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Healthcare in Germany

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

  • moving to, or already living in Germany
  • visiting Germany (for example, on holiday)

Your options for how you access healthcare in Germany 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 Germany.

Living in Germany after Brexit

If you have registered to live in Germany and have statutory or private health insurance from a German provider, the way you access healthcare will not change when the UK leaves the EU. This applies if you are an employee or self-employed.

If you are a UK national living in Germany and you do not have statutory or private health insurance from a German provider, you should be ready for possible changes to how you access healthcare when the UK leaves the EU.

There may be a gap or permanent change in how you access healthcare if there is a no-deal Brexit.

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 use these to access your healthcare as you do now if there are no arrangements with Germany in place.

According to German no-deal legislation (information in German), if you have lived in Germany before exit day, you will be entitled to join a statutory health insurance scheme within 3 months of the date the UK leaves the EU.

You will be required to pay a contribution towards this insurance.

Contact your Krankenkasse to find out more

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

  • registering your address and applying for a residence permit
  • joining a German health insurance scheme or consider contracting private health insurance if you are a UK national. Having statutory or private health insurance is a requirement in Germany, including while you are applying for residency

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

You should not expect to be able to use NHS services for free when visiting the UK if you are living in Germany 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 Germany before exit day and you:

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

Visiting Germany after Brexit

You should prepare for possible changes to how you access healthcare if there is a no-deal Brexit and you are a UK national travelling to Germany.

UK-issued EHICs 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 arrangements with individual countries and might mean you need to pay in full for treatment.

The German Association of Health Insurers has indicated German contract doctors and dentists will be obliged to refuse to accept any EHICs or Provisional Replacement Certificates (PRC) from the UK after exit day.

Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork should you need to seek a reimbursement.

Check your travel 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 about travelling to and living in Germany after Brexit.

Healthcare in Germany until the UK leaves the EU

Finding help in an emergency

Call 112 if you have a serious or life-threatening emergency or you need an ambulance. Calls are free of charge.

Accident and emergency (A&E) departments in Germany are called Notaufnahmen.

Visiting Germany

Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance if you're planning to visit Germany. 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.

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.

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

An EHIC does not cover private healthcare, so check that you are treated by a healthcare provider in the state system. These are German doctors or dentists registered for treating patients with statutory health insurance in Germany.

They are usually referred to as the following:

  • “Kassenarzt” (statutory health insurance physician)
  • “Vertragsarzt” (registered contract physician)
  • they indicate “Alle Kassen” (all health insurance funds)

This helps you recognise that these doctors are affiliated to statutory health insurance. You will not be able to claim back any private healthcare costs.

Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork.

Pre-existing health conditions

You should buy medical travel insurance before you visit Germany 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 Germany and might mean you need to pay for treatment.

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

Dentists

Contact a local dentist if you need dental treatment during your stay because of illness or an accident. You will need adequate health insurance for your visit to Germany.

Hospitals

Except for emergencies, you'll need to be referred by a doctor for any hospital treatment.

Show your EHIC or your German-issued health insurance card together with the doctor's referral and your ID card or passport 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

You can get medicines and bandages prescribed by your GP from any pharmacy in exchange for the prescription.

You will have to pay 10% of the cost as well as 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.

Children under 18 do not have to pay a fee for prescriptions.

Bringing your own medicines to Germany

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 about travelling with controlled medicines.

Living in Germany

S1 certificate

You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you live in Germany 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 form.

An S1 certificate helps you and your dependants access healthcare in Germany. If you have an S1 certificate, it will be valid 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 a 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 after exit day if there is a no-deal Brexit. This will depend on whether the UK has an arrangement with Germany and might mean you need to pay in full for treatment.

If you do not have an S1 certificate, you can continue to apply for one 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 contact 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 Germany

You need to register with the German authorities (Einwohnermeldeamt) if you are living and working in Germany.

You still have to register with a health insurance fund (Krankenkasse) before you can access healthcare under the statutory health insurance system in Germany. This is typically done through your employer.

All employees can choose their own health insurance provider. 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.

UK posted workers

You may be entitled to state health cover funded by the UK in Germany if you are a worker posted by a UK company to Germany.

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

Students in Germany

If you are a UK resident studying in Germany, 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 Germany and might mean you need to pay 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