Accessing Emergency Contraception in Italy


Finding emergency contraception in Italy can be tricky. You can’t just pop into a pharmacy and ask for the morning-after pill. You’re going to need a prescription from a doctor first.

If the clock is ticking and you find yourself in a bind, here’s how to get the morning after pill in Italy. 

how to get the morning after pill in Italy

How to Get a Prescription for the Morning After Pill in Italy

In order to get a prescription you have a choice: visit a private clinic, or trust in the public health system.

For a visiting tourist, this latter option usually means a visit to the emergency room. 

Italians generally tend to rely on public health care for emergencies. Private clinics – which are relatively inexpensive – are used for smaller matters, simply because it’s so much easier, more efficient and reliable.

For many, the public healthcare is a fall-back; not something to be used unless you have to.

When it comes to emergency contraception, Italian public healthcare can be fine.

how to get emergency contraception in Italy

What to Expect in an Italian Hospital 

Accessing the morning after pill in Italy – and many European countries – can be a toss up. Some providers will offer it to you quickly, while others will make you wait.

One friend visited Florence’s major hospital, flashed her European Healthcare Card at them, waited 20 minutes then was simply handed a prescription.

However, another friend visited the very same hospital, and was told that there was nowhere else in Florence she could get the prescription that day. This was totally untrue, but this girl has only recently arrived in Italy and didn’t know this. After seven hours, she still hadn’t seen a doctor.

So you can see how relying on the public health service in such matters as this can be viewed as a bit of a gamble.

In Catholic Italy, doctors are not legally obliged to prescribe emergency contraception if they are “morally opposed” to it – meaning that you could foreseeably find yourself being refused the prescription even after a frustrating wait.

For many, the gamble just isn’t worth it. 

Visiting a Private Doctor for Emergency Contraception in Italy

Visiting a private doctor in Italy can be advantageous for a number of reasons.

Private doctors in Italy are not going to cripple you financially. Consulting a doctor at the public hospital in Florence costs €25, whilst visiting a private doctor for a simple thing like contraception will only be around €30-50.

The advantages to visiting private doctors are plentiful. Seeing a private doctor means you can opt to find an English-speaking private health clinic. You can also book a same-day appointment, so you know you’ll be getting the contraception quickly. Quite often there are student or youth discounts available too.

If you can, check to see if the morning after pill is available on offer at the clinic before making your appointment.

When you find yourself in need of emergency contraception, you want to get it as soon as you can. And for that reason, I’d recommend booking an appointment with a private clinic as opposed to heading to the nearest ER. Your peace of mind is worth a little extra cost.

Have you had to take the morning after pill in Italy? What was your experience like?


About Author

Leah Eades is a compulsive traveller and freelance writer, whose adventures so far include working in an Italian nightclub, contracting a mystery illness in the Amazon, studying at a Chinese university, and cycling 700km along the Danube River. She blames cheap Ryanair flights for her addiction. Having recently graduated with an English degree, she is currently based in Florence, Italy.


  1. Awesome post Leah! I had to get emergency contraception once in New Zealand. It wasn’t that hard, but I did have to see a doctor and get an examination in order to get a prescription. Kind of a pain in the ass, and took away from my work day, but I guess it had to be done. We take for granted here that it’s over the counter!

  2. this website has a list of regular birth controls that can work as plan B… came in handy as i live overseas! as a bonus, the month pack of BC pills cost $5, and had 2 doses of plan B – compared to the $50+ it costs in the US. if you can’t find one of the kinds listed, you can google “hormone levels in _____” and compare it to the ones at the pharmacy.

  3. Pingback: Should You Get an IUD for Traveling?

  4. Pingback: How to Get the Morning-After Pill in Europe

  5. I went looking emergency contraception in Venice. After looking online I was afraid I wouldn’t be able get any without a prescription or spending all day in an emergency room. The first pharmacy I walked into gave me EllaOne, a one dose emergency contraception pill (and condoms) for 35Euro with no prescriptions and no questions asked. I’d recommend a couple different pharmacies before the trying to get a prescription.

  6. Hi Leah,
    You may want to update this post. As of 2015, several different EC pills are available over the counter in Italy. Some pharmacists may still be resistant to sell it to you because of personal beliefs, but it is available to all women over the age of 18 without prescription. I would hate for a woman to see this page and think she is not going to be able to go through the trouble of getting it when she truly could just walk into a pharmacy.

  7. Starting today, October 10, 2020, also minor girls (aged less then 18) can get the morning after pill in any Italian pharmacy without prescription!

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.