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© European Union, 1995-2020

More than 200 million Europeans have the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which is around 40% of the total insured population in the reporting Member States. The card is valid in the EU countries plus Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The EHIC, available free of charge, entitles a person to receive medical treatment that becomes necessary on a temporary stay abroad from the host country’s public healthcare system on the same terms and at the same cost as nationals of that country. The EHIC cannot be used to cover planned medical treatment in another country.

Hospitals that provide public health services are obliged to recognise the EHIC. In the vast majority of cases, patients presenting the EHIC receive the necessary healthcare and are reimbursed without any problems.

Citizens should be aware that the card is issued for free by their national health insurance provider in the home country, without any need of paying charges to intermediaries who offer help for the application process, as it has been reported to happen in some countries. Citizens should report such cases to the national health insurance authorities.

In case the EHIC is not accepted, patients should contact the relevant health authority in the country they are visiting. The emergency contact numbers are easily accessible via the EHIC application for smartphones and tablets. In case of further refusal, patients should request support from their home country’s health authorities.

EHIC application
The EHIC application gives information about the card, emergency phone numbers, treatments that are covered and costs, how to claim reimbursement and who to contact in case you have lost your card. You can also find extra information about dialysis, oxygen and chemotherapy. In addition, in this year’s update, you can also find more about how to apply for the EHIC online and which hospitals and doctors accept the card.

The app is available in 25 languages, with the option to switch from one language to another. However, the app does not replace the EHIC.

What is the European Health Insurance Card?

A free card that gives you access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in any of the 27 EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, under the same conditions and at the same cost (free in some countries) as people insured in that country.

Cards are issued by your national health insurance provider.

Important – the European Health Insurance Card:

  • is not an alternative to travel insurance. It does not cover any private healthcare or costs such as a return flight to your home country or lost/stolen property,
  • does not cover your costs if you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment,
  • does not guarantee free services. As each country’s healthcare system is different, services that cost nothing at home might not be free in another country.

Please note: when you move your habitual residence to another country, you should register with the S1 form instead of using the EHIC to receive medical care in your new country of habitual residence.

See also European Health Insurance Card (“Third party application processors: European Health Insurance cards are provided free to all legal residents of participating countries. . .”)

Note: All images are supplied by Guidepost from various sources
Featured image/
Louis Hansel (main image); EHIC sample (Austria, reverse)/Thomas R. Schwarx, PD
Olga Kononenko