Getting a Doctor in Italy

updated October 2023

Once you have sorted out your permesso di soggiorno, it’s time for the next step in making Italy Home. Getting a doctor in Italy, which really is getting a doctor in the asl, rather than a private physician. You get to choose your doctor or “medico di base” once you have registered with the local ASL or Azienda Sanitaria. But to access this service, you will need to be set up with residency, or sign up voluntarily to the national health service. Once you do that you will be able to get a “tessera sanitaria” and have full access to Italian healthcare. So first let’s look at how to get set up with the tessera sanitaria.

Step 1 in Getting a Doctor: Signing up for a Tessera Sanitaria.

The national healthcare in Italy is identified through a tessera sanitaria, which essentially means Health Card. Once you have this you will be able to access your doctor in the ASL, your general practitioner, for free. You’ll also have access to public hospitals, emergency care, and referral appointments.

You can apply for national health insurance even if you’re not officially a resident. But it can be quicker with the Residency, so a quick side note on how to get that:

Residency in Italy: To get residency you will need to have a valid rental contract. Once you have your contract, you will take it down to the local comune and request residency. Some cities are now letting you do it all online.

Step 2 going to the ASL

Once you have residency, the municipality will give you a document that states you are a resident. They will specify it is for the “ASL” (azienda sanitaria locale). When you get that official document, you then have to search for the ASL of your area. There may not be one directly in your town, but rather a local one that covers a few towns. In big cities, there may be a few and one designated for the area you live in.

Each comune is designated to a specific ASL they report to, you cannot just choose the one closest to you. Usually, you can bring the document to them and get it settled in one day. But it is always good to check to see if you need an appointment first. When you arrive at the door just say “devo scegliere un nuovo medico di base” and they will direct you to the correct office to choose your doctor in the ASL.

They will ask you for these documents:

  • the proof of residence given by the commune
  • passport (or other ID)
  • permesso di soggiorno or carta d’identita

You may or may not have to pay for insurance, depending on your permesso situation. For instance, as a student, I had to pay € 149.77 for one calendar year. This meant from January to December, and it renews every January so you will have to possibly repay. When I got my “lavoro autonomo” (freelance permit of stay) I started paying through taxes rather than directly. If you do need to pay they will ask you to go pay at the post office, then return. You have to get the specific bill documents from the post office and make sure you pay the right amount of time, based on your permesso.

Step 3 Choosing a Doctor in the ASL

After this, they will hand over a paper version of the Tessera Sanitaria, which shows proof of iscrizione (being registered) and you can choose a doctor. Later on in the mail, you should receive the classic blue card as an official Tessera Sanitaria You will be handed a list of doctors available in the area and you can choose anyone you like.

I recommend taking a minute to look at the list and check which doctor has the most available hours and a cell phone number available just in case. This way it will be easier to schedule with them. When you do need to make an appointment, you will call them directly to schedule.

Tessera Sanitaria for Non-Residents

If you do not have your residency yet, but are a student or under a work contract, you can get the Tessera Sanitaria. You will need to present yourself at the local ASL, bringing a copy of your permesso, or the receipt that it is coming, your passport, codice fiscale and a certificate stating where you live. Then you will need to pay through this form called the “iscrizione volontaria al SSN” however the cost and specific form will depend on your region and permesso. Check with your local ASL for more information and the exact cost.

If you need any help sorting out your tessera sanitaria, or residency, I can help you get better settled for your new life in Italy.

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