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Health and health care in Italy

If you’re thinking of moving to Italy, its essential for you and your family to have access to high quality health care.

The Italian health service comprises both private and the publicly funded Servizio Sanitario Nationale (SSN). But, the quality of this service depends in which region of Italy you’re living. The wealthy north of the country has a wider range of hospitals and medical facilities than the poorer south. This lack of uniformity of care means many nationals use their private health insurance — assicurazione sulla salute — to receive faster treatment in either a public or a private hospital.

Should you need to access either a public or private hospital in one of Italy’s major cities including Milan, Rome or Turin you’ll find that many of the health care professionals are multi lingual. In general, the quality of both private and public health care in Italy is high, with many world-renowned specialists practicing in the country — Italy boasts a total of 233,000 physicians, the second highest number in the European Union.

Your health and well-being are important, and before you leave for your new destination it’s important you know how to access the Italian health service, either by contacting the Italian consulate in your own country, or taking advice from your own government. As Italy is part of the European Union, anyone travelling from another EU country can access the health service simply by registering at your chosen Italian healthcare facility and then showing your European Health Insurance card (EHIC).

If you come from a country outside the EU, you’ll need to be contributing to the SSN to take advantage of this free service. If you’re working and are taxed in Italy, you’ll have to contribute to the national health scheme. Even if you have private health insurance, you’ll still have to make this mandatory payment from your salary. You’ll then have to register for the SSN by applying to the Azienda Sanita Locale (ASL) and request an Italian health insurance card. If you are not elible to access SSN, you may wish to consider an international health insurance policy.

If you want your family to obtain treatment under the SSN you’ll need to register for a certificate di stato di famiglia — a family status certificate. The health insurance card must be renewed annually.

Doctors and prescriptions

You’ll also be able to have your doctor’s visits and your prescription charges covered once you’re registered with the SSN. You should be aware that not all local doctors speak another language, so take a phrasebook to the surgery, or ask an Italian-speaking friend to accompany you.

Prescriptions can be obtained from any pharmacy displaying a green cross, and in some cities, it’s easy to find a 24-hour chemist. In an emergency, the magic number is 118, but, if you can’t speak Italian you can dial 112, which is an English-speaking service that covers all of Europe.


There aren’t any specific requirements for vaccinations for travelling to Italy, but if you have small children, ensure that they’re vaccinated against all the standard childhood ailments, including mumps and rubella. Immunisation against the following diseases is mandatory for children in non-private education: polio, diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenzae B, measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, and chickenpox.

Discover how you can maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle in Italy from our helpful guide.1

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