Health & insurance
Health care in Germany is of a high standard; your main risks are likely to be sunburn, foot blisters, insect bites, mild stomach problems and hangovers. Tap water is drinkable.
Before You Go
Citizens of the EU, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein receive free or reduced-cost, state-provided (not private) health-care coverage with the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for medical treatment that becomes necessary while in Germany. It does not cover emergency repatriation home. Each family member needs a separate card. UK residents can find information on how to obtain the card at www.ehic.org.uk.
You will need to pay directly and fill in a treatment form; keep the form to claim any refunds. In general you can claim back around 70% of the standard treatment cost.
Citizens of other countries need to check whether there is a reciprocal arrangement for free medical care between their country and Germany.
No vaccinations are required for travel to Germany, but the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all travellers be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio.
A signed and dated letter from your doctor describing your medical conditions and medications (including generic names) is a good idea. It is illegal to import codeine-based medication without a doctor's certificate.
Availability & Cost of Health Care
- Excellent health care is widely available from Rettungsstellen (emergency rooms) at Krankenhäuser (hospitals) and at Ärzte (doctors' offices).
- For minor illnesses or injuries (headache, bruises, diarrhoea), trained staff in pharmacies can provide advice, sell prescription-free 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.
Tap water is drinkable.
- German Drogerien (chemists, drugstores) do not sell any kind of medication, not even aspirin. Even rezeptfrei (over-the-counter) 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 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 01141.