Using health services abroad

You are free to seek and use healthcare services abroad. You are entitled to access treatment in another EU or country in the same way as the residents of the country.


Healthcare service providers in the EU countries must accept patients from other EU countries who are seeking treatment. Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland do not have this obligation, however, as they do not apply the EU´s Patient Directive.

In the EU countries, all service providers must treat clients equally on the basis of treatment need. Access to treatment cannot be accelerated or restricted on the basis of the country in which a client resides or is covered under health insurance or on the basis of their nationality.

An EU country can restrict the admission of clients seeking treatment from other EU countries only if the access of the local residents to care would be jeopardised. A destination country can restrict access, for instance, if such a large number of clients from abroad seek treatment that the access of the local residents to care would be jeopardised.

The treatment provider must notify the authorities of the country of destination before such a restriction may be imposed. You can check with the national contact point in the country of destination whether there are any current restrictions on the receiving of patients for treatment in the country of destination.

Treatment provider may require a referral

The legislation and practice of the country providing care determines the procedures relating to seeking treatment. You must have a doctor´s referral for treatment if this is a prerequisite for treatment in the destination country.

  • Check in advance whether the place of treatment requires a referral for the treatment planned and whether it should be written by a general practitioner or a specialist.
  • Find out whether a referral written in Finland can be accepted.
  • Find out the language in which the referral and any other documentation must be written too.

A doctor in Finland is not usually able to send a referral directly to a treatment provider abroad. Send a referral written in Finland and other necessary information concerning your care to the treatment provider yourself. Remember to ensure that the information is sent securely.

What kind of treatment can be obtained abroad?

Each country provides healthcare services in accordance with its own legislation and national system. A local healthcare professional will determine the treatment to be given.

When you seek treatment abroad, your care may differ from that in Finland. Treatments and procedures vary according to country.

You may receive treatment abroad that is not included in the choice of services provided by the Finnish healthcare system or which is classified as experimental or non-medical treatment. The costs incurred from treatment such as this are not reimbursed.

You can use both public and private healthcare services

You can use both public and private healthcare services in EU countries. The service provider is irrelevant in terms of reimbursement of costs incurred from treatment. You can apply to Kela retrospectively for reimbursement for treatment costs on form SV 128.

In general, it is not possible to separate healthcare service providers in EU countries into public and private healthcare in the same way as in Finland. Elsewhere in Europe, healthcare service providers can operate simultaneously both as public and as private service providers. Find out and confirm with the service provider whether you will receive treatment as a patient of the public or the private system.

When you are seeking care in another EU country, you must find out about possibilities for treatment yourself. Information about places of treatment is available, for example, from the national contact point of the country of destination.