What is the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and what happens if I have an accident or get ill when I'm in another EU country than my own?
The European Health Insurance Card makes it easier for people insured in one of the European Union’s 27 Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland to access healthcare services during temporary visits in one of these countries.
The card ensures that these citizens will get the same access to public sector healthcare (e.g. a doctor, a pharmacy or a hospital) as people insured in the country they are visiting. If they have to receive treatment in a country that charges for healthcare, they will be reimbursed there or after returning home. The idea is that people are given the care they need to continue their stay.
Planned treatment is not covered by the European Health Insurance Card, but requires previous authorisation.
Can I apply for a European Health Insurance Card?
To be eligible for a card, you must be insured by or covered by a state social security system in any country of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. Each separate member of a family travelling should have their own card.
How do I apply for a European Health Insurance Card?
Each country is responsible for producing and distributing the card on its own territory. So, to get a card, you must contact your local health authority. In most countries, there are several ways to apply for an EHIC: in person, by e-mail, by letter, by fax, by phone or online.
Some websites are known to be offering the European Health Insurance Card in exchange for money. Please note that the card is available free of charge through your local health authority.
In the UK, the quickest way to apply for a card is online at www.dh.gov.uk/travellers or by calling the EHIC Application Line on 0845 606 2030.
How long does it take to get a European Health Insurance Card?
The delay for receiving a card varies from one country to another. In the UK and Ireland, it takes a few working days.
What happens if I forget my card or I don't receive it in time?
If the need arises, you will still receive the treatment necessary to enable you to continue your holiday without having to return home for treatment. But the card will make it easier for you to access free medical care on the spot, when available, or for you to be reimbursed if you have to pay up front. You can also ask your local authority for a provisional replacement certificate if the card is not available on time. If you are abroad, you may ask for a provisional replacement certificate to be faxed to you.