The morning after pill in Europe: where to find it and where you can’t find it throughout many European countries.
The European Union might be united, but that doesn’t mean the rules regarding access to emergency contraception are the same across the region. Availability varies country-by-country, so it can be hard to keep track of what the rules are where and when you’re in the midst of a European Grand Tour.
Don’t worry though – we’ve compiled a list of the rules and regulations for each country, so you’ll never find yourself in a pickle!
Not available – ask your doctor to provide you with morning-after pill in advance of travelling
Malta – Emergency contraception is viewed as an abortifacient in Malta, and abortions are illegal. However, you can have an IUD fitted within five days of unprotected sex if you really find yourself in a bind.
Available but requires prescription – book an appointment with a doctor or clinic
Albania – Can be bought for €4-6 in pharmacies. Although legally it requires a prescription, according to the European Consortium for Emergency Contraception, anecdotal evidence suggests you often do not need one.
Croatia – Available at pharmacies with a prescription at a cost of €26.
Germany – Can be bought at pharmacies, hospitals, medical practices, walk-in centres and family planning clinics for approximately €17 with a prescription. Under-18s are not charged, and women aged 18-20 only pay €5. However, Catholic-run hospitals are not required to prescribe it and can reserve the right to refuse.
Hungary – Available at pharmacies, hospitals and family planning clinics with prescriptions for roughly €18. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that it can often be obtained without a prescription in areas close to the border.
Italy – Available from pharmacies with a prescription for roughly €13. However, my own experiences suggest that physicians may well refuse to prescribe due to moral objections, so you may wish to book an appointment with a private doctor for peace of mind.
Macedonia – Visit a physician or private practice to obtain a prescription.
Poland – Available in pharmacies with a prescription to women aged 18 or over, at a rough cost of €12. For an under-18 to be prescribed emergency contraception, an in-person request must be made by a parent or guardian.
Available behind the counter – ask a chemist
Austria – May be purchased from chemists at a cost of around €13.
Belgium – Can be obtained for free when prescribed, or bought for roughly €10 directly from pharmacies.
Finland – Can be bought in pharmacies, hospitals and family planning clinics for €19 by women aged 15 or over; only one pack can be bought at a time; women under 15 require a prescription.
France – Available behind the counter from pharmacies and hospitals for roughly €7. Of this, 65% is reimbursed if you have a prescription, and there is no charge at family planning clinics, or to women under 18. Contraception can also be ordered online using France-based websites.
Georgia – Can be bought from pharmacies for roughly €5.
Greece – No prescription or proof of age required.
Ireland –Available behind the counter from pharmacies, hospitals, family planning clinics and general practitioners. The cost is roughly €40.
Latvia – Cost roughly €15 in pharmacies.
Lithuania – Available for approximately €15 in pharmacies.
Luxembourg – Available in pharmacies only with prescription.
Serbia – Available in pharmacies.
Slovenia – Can be purchased for around €14 in pharmacies.
Spain – Available in pharmacies for approximately €19, although some or all of this cost can be reimbursed if accompanied by a prescription. Emergency contraception can also be obtained free of charge from the public health sector.
Switzerland – Available behind the counter from pharmacies and family planning clinics for a cost of around €18, and can in hospitals and private practices. In some areas, the cost is partially reimbursed if contraception is purchased at a family planning clinic.
Turkey – Costs around €7 in pharmacies.
UK – Women of any age can obtain contraception free of charge from family planning centres, contraception clinics, Brook centres, pharmacies in certain areas, most sexual health clinics, most minor injuries units, most GP surgeries, most walk-in centres in England, and some hospital A&E departments. Women aged 16 or over can also buy contraception in pharmacies for roughly £25 without a prescription.
Available over the counter – pick them up in any pharmacy
Bulgaria – Available to women aged 16 or over for €14. Women under 16 require a prescription
Cyprus – Can be purchased at pharmacies for roughly €10. However, there have been importation issues since early 2013 due to the financial crisis in the region, leading to shortages. Research the situation beforehand.
Czech Republic – Can be bought for €21 by women aged 17 or over; women aged 16 or under require a prescription
Denmark – Available over the counter in pharmacies and family planning clinics for roughly €12.
Estonia – Can be purchased at pharmacies for roughly €16.
The Netherlands – Costs about €15 in pharmacies, hospitals and family planning clinics.
Norway – Available over the counter from pharmacies, family planning clinics, supermarkets, gas stations, youth health services and Norway-based Internet sites. The average cost is €26, although young people in youth health centres are often not charged.
Portugal – Costs roughly €12 when purchased at pharmacies without prescription. Can also be obtained free of charge at public family planning centres.
Romania – Can be bought for around €20 in pharmacies and family planning clinics.
Slovakia – http://gogirlguides.com/health/abortion-laws-around-the-world/ Available in pharmacies for about €22.
Sweden – Costs around €17 when bought over the counter at pharmacies, hospitals and family planning clinics. Can be obtained free of charge in various public health centres, particularly youth clinics.
If it’s been more than three days…
Note that the above information refers to the availability of levonorgestrel-only emergency contraception pills, which are the most widely available option in Europe and which are effective for up to three days after intercourse.
If it’s been more than three days but less than five, you may still be able to access ulipristal acetate emergency contraception pills, which are effective for up to five days after intercourse. These are available everywhere except Albania, Estonia, Georgia, Macedonia, Malta, Switzerland and Turkey. You will require a prescription everywhere except in the UK (where they can buy it from pharmacies provided you are over 18). The IUD is also an effective form of emergency contraception if inserted within five days of intercourse, so that may be an option to you as well.
For information on abortions around Europe and elsewhere, read our post on legality here.
If you have experience or knowledge of accessing the morning after pill in Europe, please share them below. There is an alarming lack of information out there, especially in English!