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Throughout the EEA, every country’s healthcare system is different. This means that you might not be entitled to the services you would expect to avail of free-of-charge from the NHS in the UK. In some instances, this means you might have to make a contribution to the cost of your care while visiting another country.
What to expect from healthcare when visiting Greece
If you require emergency medical attention in Greece – for example, an ambulance – you should dial 112. Calls to this number are free of charge from any telephone, including public phones and mobile phones.
Other important numbers to note down while travelling in Greece include the following:
- 100 – police
- 166 – ambulance services (non-emergency)
- 171 – tourist police
- 108 – coast guard
- 199 – fire department
- 1016 – SOS doctors
What are SOS doctors in Greece?
SOS doctors are a Greek organisation of specialist freelance doctors. These doctors provide 24-hour home-care services in medical emergencies. However, it is important to know that SOS doctors in Greece are NOT covered by your EHIC. If you avail of the services of an SOS doctor, you will be expected to cover the full cost of your treatment.
Healthcare in Greece with your EHIC (until the UK leaves the EU)
Emergency medical care is available in Greece to anybody who requires urgent attention. If you do not currently hold an EHIC, you should expect to be charged in full for any care afforded to you. It is therefore important to arrange for EHIC renewal prior to visiting Greece as a tourist, to protect you in the event of requiring medical attention.
If you require any medical treatment abroad, you should always remember to keep copies of any paperwork or receipts/invoices, as you may need to provide evidence of these when it comes to applying for a refund post-treatment.
Your EHIC will NOT cover certain costs, including (but not limited to):
- Being transported back to the UK
- Private treatment
- Treatment on cruises (international waters)
- Mountain rescue services
The EOPYY (Greek equivalent of the NHS)
To avail of treatment with your EHIC, you will need to ensure that you are treated by an organisation that has a contract with the Greek equivalent of the NHS (EOPYY).
You can find all the information you need on the EOPYY website, which includes information of all local EOPYY offices covering all Greek regions and islands, alongside contact details of EOPYY contracted doctors.
Bear in mind that if any healthcare arrangements are made on your behalf by a travel representative or hotel, a private healthcare organisation could be used. Any costs you may incur for private healthcare are usually non-refundable under Greek law, so remember to be certain that any treatment is covered under your EHIC prior to agreeing to it.
Travelling to Greece with a pre-existing health condition
If you are intending to visit Greece and have a pre-existing condition which may or will require treatment during your stay, your EHIC should entitle you to free treatment. However, you must be wary of the services entitled to you. Avoid private healthcare providers, as you will be liable for the bill for any treatment provided by these. Before travelling, you should consult your GP for advice. You may want to bring documents describing your health condition along with information pertaining to any medication you are currently prescribed. This will allow you to better communicate with state-operated healthcare providers during your stay in Greece.
Doctors and dentists in Greece
In the event of requiring medical treatment, you should make an effort to consult an EOPYY doctor to ensure your receive treatment for free, or at least at a reduction in cost. You should always ensure that you have your EHIC card with you at all times – it’s good practice to store it in a purse or wallet that you carry upon your person. With your EHIC, you will be entitled to the same emergency medical treatment afforded to Greek nationals.
As an EHIC holder, you can also consult doctors for free at one of Greece’s newly-established National Primary Healthcare Network units. These units, known in the country as PEDY units, may also allow you to access certain dental services, which are alternatively provided at state hospitals.
Hospital treatment in Greece
In Greece, hospital treatment is similar in many respects to the UK. To access non-emergency treatment in a Greek hospital, you will require a doctor’s referral. Hospital treatment is free for EHIC holders if they have been referred by a doctor contracted by the EOPYY. If you are referred for non-emergency hospital treatment by a private clinic, you may face charges dependent on the terms of your contract. Regardless of whether you are referred privately or by the EOPYY, you will be required to display your EHIC upon admission.
Prescriptions in Greece
Any medicines prescribed by either a PEDY doctor or an EOPYY-contracted doctor can be dispensed by any pharmacy in Greece. Prices can vary dependent on the type of medication, but most persons can expect to pay a patient charge of 25%. This is non-refundable in Greece, however an EHIC will entitle you to save 75% – a not insignificant sum compared to the price of applying for an EHIC via our service.
Prescriptions must be collected within five working days of the issue date. Prescriptions not collected within this time will be deemed invalid.
If you intend to bring your own medicines to cover the length of your stay in Greece, you should be aware that some prescribed medicines may contain substances that are controlled under UK law (Misuse of Drugs legislation). Extra controls may apply to some of these medicines. As such, you may require a personal licence to allow you to take controlled medications abroad. There are specific requirements that apply to:
- The information pertaining to these medicines that you must carry.
- The way in which you carry these controlled medicines (for example, in their original packaging).
For further information on the legalities of taking controlled medicines to Greece, you should consult your GP.
Healthcare while working in Greece
If you are intending to live and work in Greece, even temporarily, you will require a Social Insurance Number. This means you will be required to register with the Greek authorities. A Social Insurance Number (known as an AMKA in Greece) is essential to allow you to work and make National Insurance contributions in Greece. At this point, you will be entitled to access the same level of state-run healthcare as Greek nationals.
Before you can access healthcare as a worker in Greece, you will be required to register with the EOPPY (known as the Greek National Organisation for Healthcare Services Provision in English). Information on how to register with the EOPPY is available from the EOPYY website. From here, you can expect to find information how you can access healthcare. The site also holds a database of contact details of all local EOPYY offices throughout the country, along with the emergency contact details of all EOPYY-contracted doctors. Please note that this information is available in Greek only.
If you are a UK worker who has been posted to work in Greece by a UK company, you could be entitled to health cover in Greece which is funded by the UK. For more information on eligibility for UK-funded healthcare, you are advised to contact HM Revenue & Customs. In some circumstances, you may be required to display your EHIC prior to receiving free or partially-funded state treatment.
What will happen to healthcare entitlements in Greece when the UK leaves the EU?
If you are living in Greece when the UK leaves the EU, the Unified Social Security Fund, also known as EFKA, should issue you with an AMKA (National Insurance) number. This will entitle you to state-operated or state-funded healthcare which can be accessed in the same way as other Greek citizens. This includes access to non-emergency healthcare.
With an AMKA number, you can register with any EOPYY-contracted doctor. You can also register with private providers, if you choose to do so. In some instances, you may be required to make co-payments before you can access healthcare. This is applicable to laboratory tests, diagnostic exams, outpatient medicine access and doctors’ visits. If you have a chronic condition or a low income (or no income), you may be exempt from co-payments. To find out more about this, you should contact EFKA in Greece.
Pensioners and healthcare in Greece
If you reside in Greece and currently receive contribution-based ESA (also known as Employment Support Allowance), a UK pension or any other exportable UK benefit, you could be entitled to state healthcare payable by the UK government. To access this, you might need to apply for an entitlement certificate, also known as an S1 certificate.
The team you liaise with to access this healthcare could differ depending on which benefits you receive. The gov.uk website contains information on claiming benefits if you live abroad. You should make yourself aware of the fact that different benefits come with different terms and conditions in relation to overseas healthcare cover.
Understanding an S1 certificate
An S1 certificate allows you and any dependants to access publicly-funded healthcare in Greece. S1 certificates used to be known as E106 certificates (not to be confused with E111 certificates – which are also known as EHIC cards).
S1 certificates are valid in Greece up until the UK leaves the EU. After this date, your S1 certificate might not be valid. This will depend on the forthcoming decisions by the member states. However, persons living in Greece and claiming exportable benefits are advised to continue with S1 certificate applications until the decision has been made after the UK leaves the EU.
You could be eligible for an S1 certificate if:
- You have worked, and paid National Insurance contributions, within the UK
- You currently receive a UK benefit, such as a pension
If this applies to you, you should contact the International Pension Centre, which is part of the Department of Work and Pensions.
Healthcare as a student in Greece
If you are a student, or are set to become a student in Greece who is enrolled on a UK-recognised course, you could be entitled to healthcare in the country which will be covered by the UK government. To qualify for this entitlement, you and your dependants will each need an EHIC. The official UK government line is to encourage persons travelling abroad to EEA countries to apply for an EHIC, and also to arrange for travel insurance.
Many travel insurance firms will refuse to offer a policy unless you hold an EHIC, which is why it is important to renew your EHIC prior to travelling within the EEA and Switzerland. Many insurers will also waive premiums if you hold an EHIC – which is why it is good practice to use our service to apply for one in plenty of time before your excursion.
As a student in Greece, you may need to apply for a student residency permit after the UK leaves the EU. This will be dependent on the terms and conditions of the remaining EU member states. Students travelling to Greece are advised to arrange for an EHIC/travel insurance and any other necessary cover prior to enrolling on their studies, as this will reduce the likelihood of having to pay the full cost of a bill in the event of requiring treatment in Greece.
Why you should use our EHIC renewal service before travelling to Greece
Our dedicated EHIC card renewal solution makes getting an EHIC as easy as can be. You can forget about tripping up over extensive form-filling. Instead, we ensure all of your information is present and correct before applying for an EHIC on your behalf. This means you won’t have to worry about getting rejected (in the event of making mistakes on the form or filling it in incorrectly).
Instead, our service makes it easy for your European health insurance card to be validated in as little as seven days, allowing you to enjoy your trip to Greece without stressing about health coverage.