How To Get A Tessera Sanitaria In Italy – Requirements Guide

Learning how to get a Tessera Sanitaria in Italy is important because this card is required for all Italian citizens and residents to use any health services.

how to get tessera sanitaria in Italy - Access To Hospitals

San Giovanni Addolorata Hospital

It allows you to get assistance at the local health center, at the pharmacy, in the hospital or for a check-up. It also allows you to access the services and facilities of the National Healthcare System (SSN). The Health Card is free of charge and available to all citizens.

Tessera Sanitaria Requirements for Foreigners

My experience getting my Tessera Sanitaria might be different than yours because I am an Italian citizen and the process is a little bit different. Foreigners who wish to apply for a health card must first register with the National Health Service (SSN). The first question you will need to ask is are you entitled to the health card. The requirements are:

  1. You must hold a residence permit and you need to be legally employed or self-employed.

  2. Of course you will need to be living in Italy legally.

  3. Dependents of family members who meet these requirements are also entitled.

Health insurance card for Italians

I’m writing this section for people who grew up in the US, but like me obtained their Italian citizenship later in life. When we moved to Italy, after having our tax identification card (Codice Fiscale), we followed this process:

  • You can’t start the process while you are in temporary housing, like an Airbnb, so you will need to find your ‘permanent’ residence, enter into a lease agreement for your apartment in Italy and register your residence with the Office of Change of Residence and Habitation (Ufficio Cambi di Residenza e Abitazione) in the municipality of your new home.

how to get tessera sanitaria in Italy - Medical Services

List of Medical Services Available

Registering With Local Health Services

Once you are a registered resident, either a citizen or non-citizen, you will then need to register with the local health services (Azienda Sanitaria Locale – ASL). This is required to be done in person and it is also when you will learn if your residence registration was done correctly.

I mention this because our residential registration was not done correctly and it held up this process. We needed to return to the municipal offices multiple times and eventually got it cleaned up.

Required To Register For Health Services in Italy?

To register, you are required to:

  1. Go to the relevant ASL office in your zone. 

  2. Bring your identity document (i.e. passport)

  3. Bring your tax code number or card (Codice Fiscale)

  4. Bring the residence permit you received when you registered your apartment.

Now, you will need to select a doctor as your primary care physician (medico di base). If you didn’t already have one in mind from a suggestion by a friend or relative, you will need to choose one from the list of doctors posted on the wall. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of information available on the doctors apart from their name, address, phone numbers and office hours. I chose my doctor based on the office location because at this point I was prioritizing convenience,  but I also knew that I could change this as more information became available.

Getting A Temporary Italian Health Card

Once all this is done, you will receive a paper copy of your health card and can use it immediately. You will eventually receive your physical card mailed to your address in a couple weeks. At this point you are in the system.

If You Move In Italy, How Do I Get A New Health Card

If you decide to relocate to another apartment, municipality or city in Italy, you will need to return to the municipality and repeat the process for registering your address and continue again from there.

How Can Citizens of Non-EU Countries Get A Tessera Sanitaria In Italy?

Foreigners who regularly stay in Italy for a period of more than three months and who are not entitled to compulsory registration are required to insure themselves against the risk of illness, accident and maternity, by taking out a private insurance policy with voluntary registration with the health system (SSN) through the payment of an annual flat-rate contribution.

The right to voluntarily register with the SSN is for:

  • Students and au pairs even for periods of less than three months

  • Those who hold a residence permit for elective residence and do not carry out any work activity

  • Religious personnel (not compulsory to register)

  • Diplomatic and consular staff of foreign representations operating in Italy

  • Foreign employees of international organizations operating in Italy

  • Foreigners participating in volunteer programs

  • Parents over 65 with entry into Italy for family reunification after 5 November 2008

how to get tessera sanitaria in Italy - Emergency Room

Emergency Room

The amount you pay for the annual flat-rate contribution is calculated based on your income, but the amount cannot be less than 387.34€. If you are a student, the flat-rate contribution of 149.77€ is provided only if the student has no income other than scholarships or financial subsidies provided by Italian public bodies. The flat-rate contribution, for students and au pairs, is not valid if these people have dependent family members. In this case, the amount of the contribution is as if you were a regular employee.

Health Insurance In Italy Results

Knowing how to get a Tessera Sanitaria in Italy is complicated, even more so if there are problems with your residence registration, but it is an important part of integrating yourself into Italian society. Beyond the guidance above, I would strongly recommend getting assistance from someone who speaks Italian fluently. The reputation for the Italian bureaucracy has been earned and there is quite a bit of it in this process. Doing it without the language barrier would be a huge plus.

If you would like to learn more about Italian healthcare and staying healthy, these are some other articles that you might find interesting as well:

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