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Medical care abroad

Three things are taken into account in determining if you can get reimbursement for costs for medical care incurred abroad:

  • What is the reason for your stay abroad?
  • How long is your stay abroad?
  • Which country are you in?

When you move abroad, contact the health insurance institution in your new country of residence to check if you are entitled to medical care in your new country. You should also remember to notify Kela that you have moved.

The European Health Insurance Card and travel insurance

If you are planning on staying temporarily in another EU/EEA country, Switzerland or the United Kingdom, we recommend that you order a European Health Insurance Card from Kela well in advance of your trip. 

If you cannot get the card before you travel, you can ask Kela for a certificate that temporarily replaces the card. Kela can send the certificate to a hospital abroad, if needed.

In addition to the European Health Insurance Card, you should also get travel insurance. Travel insurance is especially important if you will be travelling to some other country than an EU or EEA country, Switzerland or the United Kingdom. If you fall ill or are injured in an accident, the costs for a return to Finland may be considerable. It can also be difficult to arrange transportation such as an ambulance flight without extensive insurance coverage. The European Health Insurance Card does not entitle you to ambulance flights or other transportation to Finland.

You can apply for reimbursements for costs for medical care incurred in EU or EEA countries, Switzerland or the United Kingdom in OmaKela or on the form Medical care expenses incurred abroad SV 128e (pdf).

Did you fall ill during a trip abroad?

Read the instructions on the website EU-healthcare.fi.

Permanently resident abroad

If you are permanently resident abroad, you are not usually entitled to reimbursements for the costs for private healthcare services incurred in Finland or abroad, nor for medicine purchases or travel costs in connection with medical care.

Kela considers you to be permanently resident abroad if you live there for more than 6 months. This time limit is not, however, absolute. 

Your new country of residence determines what kind of medical care you are entitled to. You should check well in advance of your move abroad how you can qualify for coverage by the healthcare system in your new country of residence.

Certain groups of people may be entitled to treatment or reimbursements in Finland even if they live abroad permanently. Such persons include students, who complete their entire degree abroad, and posted workers.

Temporary stay abroad

You can receive medically necessary treatment if you have a European Health Insurance Card. You only pay the local out-of-pocket fee for the treatment. If, for whatever reason, you have to pay the full treatment cost yourself, you can claim reimbursements afterwards in OmaKela or on the form Medical care expenses incurred abroad SV 128e (pdf)

Kela considers you to be temporarily resident abroad if you live there for less than 6 months. This time limit is not, however, absolute.

You cannot get reimbursement for medical costs from Kela.

Employed abroad

You are covered by the social security system of your country of employment. The country of employment is liable to arrange medical care and pay the costs. You are not entitled to the Kela card or a European Health Insurance Card granted by Finland. Your country of residence determines what kind of medical care you are entitled to.

You are still covered under the Finnish social security system. Your entitlement to medical care in Finland also remains unchanged. However, you cannot receive reimbursement from Kela for medical costs incurred outside the EU or EEA countries, Switzerland or the United Kingdom. 

Kela considers you to be temporarily resident abroad if you live there for less than 6 months. This time limit is not, however, absolute.

Your entitlement to Kela benefits will be terminated as of the time you move, if you move to work for a local employer outside the EU area for more than 6 months.

However, you can still receive Kela benefits if you work outside the EU as a posted worker. If you work for a local employer, you are no longer covered under the Finnish social security system and you cannot receive reimbursement from Kela for costs for medical care.

When you visit Finland, you are entitled to treatment in the public healthcare system only if you have a place of domicile in Finland. If you do not have a place of domicile in Finland, you are only entitled to emergency treatment. You can be charged for the costs for the medical treatment in full.

Contact Kela to find out if you are entitled to medical care. Contact information for Kela’s Centre for International Affairs.

Posted workers and diplomats

If you are a posted worker or diplomat who is staying temporarily in another EU or EEA country, Switzerland or the United Kingdom and you have a European Health Insurance Card granted by Finland, you are entitled to medically necessary treatment in your country of employment.

If you will be working in another EU or EEA country or Switzerland for more than a year, ask for a certificate S1 (Certificate of entitlement to medical care) issued by Kela. You can then register the certificate with the health insurance institution in your country of employment. After the registration you are entitled to all necessary treatment in your country of residence for a local out-of-pocket fee. The time limit of a year is not absolute. 

During the time you work abroad, you can receive reimbursement for medical care expenses incurred in Finland and abroad. You can also receive reimbursement for the costs for medicine purchases and travel costs in connection with medical treatment.

If you are a posted worker or diplomat who is staying temporarily in another EU or EEA country, Switzerland or the United Kingdom, contact Kela to find out if you are entitled to medical care. Contact information for Kela’s Centre for International Affairs

Cross-border workers

A cross-border worker is someone who lives in Finland but works in another EU or EEA country, Switzerland or the United Kingdom. Cross-border workers are covered by the social security system of their country of employment. You are entitled to all necessary medical care both in your country of employment and in Finland. You will be charged an out-of-pocket fee for the care. Please submit an S1 certificate issued by your country of employment. The certificate is not needed if you are employed in the Nordic countries.

In Finland you are also entitled to reimbursement for the costs for private healthcare services and medicine purchases and travel costs in connection with medical care. 

As you are not covered under the National Health Insurance scheme in Finland, you are not entitled to a Kela card. The European Health Insurance Card is granted by your country of employment.

Seamen

If you live in Finland and work on board a vessel carrying the flag of another EU or EEA country, Switzerland or the United Kingdom, the vessel’s flag state is responsible for your social security benefits. 

When you submit to Kela a certificate S1 issued by the flag state, you are entitled to reimbursement for the costs for private healthcare services and medicine purchases and travel costs in connection with medical care in Finland. You do not need to submit a certificate if you are working on a vessel carrying the flag of Sweden, Norway, Denmark or Iceland. 

As you are not covered under the National Health Insurance scheme in Finland, you are not entitled to a Kela card. The European Health Insurance Card is issued by the flag state of the vessel you work on.

Students and researchers

You can receive medically necessary treatment if you have a European Health Insurance Card.

You only pay the local out-of-pocket fee for the treatment. If, for whatever reason, you have to pay the full treatment cost yourself, you can claim reimbursements afterwards in OmaKela or on the form Medical care expenses incurred abroad SV 128e (pdf).

You must pay for the costs of medical care yourself. It is not possible to receive reimbursement for the costs from Kela.

Family members

Family members who move to another EU or EEA country, Switzerland or the United Kingdom have a similar right to medical care as the family member who works abroad or receives a pension.

Pensioners

Kela will check if you have the right to medical care in your country of residence on the terms that Finland pays the costs. If Kela grants you a certificate S1, you should submit the certificate to the health insurance institution in your new country of residence for registration. Your country of residence will charge Kela for you medical care costs. Kela can grant you a European Health Insurance Card for pensioners. The backside of the card is lime green.

The European Health Insurance Card for pensioners entitles you to all necessary medical care in the Finnish public healthcare system for a local user fee. You will also receive reimbursement for costs for private healthcare services, medicine purchases and travel costs in connection with medical care.

You can receive medically necessary treatment if you have a European Health Insurance Card. You only pay the local out-of-pocket fee for the treatment. If, for whatever reason, you have to pay the full treatment cost yourself, you can claim reimbursements afterwards in OmaKela or on the form Medical care expenses incurred abroad SV 128e (pdf). Kela considers you to be temporarily resident abroad if you live there for less than 6 months. This time limit is not, however, absolute.

You must pay for the costs of medical care yourself. It is not possible to receive reimbursement for the costs from Kela.

Last modified 17/8/2023

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