Healthcare in 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.

Finding help in an emergency

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.

Health services and costs

Your EHIC does not cover private treatment. Any costs incurred for private healthcare are non-refundable. You should be particularly careful if healthcare arrangements are made by a hotel or travel representative.

Make sure you are treated by a healthcare provider that is licensed with the statutory system (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung – GKV). In the hospital sector, there are state, private and charity-run hospitals, all of which normally have contractual arrangements with statutory health insurers.

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 (in German), which is the German version of Yellow Pages.

The doctors' chamber (Bundesärztekammer) also allows you to search for doctors by region (in German) on their website. If you need urgent medication out of hours, you can visit the emergency pharmacy, known as the Apotheken-Notdienst.

Tip: 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 (Privatrezept). 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.

Find out more in the On holiday in Germany leaflet (PDF, 107kb).

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 Baywater Healthcare.

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. Its 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 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, 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 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.

The most common health insurance company types 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.

The website Krankenkassen Zentrale (in German) lets you compare health insurance companies, however information is only available in German.

Working in Germany

If you move to Germany long-term or plan to work in the country, you'll have to make sure you register with the German authorities (Einwohnermeldeamt). However, you still have to register with a health insurance fund before you can access healthcare under the statutory health insurance system (SHI) in Germany.

Access to German statutory health insurance is based on the status of the person. Employees earning less than €56,250 per year are subject to compulsory membership in the SHI system. Unemployed persons who are registered with the Federal Employment Agency and students will also get access to the SHI system.

Statutory health insurers are not required to accept working-age persons who are not seeking work, although this group may be given access if they prove that they have been previously covered by the statutory equivalent of their home country by a completed form SED 040/S041 within three months after arrival.

Speak to the statutory health insurer for more advice. People with earnings above the annual earnings ceiling or with no right of access to statutory health insurance may chose to join private health insurance.

Once you start your job in Germany, your employer will ask for details of your health insurer and administer your national insurance contributions (covering statutory health, long-term care, unemployment, pension insurance) and pay statutory accident insurance (covering work accidents). You'll be entitled to healthcare in the statutory system on the same basis as a German national.

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

National Insurance Contributions and Employer Office
HM Revenue and Customs
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.

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:


If you live in Germany and you 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 on 0191 218 7777.

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.

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

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.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides useful information for Britons living in Germany.

Page last reviewed: 23/03/2016
Next review due: 23/03/2019