Health care in Italy


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Healthcare rights in Italy

The Italian Constitution protects health as a fundamental right of the individual. It is a right that should be guaranteed to all, even to those who are not in possession of a regular permit of stay. In Italy everybody has the right to healthcare in public and private structures credited to the national health system.

As an Asylum seeker or a beneficiary of international protection you have to enroll in the National Health Service. You enjoy equal treatment and full equality of rights and obligations with Italian citizens regarding the mandatory contributory assistance provided by the National Health Service in Italy.

There is no distinction between asylum seekers benefitting from material reception conditions and those who are out of the reception system, since all asylum seekers benefit of the National Health System.

How to Access to health care

Your right to medical assistance is acquired at the moment of the registration of the asylum request but very often the exercise of this fundamental right is hindered and severely delayed, depending upon the attribution of the tax code, assigned by Questure when formalising the asylum application. This means that it reflects the delay in proceeding to “C3”, which corresponds to several months in certain regions.  Pending enrollment, asylum seekers you only have access to emergency care and essential treatments and you can benefit from preventive medical treatment programmes aimed at safeguarding individual and collective health.

As an Asylum seeker, you have to register with the national sanitary service in the offices of the health board (ASL) competent for the place you declare to have a domicile.

What is the National Heath Board?

It is a service that covers the health needs of Italian citizens and holders of International Protection Orders.

Where to register in the National Health Board?

 In the offices of the local health board – ASL

What are the necessary documents for registration?

– The permit of Stay

– Registration in the civil status registry

– The fiscal code.

Once registered you are provided with the European Health Insurance Card, (Tessera Europea Assicurazione Malattia- TEAM), whose validity is related to the one of the permit of stay. It will guarantee your medical visits, checkups, tests and hospitalization as may be.

To whom is Medicare extended?

Medical Assistance is extended to your family members under your care regularly resident in Italy and is recognized immediately for newborn babies of parents registered with the National Health Board.

Registration entitles you to the following health services:

– Free choice of a general doctor from the list presented by the ASL and choice of a paediatrician for children (free medical visits, home visits, prescriptions, certification for access to nursery and maternal schools, obligatory primary, media and secondary schools);

– Special medical assistance through a general doctor or paediatrician’s request and on presentation of the health card;

– Midwifery and gynaecological visits at the “family counselling” (“consultorio familiare”) to which access is direct and does not require doctors’ request; and

– Free hospitalisation in public hospitals and some private subsidised structures.

More Information on how to obtain it:

1. Does my right to medical expire if my permit of stay expires?

The right to medical assistance should not expire in the process of the renewal of the permit of stay, however in practice, if you have an expired permit of stay; there is no guarantee of access to non-urgent sanitary treatments for a significant length of time due to the bureaucratic delays in the renewal procedure. This also means that if you do not have a domicile to renew your permit of stay, for example because your accommodation right has been revoked, you cannot renew the health card.

 2. Who else is supported by my medical assistance?

Medical assistance is extended to each regularly resident family member under your, as an applicant’s care in Italy and is recognized for new-born babies of parents registered with the National Health System.

Regarding the effective enjoyment of health services by asylum seekers and refugees, it is worth noting that there is a general misinformation and a lack of specific training on international protection among medical operators.

 3. How do I manage with the language barriers?

Usually medical operators only speak Italian and there are no cultural mediators or interpreters who could facilitate the mutual understanding between operator and patient. There are NGOs that can assist in your access to a cultural mediator for a faster process in the hospitals.

 4. Do I have to pay a contribution to the healthcare costs?

You as an Asylum Seeker, benefit from free of charge health services on the basis of a self-declaration of destitution submitted to the competent ASL. The medical ticket exemption is due to the fact that asylum seekers are treated under the same rules as unemployed Italian citizens, but the practice is very different throughout the country.

Specialised treatment for vulnerable groups

If you are suffering from mental health problems, you are entitled to the same right to access to health treatment as provided for nationals by Italian legislation. In practice, you may benefit from specialised services provided by the National Health System and by specialised NGOs or private entities.

If you do not have a permit of stay, you can ask for the STP card (STP = Straniero Temporaneamente Presente, foreign person that lives temporarily in Italy). With this card you have free access to outpatient and emergency hospital care, even on an ongoing basis, as well as access to preventive medicine and pharmaceutical care.

The health care can be free of charge for some medical examination, as it is free of charge for Italian citizens, such as examinations during pregnancy, the access to women clinics and to the mental health centers and some examinations made by the Department of Prevention (vaccines, HIV test and prevention, health screening) and examination for children under the age of 6 and old people over the age of 65.

You can obtain the STP card at any health centre in every city (emergency rooms, hospitals, polyclinics, consultancies, etc.) or in the place where you do the first health screening and you only have to declare your details without showing any identification.

The card has a duration of 6 months, renewable for another 6 months and is valid throughout Italy.


– For medical personnel, it is forbidden to make any report to the Police Authority. Nobody working inside the health centers can make a complaint against you (according to art. 35 comma 5, D.Leg 286/1998);

– The cost of medical visits starts from 15 euros and can be up to 100 euro. If you do not work or you have an income less than 8000 euro per year, you can apply for exemptions for the cost of any medical examinations or medicines in pharmacies. Exemptions are granted differently according to the region where you are living;

Some useful contacts:

Centro Agape – Piazza S. Chiara 10, Palermo; Phone 091/327986 *Poliambulatorio Ippocrate (

Emergency in Palermo – 2/A, Via Alagna Giacomo; Palermo; Phone 091 6211368, 091 6211269

Emergency Via Gerolamo Vida 11, Milano phone 02881881 email:  

MEDU (Medici per i Diritti Umani) – Roma Via dei Zeno, 10 phone 0697844892 mobile 3343929765  email:

MSF (Medici Senza Frontiere) Via Magenta 5 – Roma  phone 0688806000 email: 

Croce Rossa Italiana free number: 800166166 website email: