Health & insurance
Before You Go
No vaccinations are required for travel to Berlin, but the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all travellers be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio.
If you are a citizen of the EU, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles you to reduced-cost or free medical treatment for illness or injury, but not emergency repatriation home. Check with your local health authorities for information on how to obtain an EHIC. Non-EU citizens should check if a similar reciprocal agreement exists between their country and Germany, or if their policy at home provides worldwide healthcare coverage.
If you need to buy travel health insurance, be sure to get a policy that also covers emergency repatriation. While some plans pay doctors or hospitals directly, note that many healthcare providers may still demand immediate payment from nonlocals. Most do not accept credit cards.
Tap water is perfectly fine to drink, although most people prefer bottled sparkling or still water. It is not customary to receive a glass of tap water in cafes or restaurants and asking for one may be met with the suggestion that you order the bottled variety.
- High-level health care is available from a Rettungsstelle (emergency department) at a Krankenhaus (hospital) or from an Arztpraxis (doctor's office). Most doctors speak at least some English, especially in the hospitals.
- The most central hospital with a 24-hour emergency room is the renowned Charité Mitte.
- For minor illnesses (headache, bruises, diarrhoea), pharmacists can provide advice, sell over-the-counter medications and make doctors' referrals if further help is needed.
- Condoms are widely available in drugstores, pharmacies and supermarkets. Birth control pills require a doctor's prescription but the morning after pill does not and is sold in pharmacies for about €16.
- German chemists (drugstores, Drogerien) do not sell any kind of medication, not even aspirin. Even over-the-counter (rezeptfrei) medications for minor health concerns, such as a cold or upset stomach, are only available at an Apotheke (pharmacy).
- For more serious conditions, you will need to produce a Rezept (prescription) from a licensed physician. If you take regular medication, be sure to bring a full supply for your entire trip, as the same brand may not be available in Germany.
- The names and addresses of pharmacies open after hours (these rotate) are posted in every pharmacy window, or call 011 41 for a recorded message of after-hour and Sunday pharmacies.