Possible to receive treatment abroad with the European Health Insurance Card also during the coronavirus epidemic - however, avoid all travel

At Kela we often get the question how a person who falls ill abroad can receive treatment during the coronavirus epidemic. The right to treatment and the fees charged for the treatment differ from country to country and according to the situation.

In the EU and EEA countries and in Switzerland you receive medically necessary treatment for the local client fee when you show a European Health Insurance Card issued by Kela to the caregiver. Medically necessary treatment means treatment that cannot wait until the person returns to his or her home country. The need of treatment is assessed by the doctor providing the treatment. 

In the Nordic countries you do not necessarily need a European Health Insurance Card, because you can obtain treatment also by presenting a valid passport or other official ID. It is also possible to obtain treatment in Great Britain and Northern Ireland by presenting a passport. In the Australian public healthcare system, you can obtain treatment by presenting your Kela card and your passport.

You should receive treatment for a coronavirus infection for the local client fee by presenting one of the aforementioned certificates of entitlement to medical care. Furthermore, if a traveller falls ill with a coronavirus infection in a country that adheres to the international healthcare provisions of the WHO, he or she should receive treatment for the illness free of charge. See the countries that adhere to the WHO convention in the appendix to the convention.

Who is entitled to treatment in the Finnish public healthcare system?

You can also receive medically necessary treatment in the Finnish public healthcare system with a European Health Insurance Card granted by another country. Finland retrieves the costs for the treatment afterwards from the patient’s home country.

Persons from the Nordic countries do not necessarily need a European Health Insurance Card, because they can obtain treatment also by presenting a valid passport or other official ID. Persons from Great Britain and Northern Ireland can present a European Health Insurance Card or their passport. Persons from Australia can also verify their entitlement to medical care by presenting a passport stating an unlimited right of residence in Australia.

If the person is a resident of a Finnish municipality (i.e., has a place of domicile in Finland), he or she is entitled to all necessary treatment in the Finnish public healthcare system. The same applies to persons who have a European Health Insurance Card for pensioners issued by Kela or a certificate on entitlement to medical care in Finland. The person’s citizenship or country of origin are not relevant.

Other persons are entitled to urgent treatment in the public healthcare system, but they have to pay the costs for the treatment themselves.

The patient’s costs for treatment of a coronavirus infection can differ

Persons who have a municipality of residence or a certificate of entitlement to medical care, or who stay in Finland as travellers, should obtain treatment in connection with a coronavirus infection free of charge.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health recommends that the municipalities do not charge a fee for coronavirus tests or for treatment for a coronavirus infection from persons who do not have a municipality of residence in Finland or a certificate of entitlement to medical care or who are not staying in Finland as travellers. The municipalities decide themselves if they follow this recommendation. Check with the municipality that is providing treatment whether it charges a fee for treatment of a coronavirus infection and for coronavirus tests.

Further information is available from Kela’s Centre for International Affairs and on the internet

If you fall ill in an EU or EEA country or in Switzerland and you do not have a European Health Insurance Card, you can contact Kela’s Centre for International Affairs. If you pay the costs for treatment abroad yourself, you can apply for reimbursement from Kela afterwards. You can receive reimbursement for the costs regardless of the country where you received treatment. However, Kela does not reimburse any possible client fees. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there may be differences in the access to medical treatment, depending on the country. 

Concise information about the effects of the coronavirus epidemic on Kela benefits, the processing of applications and Kela’s services is available on the internet at Current information about the corona virus. The page will be updated as the situation evolves.

Fully updated on 14 September.

Additional information for customers