The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

The EHIC is free card that gives you access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay (usually considered to be up to 28 days) in any of the 28 EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, 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.

How do you obtain a card?

You obtain a card by contacting the health insurance institution where you are insured and which is therefore responsible for assuming your healthcare costs.

For more information, see this website.

Who can benefit from the card?

To be eligible for a card, you must be insured by or covered by a state social security system in any Member State of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. Each separate member of a family travelling should have their own card.

People from non-EU countries who are legally residing in the EU and are covered by an EU state social security scheme are also eligible for a card. However, nationals from non-EU countries cannot use their EHIC for medical treatment in Denmark, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

How long is the card valid for?

This varies from one country to another and is best to check when you contact your local health authority to obtain the card.

What can you do if your local authority refuses to give you a European Health Insurance Card?

If you ask for the European Health Insurance Card, your local authority is obliged to provide you with one or, failing that, with a provisional replacement certificate if the card is not immediately available. If they do not, you should be able to appeal.

If you are unsure about your rights or need information on how to ensure that your right to an EHIC is respected by your national authorities, you can contact Your Europe Advice.

What action can you take if your EHIC is not recognised abroad?

If your EHIC is not recognised by the authorities of any EU country – or Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – you can request your home insurer to contact the doctor or hospital abroad.

If this does not solve your problem, you can ask SOLVIT for help.

How to use your EHIC

The exact way it is used depends upon the country where you are using it.  See here for details.

Important notes

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.

The EHIC only covers you for short trips (up to 28 days) to other countries. If you move your habitual residence to another country, you should register with your new country using the S1 form instead of using the EHIC to receive medical care.


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European Health Insurance Card