranged before arriving in Belgium. You should consult your GP before travelling. Remember, you must present your EHIC for all treatments abroad.

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 may also be additional costs that the EHIC will not cover.

In Belgium, there are three different types of oxygen: gassiform, oxygenconcentrator and fluid oxygen. The easiest way to access oxygen during a visit to Belgium is to use gassiform oxygen. You can obtain this at any Belgian pharmacist.

Reimbursements can be obtained at any Belgian Social Security Fund, but you must have a valid EHIC. Addresses and phone numbers of pharmacists can be found on the website (available in French or Dutch).

Oxygenconcentrator or fluid oxygen can be obtained through a hospital, though some smaller hospitals do not provide it. You should contact one of the bigger hospitals in Belgium before travelling. Visit for more information (available in Dutch only).

If you contact one of the Belgian Sickness Insurance Funds, this will simplify the processing of any request you make for reimbursement. Visit the INAMI website for more information (available in French or Dutch).

1. Gassiform oxygen


  • can be obtained at any pharmacist
  • pure oxygen


  • heavy bottle
  • low capacity
  • only partially taken in charge according to Belgian legislation

2. Oxygenconcentrator


  • comfortable
  • daily reimbursement of about €8.50 – contact the Belgian Sickness Insurance Fund beforehand
  • safe
  • easy to use


  • could be interrupted, therefore an alternative method must also be present
  • high personal charge
  • delivered only under strict conditions

3. Fluid oxygen


  • lightweight
  • high capacity
  • pure oxygen
  • no charge for the patient – contact the Belgian Sickness Insurance Fund beforehand


  • spontaneous evaporation
  • risk of freezing injuries
  • irritation of the nose caused by low temperature
  • delivered only under strict conditions

Other arrangements 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 the north west
  • 0808 143 9993 for the East Midlands
  • 0808 143 9999 for the 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.

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


You will need to speak to the co-ordinator at your UK dialysis unit, who will contact the dialysis unit in Belgium 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 also may be different guidance depending on what type of dialysis you receive. Make sure you speak to your doctor before you travel.

The National Kidney Federation 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 Belgium

If you move to Belgium to live or plan to work in the country, you'll have to register with a social security organisation (mutuelle or ziekenfonds) to receive medical care in the country.

Once you've registered, all your dependants, such as children or a non-working spouse, can also be covered under the social insurance scheme.

Working in Belgium

As soon as you move to Belgium, you must register with a mutuelle or ziekenfonds.

The Belgian health insurance and social security system is administered by several mutuelles or ziekenfonds, which are linked to the various political parties: the Liberal, Neutral, Christian and Socialist parties. You are free to choose one that best suits your needs.

Both you and your employer must make contributions to your social security and health insurance through the mutuelle or ziekenfonds. The amount you have to pay is set by the Belgian government. You can also choose to take out further private health insurance coverage, which covers any fees not reimbursable by the mutuelles or ziekenfonds.

Self-employed workers and freelancers

Self-employed people are only insured for major risks – for example, hospital surgery and radiography – but you can take out additional cover for minor risks. This extra cover then entitles you to partial reimbursement for consultations, certain dental care, physiotherapy, prostheses and medication when not in hospital.

For more information about healthcare in Belgium, visit the portal.

For hospital stays and medication from a pharmacy, you only pay your personal share. The hospital or pharmacy reads your Belgian residence card to determine the type of cover given, then collects the balance directly from the health insurance fund.

Some people choose to take out additional healthcare insurance to cover them for any amounts not refunded by their health insurance scheme.

Paying for medical treatment

Receiving medical treatment in Belgium works on a pay-per-service basis, where the patient is billed and pays for each individual consultation, treatment or procedure they receive, and then submits a claim to the appropriate insurance company to reclaim part or all of the cost.

Very occasionally, the full cost of medical treatment is reimbursed through the mutuelles or ziekenfonds, but usually up to 80% will be returned with the remainder covered by the patient.

Seconded or posted to Belgium

If you are a worker posted by a UK company to Belgium, you may be entitled to health cover in Belgium funded by the UK. Contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for more details:

National Insurance Contributions and Employer Office
HM Revenue and Customs

Tel: 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, read our information on moving abroad.

Studying in Belgium

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

You might also want to read our articles on:


If you are living in Belgium 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 form.

For exportable UK pensions and contribution-based Employment Support Allowance, you can apply for your form via the International Pension Centre at the Department for Work and Pensions – call them on 0191 218 7777.

You may need to liaise with a different team, depending on the exportable benefit. Find out more about claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad on the GOV.UK website. Different exportable benefits can have different rules in terms of healthcare cover.

Once issued, register the S1 form with the relevant authority in Belgium. Often, you need to do this before you can register for healthcare or obtain a medical card.

Once you have registered your S1 in Belgium, 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.

TipThe Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides useful information for Britons living in Belgium.

Page last reviewed: 04/10/2016
Next review due: 04/10/2019