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Healthcare in Poland

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 Poland
  • visiting Poland, on holiday for up to 3 months

Your options for accessing healthcare in Poland 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 Poland.

Living in Poland 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 Poland.

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 agreements with Poland in place. 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 rely on these to access your healthcare as you do now.

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

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

You must demonstrate you have state or private healthcare insurance in Poland to gain residency. You can find more information on the Office for Foreigners website or on the GOV.UK guide to living in Poland.

When you have completed the residency process you'll be issued with a PESEL number (individual identification number), which you need to be able to register at a health clinic. If you're a UK national resident in Poland 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.

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

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

  • have a UK-issued S1 form
  • have a UK-issued European Health Insurance Card (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 ordinary residence test you will be able to access NHS care without charge.

Visiting Poland 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 Poland.

UK-issued EHICs will still 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 Poland 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 conditions, talk with 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 on travelling to or living in Poland after Brexit.

Healthcare in Poland until the UK leaves the EU

Finding help in an emergency

If you have a serious life-threatening emergency or you need an ambulance, you should call 112. This number is free of charge.

Visiting Poland

Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance if you're planning to visit Poland. 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 Poland at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free if you're staying there temporarily.

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

Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork.

People with pre-existing health conditions

You should buy medical travel insurance before visiting Poland if you have a pre-existing health condition. You must tell the insurance company about any pre-existing health conditions you have to make sure you can get the cover you need.

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

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 medication with you.

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

Dentists

Dental treatment is available both privately and under the state healthcare system if you are registered with the National Health Fund.

Hospitals

You'll need to be referred by a doctor for any hospital treatment.

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

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

Prescriptions

Prescriptions are charged at 100%, 50%, 30% or 0% of the total medicine cost. This depends 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 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 you must take with you
  • how you carry your controlled medicines

Visit GOV.UK for more information about travelling with controlled medicines.

Living 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).

If you receive UK pension to your Polish bank account, you are likely to be paying contributions to the National Health Fund (NFZ). You should contact National Heath Fund and the Polish National Insurance Institution (ZUS) in order to review and check your status.

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 are not covered by state healthcare in Poland, you can join the public system by paying voluntary contributions to the National Health Fund. You should check information provided by the National Healthcare Fund (in Polish) and review your situation.

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.

S1 certificate

You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you live in Poland and receive:

  • an exportable UK State Pension
  • a contribution-based Employment Support Allowance
  • another exportable benefit

You'll need to apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 form.

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.

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 if there is a no-deal Brexit. This will depend on whether the UK has an arrangement with Poland and might mean you have to pay in full for 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.

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 Polish benefits are available to Britons living in Poland.

Working in Poland

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.

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

Students in Poland

If you're a UK resident studying in Poland, 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 Poland 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.

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