Thanks to the European Union agreements, free transit extends to free medical assistance within the member states. This way, citizens of EU countries can make use of needed health services via the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) under the same conditions as people insured in the visited country, sometimes fully free, sometimes in need of a co-pay, depending on the country.
The card is a personal and non-transferable document with validity in the following countries:
TIP: click on your country to be taken to the official national site of the health department, and to obtain your EHIC
Countries which are part of the European Union:
Countries which are part of the European Economic Area (EEA):
As part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA):
United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)
With this card, you will have the right to receive medical assistance in your temporary stay in any of the above mentioned states. This card cannot be used when you move to the new country (for that, you’ll need the S1 form) or if your goal is to obtain some special medical treatment. For the latter, the Health Services should need to write a favorable report in your home country. Some of the covered benefits include providing services for existing or chronic illnesses, pregnancy or childbirth.
It is important to know that:
⇒ It is a free card to obtain.
Generally, the EHIC validity extends to TWO years, you can request it via the internet, and it usually takes about 10 days to get to your home.
⇒ It does not guarantee free services, as the healthcare system varies from country to country. It guarantees that you will be treated equally, with the same rights, as the locals.
⇒ It is not an alternative to travel insurance, as it does not cover private healthcare, specific travel requirements / benefits, lost or stolen property, flights delays, repatriation, etc.
⇒ Hundreds of millions of Europeans use this card.
⇒ If you ask for the EHIC, 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 you are unsure about your rights, you can contact Your Europe Advice.
How to recognize the cards?
The front of the cards look the same in every country – like the main picture in this article. The back changes from country to country. If you are curious about the design, please click here to see more. Here are some examples:
Do you need a travel insurance? Upcoming article on why you may need one:)