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Health Emergencies for Expats in Germany

Submitted: September 2013

If you are in an emergency situation, you must go to a hospital. Failure to do so promptly will only make things worse. Depending on the circumstances, you should call an emergency number or go straight to the hospital emergency room.

It is always advisable not to be alone at the hospital. Thus, you should call somebody to come with you to the hospital as soon as possible, preferably someone who speaks German.

Emergency numbers

In an emergency, dial 112 (Rettungsdienst). If you need an ambulance, you may also call 115.

Alternatively, you can call your doctor’s out-of-hours service. If you call your doctor’s practice, you may also hear a recorded message to tell you what to do if you need urgent help.


If you need a doctor urgently but you don’t know where to go, call Notdienst on Freephone 116 117. Notdienst advisers are available on a 24/7 basis, and they may tell you the best possible course of action. Calls to Notdienst are free, even from mobile phones.

Notdienst is designed to find you a doctor as soon as possible, not to help you with life-threatening emergencies. In such situations, dial 115 or 112.

Cost of emergency treatment

Healthcare is not free in Germany, and this includes emergency care and ambulances. However, emergency care expenses generally qualify for reimbursement from insurance schemes.

Medical identification tags/medical alarms

A medical alarm or a medical ID tag may save your life in an emergency situation. It is particularly helpful for vulnerable individuals living alone, such as the disabled or the elderly.

Put simply, a medical ID tag is a small device that you have to wear and it contains all your medical information. In an emergency situation, you only need to press a button to get things going. Once the emergency button is pressed, such devices may call a medically trained helpline and automatically send in your clinical data. There is no need to express yourself at all as the helpline will do all it can to help you out as soon as possible.

The market for such medical alarms is widely developed in Canada.

Travel advice

Many countries provide updated travel information to their citizens, and this often includes health advice. You should regularly check the Foreign Office website of your home country to see if there are any specific steps you need to make. Alternatively, you can go to your local embassy in Germany.



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