Guidance

Healthcare in Germany

Healthcare information for UK nationals visiting, living in or moving to Germany.

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This content was originally published on the NHS website.

Healthcare in Germany after Brexit

If you live in Germany and have statutory or private health insurance from a German provider (you pay into a ‘Krankenkasse’), 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 do not pay into a ‘Krankenkasse’), 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.

If you live or work in Germany

Health insurance is mandatory for everyone in Germany.

According to German no-deal legislation (in German), if you have lived in Germany before exit day and the UK was responsible for your healthcare cover, 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 (list in German) to find out more.

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

  • joining a German health insurance scheme
  • 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.

S1 certificate holders

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.

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

Studying in Germany after Brexit

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.

If you’re already studying in Germany before the UK leaves the EU, the UK will cover your healthcare costs for the duration of your course

Health insurance is mandatory in Germany. Students starting courses after the UK leaves the EU should ensure they have comprehensive healthcare cover in place.

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 when visiting the UK

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:

Returning to the UK permanently

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

European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC)

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 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.

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

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 insurer about how to get the right cover, and how this affects your travel.

Your EHIC will be valid until the UK leaves the EU. Your EHIC can also be used to access UK-funded treatment in Germany 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).

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

Living and working in Germany

This section is about healthcare before Brexit. Read the section Healthcare in Germany after Brexit.

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

You still have to join a health insurer (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 insurer. Your health insurer 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):

S1 certificate

This section is about S1 certificates before Brexit. Read the section Healthcare in Germany after Brexit.

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 certificate.

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 NHS Business Services Authority.

If you receive a UK State Pension, you can apply for your certificate via the NHS Business Service Authority’s Overseas Healthcare Service on +44 (0) 191 218 1999 (option 5).

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. Please note that different exportable benefits can have different rules in terms of healthcare cover.

Studying in Germany

This section is about studying in Germany before Brexit. Read the section Healthcare in Germany after Brexit.

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 are a UK resident studying in Germany, your UK-issued EHIC will be valid until the UK leaves the EU.

Read more about healthcare when studying abroad..

For more information about healthcare when living abroad, read the NHS guide on planning your healthcare when moving abroad.

Visiting Germany

This section is about visiting Germany before Brexit. Read the section Healthcare in Germany after Brexit.

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 in Germany. 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.

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.

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

Healthcare services in Germany

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.

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 the entire cost for medicines under €5, and between €5 and €10 for medicines that cost over €5. These costs are not refundable.

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

Read more information about travelling with controlled medicines.

Published 23 September 2019