Cross-border healthcare

Policy

A number of factors are making health policies and health systems across the European Union increasingly interconnected:

  • Patients getting healthcare across the EU
  • Health professionals working in different EU countries
  • Higher expectations for healthcare
  • New developments in health technologies.

Challenges

Providing clear rules and reliable information to patients regarding access and reimbursement for healthcare received in another EU country. The new "national contact points" will do this.

Meeting patients' expectations of the highest quality healthcare, which are even higher when they seek treatment away from home. The information given by national contact points on healthcare quality and patient safety will help them make informed choices before going abroad for healthcare.

Ensuring EU countries work closer together in the interest of patients.

Clearing up years of legal uncertainty. The new rules also strike the right balance between maintaining the sustainability of health systems while protecting patients' right to seek treatment outside their home country.

EU legislation

Directive 2011/24/EU on patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare clarifies the rules on access to healthcare in another EU country, including reimbursement.
EU countries had until 25 October 2013 to pass their own laws implementing the Directive.

In September 2015, the European Commission presented a report on the operation of the Directive . This report sets out the current state of play of transposition, and covers the most important and relevant provisions, such as the use of prior authorisation, the level of patient mobility, reimbursement practices, information to patients and cooperation under the Directive. It also report on the use of delegated powers pursuant to Article 17(1) of the Directive, which requires the Commission to report on these by 24 October 2015.

In October 2016 the European Commission published a data report on the application of the Cross Border Directive in the Member States (updated version - 27 October 2016).

Cross-border Healthcare Expert Group

The Cross-border Healthcare Expert Group brings together representatives from all 28 EU countries The purpose of the group is to provide the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety with advice and expertise, and furthermore to provide Member States with a forum of exchange of experiences on the operation of the Directive 2011/24/EU. See its rules of procedure.

More information


Questions and answers
Your questions on cross-border healthcare

National contact point
On application of your rights to access healthcare in another EU country, consult Your Europe portal under section Health.
Please contact National Contact Point in your country for more detailed information.

Video

Leaflet
'To know before you go'