Proving your right to treatment abroad

When you are abroad, you must prove your right to treatment with a certificate of entitlement to medical care in order obtain care at the local client fee rate within the public health care system of the country in question. The type of document that can be accepted as a proof of entitlement depends on the country and purpose of your stay. The certificate of entitlement must be valid at the time of provision of treatment. The certificates of entitlement issued by Kela are free of charge.


Certificates of entitlement to medical care include the European Health Insurance Card, prior authorisation and S forms concerning residence. In the Nordic countries , Great Britain and Northern Ireland, you can also use your passport as a certificate of entitlement to medical care. The Nordic countries also accept the official identity card. In addition, the treatment provider usually needs to know your home address in Finland. Without a certificate of entitlement to medical care, you will usually have to pay all treatment costs yourself.

In Australia, you will receive treatment in the country’s public health care system in the same way and at the same price as local residents when you present your Finnish passport and Kela card to the treatment provider.

European Health Insurance Card

By presenting a European Health Insurance Card you can obtain medically necessary treatment when staying in another EU or EEA country or in Switzerland. The card is accepted by public health care and in places that have made an agreement with public health care. Temporary residence usually refers to a stay not exceeding six months in the destination country.

Medically necessary treatment is care decided on by a doctor or other health care professional. It is treatment that you must obtain in order to be able to safely continue your stay in the destination country in accordance with your original plans. A need for medically necessary treatment can arise due to, besides sudden illness, a chronic condition, pregnancy or childbirth.

A European Health Insurance Card is granted by the country where you are covered by health insurance or which is responsible for your medical costs. The card is personal, i.e. everyone must have his or her own card. A newborn child receives treatment under the mother’s European Health Insurance Card, when the treatment relates to childbirth or, for example, care for a premature baby. Later on, the child will need his or her own card. In Finland, the card is granted by Kela.

Pensioners living in another EU or EEA country or in Switzerland and whose medical care costs are paid by Finland have their own European Health Insurance Card for pensioners. The flipside of the card is lime green. The card functions in the same way outside the country of residence as the European Health Insurance Card usually does. In addition, it can be used to receive treatment in the Finnish public health care system and to receive Kela’s direct reimbursement for private health care services, medicinal purchases and ambulance transportation.

If you are unable to receive medically necessary treatment by presenting the European Health Insurance Card in the public health care system of the destination country, even if the card should be accepted, you can resolve the matter by using the SOLVIT service of the European Commission. SOLVIT informs authorities about the rights of people coming from another EU country and helps in problem situations. Read more about the SOLVIT service at www.solvit.eu.

Frequently asked questions and more detailed information about the European Health Insurance Card and the European Health Insurance Card for pensioners are available on the Kela website.

The European Health Insurance Card is known as the

  • eurooppalainen sairaanhoitokortti in Finnish
  • Europeiskt sjukvårdskortet in the Finnish variety of Swedish
  • Europeiska sjukförsäkringskortet in Swedish elsewhere
  • Carte européenne d’assurance maladie in French
  • Europäische Krankenversicherungskarte in German
  • Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea in Spanish.

The card is commonly known by its acronym, the EHIC card.

Prior authorisation

A prior authorisation is a payment commitment on the basis of which the patient’s municipality of residence will pay the actual costs of treatment provided abroad. The patient pays the same client fee for the treatment as local patients. A prior authorisation is applied from Kela. Usually, a prior authorisation is only accepted in public health care.

S forms concerning residence

If you move to another EU or EEA country or to Switzerland, and a country other than your country of residence is responsible for the costs of your medical care, the authorities that administer social security will use paper forms to register the information concerning your entitlement to treatment. Registration of a form confirms that your country of residence can invoice the country that issued the form for the costs of your medical care. You can request the form from Kela’s Centre for International Affairs.