Tessera sanitaria – National Health Insurance Card

The tessera sanitaria (TS) is a personal document that is given to all Italian citizens, and foreign citizens with a valid permesso di soggiorno (residence permit), after registering with the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale - SSN (Italian national healthcare system). By presenting this document you have the right to receive healthcare in Italy.

Anyone who lives in Italy has a right to receive healthcare from the State.  Non-EU foreign citizens who have a valid permesso di soggiorno (residence permit), meaning their presence in Italy is legal, can register with the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN) to receive health assistance. If you do not have a permesso di soggiorno (meaning your presence in Italy is not legal) you are still entitled to receive basic health care by requesting an STP card. When you register with Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN) you will receive the tessera sanitaria (TS).

The tessera sanitaria (TS) shows that you are registered at the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN) and have a right to receive healthcare

The Servizio Sanitario Nazionale includes all those services (hospitals, emergency room, the guardia medica, etc.) and active services which aim to protect the health of all citizens without any difference.

The tessera sanitaria includes your personal data: first name, last name, date of birth, date of expiry of the tessera and your codice fiscale (personal tax or fiscal code). You can use your tessera sanitaria also to show your codice fiscale when necessary.

In other cases, the tessera sanitaria can be used to access other online services provided by the Public Administration. In this case, the tessera needs to be activated.

Having a tessera sanitaria is important because it allows you to access different healthcare services such as:

  • Chose or change your medico di base (family doctor) and/or pediatra (pediatrician);   
  • Reserve blood tests;
  • Reserve general or special medical appointments;
  • Vaccinations, such as for COVID 19;
  • Admission to public or affiliated hospitals;
  • Obtain a ricetta (medical prescription) which is needed to purchase some medicines at the pharmacy;

Non-EU foreign citizens can apply for a tessera sanitaria if they have a regular permesso di soggiorno or a receipt to renew the permesso di soggiorno.

The permesso di soggiorno must be for the following reasons:

  • Lavoro subordinato or autonomo (Employment either as an employee or self-employment);
  • Attesa di occupazione (Awaiting employment). If you are registered on the job placement lists at the Centro per l’Impiego (employment center) and are waiting to find a job;
  • Motivi familiari (if you have a family reunification visa);
  • Cure mediche (medical treatment- only for pregnant women);
  • Attesa adozione o affidamento (Pending adoption or fostering) ;
  • Richiesta di Asilo Politico o Umanitario Internazionale (International protection request);
  • Asilo (Asylum);
  • Motivi umanitari (humanitarian reasons);
  • Protezione Sussidiaria o Internazionale (International or subsidiary protection);
  • For casi speciali o protezione speciale (special cases or protection)

Unaccompanied foreign minors regardless of the legality of their stay can be registered at the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale – SSN and receive the tessera sanitaria.

If you are a foreign worker awaiting regularization you can register with the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale – SSN. After registering, you will receive a paper tessera that is valid for 6 months, and that is renewable if the regularization procedure has not been completed within this time.

For other specific types of permesso di soggiorno (study, au pair work, etc.) it is also possible to register with the SSN by paying a contribution based on income.

To obtain the tessera sanitaria you must go to the Azienda Sanitaria Locale (ASL) (local healthcare office) of the city where you are a resident or where you live. The ASL is an office that takes care of healthcare services within a specific geographical area. 

The following documents must be presented at the ASL office:

  • the residence permit or the receipt for renewal of the residence permit;
  • the codice fiscale;
  • a self-declaration of residence or place where you live. This document must indicate where you actually live. You can also ask for and present a copy of the dichiarazione di ospitalità (declaration of hospitality) that the shelter (centro di accoglienza) where you live has sent to the Questura (police) to advise where you live.

If you do live in a shelter, ask the manager of the center or a staff member how to obtain the tessera sanitaria. Usually, they take care of registration and obtaining the tessera.

After registering at the ASL, you will receive the tessera at the address that was provided when registering.

The tessera sanitaria is free of charge!

Attention: this does not mean that healthcare is completely free of charge. Some services require that you pay a contribution called a “ticket”. The amount you pay will depend on how much you earn and on the type of service that is being requested. Read more to learn about the ticket here.

The tessera sanitaria for non-EU citizens expires with the permesso di soggiorno

You can ask for a new tessera through the ASL office by showing the receipt for the renewal of your residence permit.

If you receive a tessera sanitaria with the wrong information (first name, last name, codice fiscale, etc.) you can ask for a correct one at the Ufficio dell’Agenzia delle Entrate (National Tax Office). 

In this case, you will need to present a valid document such as the permesso di soggiorno or an electronic identity card.

If you lose the tessera sanitaria or if it has been stolen, you can ask for a copy.

In this case, you must first file a complaint with the Carabinieri or the Polizia. A copy of the tessera sanitaria can be requested through Ufficio dell’Agenzia delle Entrate or through your local ASL.

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