Patients coming from abroad

Persons coming from abroad may be entitled to access public health care services even if they do not have a municipality of residence in Finland. This right can be based on national legislation, EU legislation or an international convention on health care and social security that Finland has made with certain countries. Public health care must provide patients coming from abroad with treatment to the extent necessitated by these provisions.


Persons coming from abroad for who have a municipality of residence in Finland entered in the Population Information System are always entitled to public health care services in the same way and with the same client fee as other municipal residents. The local registry offices enter information on municipalities of residence into the Population Information System.

Everyone is always entitled to emergency treatment

Everyone is always entitled to receive the emergency treatment they need in Finnish public health care regardless of their country of origin and reason for being in Finland. Patients who are not entitled to treatment in Finland based on EU legislation or a convention on social security must cover the costs of emergency treatment themselves.

EU legislation secures the right to treatment of people coming from the EU area

EU legislation provides for persons who are temporarily staying in Finland and whose treatment costs are covered by another EU or EEC country or Switzerland to receive medically necessary treatment. Tourists and exchange students are examples of people who stay temporarily in Finland.

In addition to this, EU legislation secures the right of persons working in Finland to access public health care services and receive treatment even if they do not reside in Finland. This right is always held by workers who have come from another EU or EEC country or Switzerland and, in some cases, from outside the EU area.

Citizens of EU countries can also come to Finland for the express purpose of seeking public and private health care services. The requirement for this is that one of the EU countries covers the treatment costs for the individual in question. However, in these cases, the person must pay all costs arising from the treatment and can then apply for retroactive compensation from his/her own health insurance institution.

International conventions on social security

Finland has made bilateral agreements on social security with some countries. Usually, the agreements concern pensions, but the agreements with Australia, Israel and Quebec, Canada also include regulations concerning public health care. In some cases, the agreements can provide persons covered by them with the right to receive treatment in public health care for the client fee for municipal residents, even if they do not have a municipality of residence in Finland.

International conventions on social security always separately specify the situations and groups of people to which each convention is applied.

  • The agreement with Australia concerns tourists and students staying in Finland.
  • The agreement with Quebec, Canada concerns workers, students and researchers sent to Finland.
  • The agreement with Israel concerns workers who have been sent from Finland to Israel and who do not have a municipality of residence in Finland.

Finland is also bound by the Nordic Convention on Social Security. It is not absolutely necessary to require a person coming from another Nordic country to present the European Health Insurance Card to receive treatment. Nordic citizens are entitled to use their native language in health care (Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish or Icelandic). If necessary, the treatment provider must arrange the required interpretation and translation assistance for the patient. The agreement ensures that citizens of another Nordic country are entitled to compensation of additional costs arising from the return home if they are forced to use a more expensive mode of transport than was originally intended due to their sickness. In certain situations, persons who have been treated in public health care may also be transferred to another Nordic country for follow-up treatment in which case Kela will reimburse the costs arising from the hospital transfer.

Certificate of right to treatment to be presented by persons coming from abroad

Those who do not have a municipality of residence in Finland must present a certificate of right to treatment, such as the European Health Card, to demonstrate their right to treatment. There are different kinds of certificates of treatment right and their use is situation-dependent: for example, is the person suddenly in need of medical treatment staying in Finland temporarily or is he/she working but not residing in Finland.

By presenting a certificate of right to treatment, the person will be able to access Finnish public health care services for the client fee for municipal residents. If the patient does not have a certificate of right to treatment or it cannot be obtained, the actual costs of the treatment can be charged to the patient.

In some cases, Kela can provide state compensation for costs caused to public health care for treating a person who has come from abroad.

Determining whether or not a patient from abroad is entitled to treatment

When a person who has come from abroad and does not have a municipality of residence in Finland is treated in public health care, it must be determined whether or not the person is entitled to care in accordance with EU legislation or an international convention on social security. EU legislation and international conventions on social security affect the extent of the treatment, the payments charged from the patient and the state compensation paid by Kela.

If necessary, Kela’s Centre for International Affairs will determine if the person in question is entitled to treatment in Finland on the basis of EU legislation, an international convention or national legislation. Kela’s Centre for International Affairs can also advise you in matters regarding state compensation.