The National Health Service provides a number of free or payment (so-called "ticket") services to both Italian and foreign citizens, through public structures or agreements with private structures.
All the students citizens of the European Union in order to be entitled to National Health Assistance should have the European Health Insurance Card.
Download the Ministry of Health "Guide to the National Health Service" (available in 9 Languages).
How to be entitled to health assistance - Health Service registration
Those registered with the Italian National Health Service (SSN = Servizio Sanitario Nazionale) will receive a health card. This document is personal and entitles its holder to health assistance (e.g. medical examinations, laboratory tests, hospital admissions). On registering, the applicant chooses a general practitioner or pediatrician, the name of whom will appear on the health card. Registering with the Italian National Health Service (SSN) is free of charge.
For foreign citizens, the health card has the same duration as the residence permit.
To register with the Italian National Health Service, the citizen must apply to the Local Health Authority (ASL) of the area in which he/she is resident, presenting a personal identity document, residence permit and self-certification of residence.
For foreign citizens from outside the European Union currently regularizing their position, thanks to the introduction of legislation covering the emergence of undeclared work, the Emilia-Romagna Regional Authorities guarantee the same health assistance as that to which foreign citizens already engaged in registered employment activities are entitled. The Health Service of the area of residence issue a temporary (6 months), renewable, health card attesting to registration, valid until the procedure for issuing the residence permit has been completed. Special legislation governs health assistance to foreign citizens staying in Italy on a temporary basis for reasons linked to tourism, study or work, and to Italian citizens resident abroad returning to Italy on a temporary basis, again for reasons linked to tourism, study or work. The legislation governing health assistance for foreign citizens residing temporarily in Italy differ depending on whether they concern:
- foreign citizens from the EU resident or domiciled in Italy since at least 3 months;
- citizens resident in countries outside of the EU that have signed bilateral agreements with Italy and holders of health insurance policies stipulated in the Countries of residence;
- foreign citizens residing in Italy on a temporary basis for study or for au pair employment;
- foreign citizens with residence permit;
- foreign citizens from countries outside of the European Union with tourist visa;
- foreign citizens coming to Italy for medical treatment.
Foreign citizens from the EU, resident or domiciled in Italy
All European Union citizens whose permanent residence is in Italy have the same rights as Italian citizens. These benefits are extended to family members from outside the European Union who have the right to stay in the country (Legislative Decree 2/2007, implementing Community Directive 38/2004). Three months after their entry into Italy, foreign European Union citizens must enrol onto the records of the Municipality of residence. They will then be compulsorily registered for the National Health Service, and consequently they will be able choose their general practioner - family doctor and / or paediatrician for their children (for citizens domiciled in Italy but not yet with permanent residence, registration with the National health service lasts for one year). Registration is performed direct at the offices of the local health authority for the place of residence.
Foreign citizens temporarily resident in Italy for reasons connected with study or au pair employment
There are special regulations regarding services provided for foreign citizens present in Italy on a temporary basis, for tourism, study or work, and likewise for Italian citizens resident abroad who return temporarily to Italy, again for tourism, study or work.
The regulations concerning services for foreign citizens present in Italy on a temporary basis vary according to the categories of citizens to whom they apply:
- European Union citizens staying in Italy for less than three months (they are guaranteed health services as necessary);
- citizens from countries outside the European Union with which there are bilateral agreements with Italy, and citizens holding health insurance in their countries of residence (they are guaranteed health services as specified in the agreements);
- citizens from countries outside the European Union for study or for au pair employment (voluntary registration with the Regional health service, on paying a fee, and receiving the health card whose duration covers the respective calendar year);
- foreign citizens holding a permit of stay (registration to the Regional health service, issue of health card);
- foreign citizens from countries outside the European Union holding a tourist visa (all health services are guaranteed, on payment, according to prices);
- foreign citizens entering Italy for medical treatment (treatment is guaranteed, as long as the entry visa has been issued by the Italian Embassy/Consulate in the country of origin, and a permit of stay for medical treatment has been issued by the Questura – Police headquarters).
Doctor on duty - Guardia medica
In Italy, the doctor on duty (guardia medica) is a free health care service you can contact by phone in emergency cases when your GP or paediatrician is not available.
The service is normally in operation during the night and on holidays.
By calling this number, a doctor will give you advice and make an in-home examination if needed. After examination and first treatment, he can prescribe medicines, issue medical certificates and suggest hospital admission.
The reference point where to have information about health assistance is the Local Health Authority (ASL).