Emergency Contraception Availability in Europe

Across Europe, there are different policies regarding access to Emergency Contraception (EC), affecting the legal status of EC generally as well as which type of Emergency Contraception Pills (ECP) are available and how they can be accessed.

Regarding levonorgestrel-only Emergency Contraception Pills (LNG ECPs), the most widely available type of EC in Europe, there are four categories of access. Starting with the most restrictive legal status, there is only one country, Malta, in which LNG ECPs are not available in any form. Eight countries, including Albania, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Macedonia and Poland require a prescription in order to access LNG ECPs. In most European countries, including Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Ireland, IsraelLatvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom, LNG ECPs are available without a prescription but are housed behind the counter, meaning that women cannot buy them off of the shelf but need to ask a pharmacist in order to access them. Finally, in 11 countries, which include Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Sweden, LNG ECPs are available over the counter, meaning that women do not need a prescription nor to interact with a health professional, such as a pharmacist, in order to purchase LNG ECPs.

Ulipristal acetate Emergency Contraception Pills (UPA ECPs), while available in most European countries since 2010, are not yet available in Albania, Estonia, Georgia, Macedonia, and Malta. For now UPA ECPs are sold with a prescription in all countries, although provision without a prescription is currently being tested in the United Kingdom.

For more information on EC access in specific countries or about specific EC pill brands, please visit the Country-by-Country Information page on this website, or the International Consortium for Emergency Contraception’s Status & Availability Database by clicking here.

The above information is based on a survey carried out by the ECEC since April 2012. If any of the above information has changed or you have more information to share about your particular country, please email us at info@ec-ec.org.