Healthcare for UK nationals living in Germany

How to get state healthcare if you live, work or study in Germany.

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This guidance will be updated if anything changes to how you get state healthcare in Germany.

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This information is about living in Germany. There’s different guidance about visiting Germany.

You must have health insurance cover to live in Germany. You may still have to pay for some services or to use some parts of the healthcare system.

German residents join a health insurer called a ‘Krankenkasse’ and pay monthly insurance contributions. Around 90% of residents join a ‘statutory’ health insurer (gesetzliche Krankenkasse).

Around 10% of residents join a private health insurer (private Krankenkasse).

UK nationals usually access the German healthcare system in one of these ways:

  • joining a statutory German health insurer
  • joining a private German health insurer
  • using a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) for temporary stays when studying, or as a ‘posted’ (detached) worker
  • registering a UK-issued S1 form with a statutory health insurer (see ‘UK-funded healthcare: getting and using an S1 form in Germany’ below)

Healthcare if you live and work in Germany

If you are planning on moving to Germany, see the guidance on Living in Germany for more information about visa and residency requirements.

You must show proof of healthcare cover:

  • before you can register as a resident
  • when you apply for a visa

For details about the healthcare cover required for residency applications, contact local authorities in Germany or the appropriate German embassy or consulate in the UK.

You must have health insurance if you live in Germany.

You can add your dependants to your statutory insurance plan for free.

If you’re employed with a German employer you can join a health insurance scheme through them.

If you’re self-employed or not covered through work you need to register directly with your chosen health insurer.

You may be entitled to a German EHIC for travel, including visits to the UK.

You may also have the right to apply for a UK S1 if you start drawing a UK State Pension (see ‘UK-funded healthcare: getting and using an S1 form in Germany’ below).

How to register for healthcare

First you need to register as a resident with the German authorities.

If you moved to Germany before 1 January 2021, you need the new residence document (Aufenthaltsdokument-GB).

Once you’ve registered as a resident, you can join a health insurer. See a list of statutory health insurers (in German).

Your health insurer will send you an ID card. Your German EHIC is on the back (if you join a statutory health insurer).

You can go to any GP practice in Germany. You do not need to register with the practice.

You do not always need to be referred by a GP for further treatment. When you need a referral, you’ll be given a piece of paper called an ‘Überweisungsschein’.

If you’re registered with a statutory health insurer rather than a private insurer, you need to make sure you go to a doctor or dentist who treats statutory-insured patients. These doctors and dentists are usually identified as:

  • ‘Kassenarzt’ (statutory health insurance physician)
  • ‘Vertragsarzt’ (registered contract physician)
  • ‘Alle Kassen’ (all health insurance funds accepted)

Take your health insurance card with you whenever you visit a doctor, dentist or healthcare provider.

How to access healthcare services

Find your nearest hospital or clinic on the Germany Hospital Directory website (German language website, translates into English).

How much you’ll pay

You’ll pay monthly insurance contributions to your insurance provider. If you’re employed and have joined a statutory insurer, your contributions will be taken from your salary before you’re paid.

You may still need to pay part of the cost of medical services you use. For example:

  • hospital stays cost 10 euros per day
  • prescription medicines cost up to 10 euros

If your UK employer has sent you to Germany temporarily (‘posted workers’)

A posted worker, also known as a ‘detached worker’, is someone who is employed or self-employed in the UK, but temporarily sent to a European Economic Area (EEA) country.

UK posted workers can access healthcare in Germany using an EHIC, GHIC or S1 form.

HMRC has a helpline for National Insurance enquiries from non-UK residents. They can answer questions about posted worker status and explain which documents you will need to get healthcare while posted.

UK-funded healthcare: getting and using an S1 form in Germany

There’s different guidance if you have an S1 as a ‘posted worker’ (see ‘If your UK employer has sent you to Germany temporarily (‘posted workers’)’ above).

You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you’re a resident in Germany and receive a UK State Pension or an exportable benefit. See Planning your healthcare abroad on the NHS website for more information about eligibility.

You may also be entitled to an S1 form if you’re a frontier worker (someone who works in one state and lives in another). You must contact HMRC National Insurance enquiries to find out if you’re eligible.

Not all UK benefits that can be claimed while abroad entitle you to UK-funded healthcare. Read more about claiming benefits if you move abroad or contact Jobcentre Plus to ask about a benefit.

Once you have an S1 form, you must register it with a statutory German health insurer.

This will mean you and your dependants will be entitled to healthcare in Germany on the same basis as German citizens who have a statutory health insurer.

You’ll also get:

Dependants and family members may be classified differently in Germany than the UK.

Check with the local authorities when you register your S1 form.

If you’re entitled to an S1 form as a dependant of a State Pensioner, your health cover will be cancelled once you begin claiming your UK State Pension.

You will be sent a new S1 form to your registered address from NHS Overseas Healthcare Services. You must register this form to ensure continuation of healthcare cover.

You are responsible for informing NHS Overseas Healthcare Services if you change your address or your circumstances change.

NHS Overseas Healthcare Services
Telephone: +44 (0)191 218 1999
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Saturday, 9am to 3pm

How to get an S1 form

If you have a UK State Pension or another qualifying exportable benefit, you must request an application form by phone from NHS Overseas Healthcare Services (see contact details above).

How to use an S1 form in Germany

You must register your S1 form with your chosen statutory health insurer in Germany. See a list of statutory health insurers (in German). Contact them to find out what documents you need to provide. It usually includes:

  • your passport
  • proof that you’re registered as a resident in Germany
  • proof of income or that you’re a pensioner

Once you’ve registered your S1, you’ll get a health insurance ID card. This shows that you’re entitled to healthcare on the same basis as a German citizen.

If you are experiencing delays registering your S1 with local authorities and require emergency or urgent treatment, contact the Overseas Healthcare Services on 0044 191 218 1999.

Studying in Germany

You should apply for a Student GHIC to get medically necessary, state-provided healthcare for the duration of your study period in Germany, whether this is for part or all of your course. This means that you’ll get necessary healthcare services on the same basis as an German citizen either for free or at a reduced cost.

If you already hold a valid Student EHIC you can use this until the card expires.

Read more about eligibility and how to apply

If you have a job while studying, you need to join a German health insurer (statutory or private). This includes if you’re doing a paid placement or internship. For students, this costs around 100 euros a month.

Getting treatment in the UK

Because the NHS is a residency-based system, under NHS rules UK nationals who move abroad on a permanent basis may lose their entitlement to free NHS healthcare.

If you are a UK national and move to the EU, you should not expect to be able to use NHS services for free when visiting the UK unless you have an EHIC, PRC or S2 to show your healthcare costs are funded by the EU country in which you now live, or another exemption applies.

Some former UK residents do not have to pay for NHS treatment when visiting England. This includes:

  • UK war pensioners
  • UK government employees
  • UK nationals living in the EU on or before 31 December 2020, once they have a registered, UK-issued S1

Read more about using the NHS when you no longer live in the UK (see ‘UK nationals who no longer live in the UK’ in Healthcare for visitors to the UK from the EU).

If you return to live in the UK you’ll be able to use the NHS like any other UK resident.

Read more about using the NHS when you return to live in the UK.

Published 23 September 2019
Last updated 14 October 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated 'Healthcare if you live and work in Germany' to include information about how to find your nearest hospital or clinic. Updated 'UK-funded healthcare' to include information for S1 dependants who begin claiming a UK State Pension, and guidance for S1 holders who are experiencing delays in registering their S1. Updated 'Studying in Germany' to include more information on Student GHIC and Student EHIC cards. Updated 'Getting treatment in the UK' to provide additional detail about NHS access when visiting the UK.

  2. Updated 'If your UK employer has sent you to Germany temporarily ('posted workers')' to reflect that posted workers can continue to get healthcare in Germany using an EHIC, GHIC or S1 form, and added link about healthcare when you no longer live in the UK to 'Getting treatment in the UK' section.

  3. Updated sections on living and working in Germany, using an S1 form in Germany, posted workers and studying in Germany. Changes reflect healthcare arrangements for people moving to Germany under the new rules of the UK’s deal with the EU.

  4. Updated 2 sections: ‘Healthcare if you’re using an S1 form in Germany and ‘Healthcare if you’re studying in Germany’. Students and people with a registered S1 in Germany can now apply for a new UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) that will remain valid from 1 January 2021.

  5. First published.