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Healthcare in Italy

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 Italy
  • visiting Italy, for example on holiday

Your options for accessing healthcare in Italy 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 Italy.

Living in Italy after Brexit

You should 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 Italy.

You should review your access to healthcare now. There may be a gap or permanent change in how you access healthcare if there is no deal and no arrangements with Italy in place. For example, if you are a posted worker or student using a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) you will not be able to use this to access your healthcare as you do now.

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

  • registering to live in Italy
  • registering for healthcare under the local rules and legislation of Italy
  • 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.

Get help paying for medical treatment after Brexit

During the first 6 months after Brexit, if you need medical treatment and you're being asked to pay for it, the UK can help.

This may be through arrangements with the country you live in, or by paying your healthcare provider directly.

To organise a payment, you'll need to give your healthcare provider's details to the NHS Business Services Authority's Overseas Healthcare Services.

Call the NHS Business Services Authority on +44 (0)191 218 1999 for more information. Lines are open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm and Saturday 9am to 3pm (UK time).

Using NHS services

You should not expect to be able to use NHS services for free when visiting the UK if you are living in Italy 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 may use NHS services in England, Scotland and Wales without charge when visiting the UK after exit day if you are living in Italy on exit day and you:

  • have a UK-issued S1 form
  • have a UK-issued EHIC
  • would have been eligible for the UK to fund your healthcare access, if exit day had not occurred

This will remain the case after exit day.

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

Visiting Italy after Brexit

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

UK-issued EHICs will still be valid until the UK leaves the EU. Your EHIC can also be used to access UK-funded treatment if your visit or treatment started before exit day until you return to the UK.

To organise a payment, you'll need to give your healthcare provider's details to the NHS Business Services Authority's Overseas Healthcare Services.

Call the NHS Business Services Authority on +44 (0)191 218 1999 for more information. Lines are open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm and Saturday 9am to 3pm (UK time).

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

Possible arrangement with Italy if there is a no-deal Brexit

The Italian government has passed legislation if there is a no-deal Brexit. This would give a commitment to continue current healthcare arrangements for UK nationals in Italy until 31 December 2020, as long as reciprocal arrangements are put in place for Italian nationals in the UK.

This guide will be updated when there is more information about healthcare access when travelling to or living in Italy after Brexit.

Healthcare in Italy until the UK leaves the EU

Finding help in an emergency

Call 118 for the ambulance service if you have a serious life-threatening emergency.

In some Italian cities you can also use the European emergency phone number, 112. These numbers are free of charge.

Visiting Italy

Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance if you're planning to visit Italy. The government always advises UK nationals to take out comprehensive travel insurance when going overseas. Your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) 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 Italy at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free if you are staying there temporarily.

Make sure you are treated by a healthcare provider in the state system. You will not be covered for private healthcare with an EHIC.

Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork.

Pre-existing health conditions

You should buy medical travel insurance before visiting Italy 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.

The Money and Pensions Advice Service has information about buying travel insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

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 can also be used to access UK-funded treatment if your visit or treatment started before exit day until you return to the UK.

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 Italy and might mean you need to pay in full for treatment.

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

Hospitals

You can access the A&E unit in state-funded Italian hospitals for medical emergencies.

In general, you need to be referred by a doctor for any hospital treatment. Check that you are referred to a state hospital as only these provide treatment covered by your EHIC.

If you are admitted to hospital, you must present your EHIC to ensure you only pay the patient contribution. Check you are not treated as a private patient.

You can find primary medical services at local health authorities, called Azienda Sanitaria Locale (ASL). This includes GP and paediatrician services. These are free-of-charge consultations for residents registered with the Sistema Sanitario Nazionale (SSN), the national health system.

Prescriptions

You will normally need to pay for prescriptions separately, even if you are registered with the Sistema Sanitario Nazionale (SSN) – unless you have a special exemption registered with the ASL based on your age, unemployment or a chronic medical condition.

Bringing your own medicines to Italy

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 about travelling with controlled medicines.

Living in Italy

S1 certificate

If you live in Italy, you may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you 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.

A S1 certificate helps you and your dependants access healthcare in Italy. If you have an S1 certificate, it will be valid until the UK leaves the EU.

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 Italy and might mean you need to pay in full for your 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.

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).

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.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides information about what UK and Italian benefits are available to Britons living in Italy.

Working in Italy

UK nationals living and/or working in Italy for more than 3 months must register as a resident and apply for access to the same healthcare entitlements as Italian nationals.

If you are registered with the Italian national health system (SSN), you are entitled to the same access to healthcare as Italian nationals including emergency care and free-of-charge hospital admission.

UK posted workers

If you are a worker posted by a UK company to Italy, you may be entitled to health cover funded by the UK in the country you are posted to. You can find out more from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Students in Italy

If you are a UK resident studying in Italy, your 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 Italy 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.

If you're already studying in Italy before the UK leaves the EU, your EHIC will continue to be valid for the duration of your course.

Students starting courses after the UK leaves the EU should ensure they have comprehensive healthcare cover in place.

You can purchase full medical coverage from the Italian national health system itself, which will cost €150 per year.

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: 23 September 2019
Next review due: 23 September 2022