Germany has one of best health care systems in the world. You are better off than in most countries when you need medical attention.

Short & Sweet

Health care in Germany is delivered by a large network of well-trained and skilled medical doctors.

Pharmaceuticals are provided in pharmacies called Apotheken, and many require a prescription from a physician.

Who to contact when you need help

When you are experiencing dental problems, you make an appointment with a dentist called a Zahnarzt. For all other complaints, it is best to visit a general practitioner, called a Hausarzt. The GP will then decide if you require the attention of a specialist, and provide you with a referral if appropriate.

Young woman at the doctor
At the doctor © DAAD/Jan Zappner

You can find the address and telephone numbers of a GP, dentist or specialist in Germany’s Gelben Seiten yellow pages, which are . Office hours will vary widely, and many doctors close their offices on Wednesday afternoons. Best approach is to call the office and ask for an appointment. If it is urgent, you can appear without an appointment, but you will often have to wait to be seen.

Pharmacy© DAAD/contentküche

Prescriptions at the pharmacy

If the doctor provides a prescription for medication, you take it to an Apotheke to be fulfilled. You will probably have to make a co-payment of between 5 and 13 euros, and the rest will be paid by your  company, called a Krankenkasse. This only applies to medications prescribed by your physician, by the way. You have to pay the full amount yourself for other drugs.

Emergencies on the road

On autobahns there are orange-colored Notruf posts for making emergency calls. If you do not have telephone you can get help here after a road accident.

In medical emergencies

If you require immediate attention during the night or on weekends, you can go to the emergency room of the next hospital. If you cannot reach a hospital on your own, you simply dial 112 on a telephone to call an ambulance. In urgent but not emergency situations, when doctors’ surgeries are closed, on-call doctors are available through a service called Ärztlicher Bereitschaftsdienst. You can reach this service by dialling 116 117.

Two categories of medications

There are two broad groups for medications: prescription drugs and non-prescription medicines.

You can only receive prescription drugs with a doctor’s prescription, and only in an Apotheke. Germany’s pharmaceutical regulations are fairly strict. Drugs you may get over-the-counter in other countries could still require a prescription here.
Over-the-counter medications are plentiful at the Apotheke, and drug stores also have a wide selection of over-the-counter medications, including cough drops and nose sprays.

Germany’s pharmacies

You can buy over-the-counter medicines from pharmacies without a doctor’s prescription. You can even get some over-the-counter medicines in drugstores: These include remedies for coughs and colds, such as cough drops or nasal spray.


Contacting the correct person or office is important to insure that medical issues are handled swiftly and effectively in Germany.

Once the right contact is made and you have accessed the system, you are generally in good hands.