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Healthcare in Poland

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 Poland

Finding help in an emergency

If you find yourself in a serious life-threatening emergency, you should call 112. This number is free of charge and is also for the police and fire brigade.

Be aware that if you ask a hotel or travel representative to call a doctor, you may be treated privately.

If you wish to be treated under the state system, you must call 112 and ask for an ambulance to take you to the nearest state hospital.

Healthcare up until the UK leaves the EU

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 Poland at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free if you're staying there temporarily.

If you're asked to pay for health services upfront, it's likely that you're 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
  • cruises

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're referring to private insurance and not the treatment given under the EHIC.

The healthcare system in Poland is universal and free to people who are insured via national insurance contributions.

Immediate family members of insured people also have access to the state health system.

National insurance contributions are deducted automatically from workers via their employer.

A portion of the deduction, which is called the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) contribution, is given to the National Health Fund.

The National Health Fund finances the health treatments provided to the insured person.

Emergency medical treatment will be provided to individuals in urgent need of medical attention, regardless of insurance cover.

Where third country nationals are not registered for healthcare, they may be charged depending on the type of treatment.

Anyone who's not registered with the Polish health service will need to secure private health insurance.

Third country nationals without insurance cannot access non-emergency free state healthcare.

Provisional replacement certificate (PRC)

A PRC is a certificate demonstrating a person's entitlement to EHIC.

If you need healthcare but do not have your EHIC with you, you can call Overseas Healthcare Services and ask them to send a PRC to show to the hospital. This will avoid you being directly charged.

Contact Overseas Healthcare Services:

UK: 0191 218 1999
Outside UK: +44 191 218 1999

Open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm UK time.

People with pre-existing health conditions

If you have a pre-existing health condition, you should buy medical travel insurance before visiting Poland.

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 any documents about your health condition or medication with you.

If you're travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment, see our section about seeking medical treatment in Europe.

Dentists

Dental treatment is not covered by the state healthcare system and is limited even in an emergency.

Hospitals

Just like in the UK, you'll need to be referred by a doctor for any hospital treatment.

Make sure you're referred to a state hospital as only these provide treatment free of charge.

Even in a state hospital you'll need a valid EHIC. Double-check you're not treated as a private patient.

In the state healthcare system, you have the right to insist your EHIC is accepted. You do not have to provide travel insurance details unless you choose to do so.

The following services require a referral:

  • outpatient specialist care
  • hospital treatment
  • therapeutic rehabilitation
  • care for chronic illnesses

The following specialist services do not require a referral:

  • gynaecology and obstetrics
  • oncology
  • psychiatry
  • venereology
  • dentistry

Prescriptions

Prescriptions are charged at 100%, 50%, 30% or 0% of the total medicine cost.

The percentage you must pay is dependent on the product and your individual circumstances.

When using your EHIC, people of working age are charged 50% and pensioners are charged about 10%.

Pensioners will have to declare they receive a UK state pension to pay the lower rate.

Bringing your own medicines to Poland

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 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.

After the UK leaves the EU

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, your access to healthcare when visiting Poland is likely to change.

If you're planning to visit Poland on or 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.

If you're using an EHIC issued by the UK, this will still be valid until the UK leaves the EU.

The UK government is seeking agreements with countries, including Poland, on healthcare arrangements for UK nationals after the UK leaves the EU.

This guide will be updated with further information on travelling to Poland as the circumstances change.

Working in Poland

Healthcare up until the UK leaves the EU

EHIC does not cover residency of over 90 days in Poland. UK nationals living and/or working in Poland must follow the registration process to access the same entitlements to healthcare as Polish nationals.

If you're going to work in Poland and make national insurance contributions, you'll be entitled to state-run healthcare on the same basis as a Polish national.

All those employed in Poland, including foreigners, are obliged to possess health insurance.

Employers pay a contribution on the employee's behalf to the National Health Fund (NFZ).

Immediate family members of the insured person may also benefit from free medical assistance following registration with the NFZ.

Family members include a spouse, children and parents if they live in 1 household.

If you're a worker posted to Poland by a UK company, you may be entitled to health cover funded by the UK in the country you're posted to.

Contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for more details:

National Insurance Contributions and Employer Office
HM Revenue and Customs
BX9 1AN
United Kingdom

  • 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, see Planning your healthcare when moving abroad section of this website.

After the UK leaves the EU

If you're a Polish resident and are registered with and pay contributions to the National Health Fund (NFZ), you'll have the same entitlement to healthcare as a Polish national.

The healthcare system in Poland is universal and free if you make NFZ contributions.

Your immediate family members will also have access to the state health system if you make contributions.

If you do not contribute to the NFZ, you must secure private healthcare insurance.

If you're a UK posted worker, you may need to buy additional healthcare insurance in Poland so you can receive the healthcare treatment you need.

You must demonstrate you have state or private healthcare insurance in Poland to gain residency.

When you have completed the residency process, you'll be issued with a PESEL number (individual identification number) that's required for registration at a health clinic.

Pensioners in Poland

Healthcare up until the UK leaves the EU

If you live in Poland 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'll need to apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 form.

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.

Different exportable benefits can have different rules in terms of healthcare cover.

If you're living in Poland 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'll need to apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 form.

S1 certificate (formerly known as E106)

An S1 certificate helps you and your dependants access healthcare in Poland.

If you have an S1 certificate, it'll be valid 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 for an S1 certificate through the Business Services Authority

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.

Further information is available under 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.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides information about what UK and Polish benefits are available to Britons living in Poland and information on driving regulations in Poland.

After the UK leaves the EU

If you're a Polish resident and are registered with and pay contributions to the National Health Fund (NFZ), you'll have the same entitlement to healthcare as a Polish national.

Access to healthcare in Poland is predicated on insurance. To access free state healthcare, Polish citizens and non-Polish citizens alike must be employed and contribute to national insurance.

By doing so, they can register their household dependants for state healthcare. Self-employed people can pay into the National Health Fund for gain cover.

Polish official advice states that where individuals are not able to pay into the state system, or where they opt out, they must secure private insurance and pay fees to use state health services.

Private services can be accessed using state health insurance where the National Health Fund has agreements in place. Where there are no agreements, fees will be incurred.

Where individuals become unemployed, they can maintain access to state healthcare if they can show that in the previous 18 months they have been in employment for 365 days. In this instance, the Labour Office will pay the insurance contributions.

Students in Poland

If you're a UK resident and studying in Poland, and you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), this will be valid until the UK leaves the EU.

You should continue to buy insurance to cover your healthcare, as you would if you were visiting a non-EU country, after the UK leaves the EU.

Page last reviewed: 28 January 2019
Next review due: 28 January 2022