• published on 5/13/2022
  • 4min

The European Health Insurance Card

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) replaced the E110, E111, E119 and E128 forms on 1 June 2004. The EHIC provides proof of entitlement to health insurance, and covers your healthcare within Europe.

The European Health Insurance Card

What is the European Health Insurance Card?

Are you travelling to a country within the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland?

With the European Health Insurance Card, you are entitled to health insurance and your medical expenses are covered under the legislation in force in the country you are visiting.

This means you can receive treatment without returning to your country, but it only covers you for medically-required treatment during temporary stays.

How to apply for a European Health Insurance Card

To obtain your EHIC, contact your local branch of the national health service. EHICs are not issued automatically.

They are free, individual and personal, and valid for a limited period of time. The period of validity varies depending on the country that issued the card.

Each family member must have their own card, including children under 16.

Apply for your EHIC at least 2 weeks before departure.

If you have applied too late, you will be issued with a provisional certificate. This certificate is valid for 3 months.

How to use your European Health Insurance Card

Show your EHIC when visiting the doctor or pharmacist, and when attending hospitals in the public sector.

Your medical expenses will be covered according to the laws and formalities in force in the host country.

Depending on the host country:

  • you will not have to pay your medical expenses up front, or

  • you will pay up front and then be reimbursed by Social Security locally

Restrictions on the European Health Insurance Card

The EHIC has a number of disadvantages:

  • reimbursements are based on the rates and laws in force in the host country. In some countries, healthcare is very costly and reimbursements are limited.

  • you are reimbursed only when you use public sector facilities; private medical care is not covered. In some countries, there are long waiting lists for access to treatment in the public sector;

  • it is valid only in European countries and for a limited period of time (from 1 to 6 years depending on the country in which the card was issued);

  • repatriation assistance is not covered by the EHIC.

It is therefore recommended to take out specialist international health insurance to make up for these shortcomings. If you intend to spend more than a year in France, for example, you can select a top-up health cover, specially designed for expats in France.

With a specific health insurance solution, you are covered much more extensively than with the EHIC. An international health insurance plan will provide generous medical cover, even in the private sector. You are also covered for any problems that may arise when you are abroad: repatriation insurance, personal liability for damage caused to others, theft of luggage, etc.

For real peace of mind during your time abroad, we recommend choosing a policy from our range of international insurance solutions.

Clarification and misconceptions about the European Health Insurance Card

  • The European Health Insurance Card does not replace a national insurance card,

  • It is not a means of payment,

  • It does not contain any medical information about its holder,

  • It is no longer valid in the UK since Brexit.

The EHIC can be used in the following countries:

  • Austria

  • Belgium

  • Bulgaria

  • Croatia    

  • Cyprus    

  • Denmark

  • Estonia

  • Finland

  • France

  • Germany

  • Greece

  • Hungary

  • Iceland

  • Ireland

  • Italy

  • Latvia

  • Liechtenstein

  • Lithuania

  • Luxembourg

  • Malta

  • Netherlands

  • Norway

  • Poland

  • Portugal

  • Republic of Korea

  • Romania

  • Slovakia

  • Slovenia

  • Spain

  • Sweden

  • Switzerland

To find out more

Visit the European Union website for details of the procedures in place within each European country.