Obligation to treat patients coming from abroad

Everyone is always entitled to receive emergency treatment in Finnish public health care. Persons coming from abroad may also be entitled to other public health care services under national legislation, EU legislation or an international convention on social security.


Public health care is obliged to provide persons coming from abroad with the following:

Emergency treatment regardless of the person’s country of origin, nationality or reason for being in Finland.

  • Persons coming from a country other than an EU or EEC country or Switzerland must usually cover the costs of the emergency treatment themselves.

Medically necessary treatment for a person from an EU or EEC country, Switzerland or Australia who is temporarily staying in Finland.

  • Medically necessary treatment refers to treatment the patient must receive in order to safely return to his/her home country as originally planned. A health care professional, usually a doctor decides on the treatment to be provided. In assessing and arranging the treatment, the intended length of the patient’s stay in Finland must be taken into consideration. Treatment must be provided in the event of acute illness, chronic illness, pregnancy and labour.
  • A temporary stay usually refers to a stay of less than year in the country of destination for the purpose of, for example, a holiday or exchange studies.
  • A patient can receive treatment for the municipal resident’s client fee by presenting a European Health Insurance Card to the treatment provider.
  • Persons coming from Australia can demonstrate their right by presenting their passport. In addition to this, their permanent address must be in Australia.

All treatment deemed necessary when the person’s municipality of residence is in Finland. It makes no difference which country the person lives in or whether or not he/she is covered by health insurance in Finland In addition to this, treatment must be provided to persons

  • to whom Kela has granted a certificate of entitlement to medical care in Finland or some other certificate with which the right to public health care services is granted. A person may have to right access public health care services due to working in Finland or based on a pension paid from Finland. The certificate of right to treatment also includes information on treatment costs.
  • who travel to Finland from another EU country to access Finnish public health care services. The treatment must be provided in the same way as for Finnish residents, but the person must usually cover the treatment costs.

Private health care providers and independent practitioners must provide treatment to patients from EU or EEC countries or Switzerland without discrimination. The treatment must be arranged equally, on the same grounds and for the same price as for patients in the same treatment situation who reside and are covered by health insurance in Finland.

Certificates of treatment right are normally not used in private health care. Patients are responsible for covering the treatment costs themselves.

Patients coming from abroad who do not have a municipality of residence in Finland must present a certificate of right to treatment in public health care in order to receive treatment for the municipal residents’ client fee.

Certificates of entitlement to treatment consist of the following:

  • European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or substituting certificate
  • European Health Insurance Card for pensioners granted by Kela
  • personal identification (persons living in another Nordic country)
  • passport (persons living in the United Kingdom, Australia or another Nordic country)
  • certificate of entitlement to medical care in Finland granted by Kela

If the patient does not have a certificate of entitlement to treatment

If a person coming from abroad does not have a certificate of right to treatment, the actual costs of treatment can be charged to him/her.

Persons who do not have a European Health Insurance Card or have misplaced it, for example, should primarily obtain a new card or an equivalent certificate of right to treatment from their own health insurance institution.

The treatment provider will require a copy of the certificate of right to treatment to apply for state compensation from Kela for the treatment costs of a person from abroad. In addition to this, persons coming from another Nordic country, United Kingdom or Australia must have a permanent address in the country in question. The address must be listed in the application for state compensation.

Kela’s Centre for International Affairs determines the patient’s right to treatment, where necessary

If there is uncertainty with regard to a person’s right to treatment, treatment reimbursements or certificate of right to treatment, information can be requested from Kela’s Centre for International Affairs.