Registering with the National Health Service


You must register for membership of the SSN at your nearest local health authority ( Azienda Sanità Locale/ASL), whose address you will find under ASL or USL (pronounced ‘ ahsle’ and ‘ oosle’) in your local telephone directory.

You need to take the following documents with you, as applicable:

  • Your permit to stay or residence permit;
  • Your passport or other official identity document, such as an Italian driving licence;
  • A family status certificate ( certificato di stato di famiglia) if you want to claim benefits for your spouse or children;
  • Your fiscal code card;
  • A letter from your employer stating your employment start date ( dichiarazione de datore di lavoro) and a statement from the INPS that you’re regularly employed or a registration card ( attestato di iscrizione) from the unemployment office ( Ufficio di Collocamento) or proof of admission from an approved educational establishment.

Once you’ve completed the registration formalities, you’re asked to choose a family doctor with a social security agreement (convenzionato or con la mutua) and, if you have children under six, a paediatrician ( pediatra). You and each member of your family are issued with a national health number and receive a health card ( tessera sanitaria) in which all medical occurrences, e.g. illnesses, general medical care and surgery, are recorded. Health cards are valid for a year and must be renewed ( stamped) annually; if you lose your card or change your address, you must apply for a replacement.

There are certain health requirements for employees and schoolchildren in Italy. Employees who work in the food industry (bars, restaurants, food shops, factories producing food products, etc.) must obtain a health record book ( libretto sanitario) from the public hygiene office at the town hall and undergo an annual medical examination.

Schoolchildren at lower and upper secondary school are required to produce a medical certificate ( certificato di sana e robusta costituzione fisica) from their school before participating in any sports activities. Participation in a competitive sport ( sport agonistico) also requires a medical examination, which must be conducted by a specialist in sports medicine, usually at a local sports centre or your local health authority. Medical examinations for participation in sports activities are free under the national health scheme.

If you travel abroad frequently, a good way of keeping detailed health records for your family is to obtain an EU health passport ( passaporto sanitario), which is printed in eight languages and available free from pharmacies.

This article is an extract from Living and Working in Italy from Survival Books.

Further reading

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