How do I get Italian health insurance?

It’s flu season and it seems like everybody in Italy is sick!

Fortunately I haven’t caught this flu bug just yet (fingers crossed!), but several of my dear friends have.

Just yesterday I had to help my British friend renew her Italian health insurance card, which had expired a few weeks ago. She’s terribly sick and hasn’t been able to visit the doctor since her card had expired.

Funny thing is, when I went to check my own health card in order to give her some information on my doctor, I realized that mine too had expired! Yikes!

All this health malarky got me thinking about the first time I had to apply for health insurance in Italy and how confused I was about my health insurance options.

Which brings me to this week’s Movin’ to Italy question:

How do I get Italian health insurance?

First thing to understand is this: if you’re an American residing in Italy temporarily (as a short term student or a tourist), you’re probably best off applying for international health insurance. You can apply for this in your home country (usually online) or speak to your current health provider about your options.

If you’re an American working and living in Italy on more permanent basis, you should applying for Italian health insurance. Not only is it cheaper (at least cheaper than in the U.S.), but it also just makes more sense! You live, work and pay taxes in Italy. Since basic Italian health insurance is covered by Italian government taxes, you might as well reap the benefits, right?

So how do you get Italian health insurance?


Well, the process depends a lot on whether or not you’re an EU citizen.

For EU Citizens:

For EU citizens, it’s a little bit easier. All you have to do is go to the nearest ASL ((Azienda Sanitaria Locale = Local Health Agency) center. The ASL is in charge of issuing your Tessera Sanitaria (Italian Health Card) and registering you with a doctor of your choice.

What you need to bring:

  • An ID Card (passport)
  • Copy of your work contract (contratto di lavoro)
  • Copy of your most recent pay slip (busta di paga)
  • Fiscal code (codice fiscale)
  • Doctor information (the doctor is your choice, although the ASL usually has a list of doctors in your city that you can choose from)

For Non-EU Citizens

For non-EU citizens, the process for applying for Italian health insurance is slightly different.

In certain cases, you are entitled for free registration with the SSN (Servizio Sanitaria Nazionale = Nationanl Health Service). These cases include:

  • Self-employment or employment (subordinato)
  • Family reasons
  • Refugee status or subsidiary protection
  • Adoption wait
  • Possession of a stay permit for health reasons or pregnancy
  • Citizenship acquisition

In other cases, you can enroll in the SSN on a voluntary basis, paying an annual fee (for students its around 150 euro, for others it might be a bit more). These cases include:

  • Studying in Italy
  • Elective residence in Italy
  • Au Pairs
  • Religious staff
  • Over-65 reunified parents
  • Employees of internaitonal organizations working in Italy

How to Apply for Italian Health Insurance for Non-EU Citizens

1) If you haven’t already, you need to apply for residency (if you are an EU citizen this isn’t necessary). You can do this by visiting the sportello del cittadino nearest you and completing the application.

2) Pay a visit to the ASL (Azienda Sanitaria Locale = Local Health Agency) center in your area. The ASL is in charge of issuing your Tessera Sanitaria (Italian Health Card) and registering you with a general practitioner of your choice.

What you need to bring:

  • Permit of stay card (permesso di soggiorno)
  • Residency card (carta d’identita)
  • Copy of your work contract (contratto di lavoro)
  • Copy of your most recent work pay slip (busta di paga)
  • Doctor information (your choice, or they can help you choose one)
  • Fiscal Code (codice fiscale)

Once registered, you will be given a “documento personale di iscrizione al servizio sanitario nazionale” – a little green card with information about your doctor – and your Tessera Sanitaria card will be mailed to you.

These documents are important because without them you can only be treated through private care (=expensive) or by the hospital (=waiting long hours to see a doctor). Don’t wait until you are sick to apply for Italian health insurance! It’s much better to have it before its too late.

For more detailed information on Italian health insurance, please visit the following sites:



Movin_to_italy_faqMovin’ to Italy FAQ is weekly blog series. Every Friday, I post common questions from readers about movin’ to Italy. All answers are based on my personal experiences and knowledge. For previous Movin’ to Italy questions, please visit my Moving to Italy page.

12 comments on “How do I get Italian health insurance?

  1. We’re moving to Tuscany in April so really enjoying “Moving to Italy” series. Any tips on acquiring health insurance as a resident on an “Elective Residence” or retirement long stay visa?

    • Hi Jack! I think with an elective residence permit you would qualify for “voluntary enrollment” with the SSN (Servizio Sanitaria Nazionale). This means that you aren’t entitled for free enrollment, but that if you’d like you can pay an annual fee (200-400 euro/year depending on the number of dependents in your family) and be enrolled. This would entitle you to register with a General Practitioner here and would cover your basic medical expenses. Otherwise, you can apply for overseas health insurance to cover you and your family while you are here.

      I had to pay the fee the first few years I was here one a student visa. The reason why students and elettive residence visas have to pay is because you don’t pay the same taxes that workers do.

      For more details, read here:

      • Thank you Sarah. That’s what I thought. I hope we (my wife Sherry & I) can share a glass of wine in person with you this spring. Grazie mille.


      • Hi, Sarah. Where does one pay the fee for SNN services if student or elective resident? I have read that you have to pay your fee at the post office and then take the receipt to ASL. What is the protocol for paying the fee?

        • Hi Dianna, Yes that’s correct. You need to go to the post office and pay for it first, then bring your receipt tot he ASL center. I can’t remember the details on who you make the payment out to, but I think you can ask the post office or ASL and they should be able to help you.

  2. Hello! Thanks for this post! So in your list of required docs, it says pay stubs and contract for work. If I am there for long stay study (1 year), do I have to bring this? Is my school registration enough, and the yearly fee to register for the health card? And to be clear, the health card entitles me to the public health insurance that Italy offers, is that correct? Thanks for your help!

    • If you are there for study, you don’t need your pay stubs and work contract. Just show them your permesso di soggiorno and they will tell you that you need to purchase student health insurance (around 100 euro / year). Unfortunately, it isn’t free, but yes it does entitle you to basic public health insurance.

      • Ha! Well thank you for replying. I am actually here, with Permesso, the insurance and just left a doc appointment. :) it is a lot to do (go here to pay this, go there to choose doc, go there make appointment). So everything has gone as planned, only slowly of course. “Piena, piena”
        Thanks again!