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The Complete Guide to the EHIC Card

EHIC is a free health insurance card for European citizens that provides the same free or low-cost healthcare as local residents. In this guide you will find information on how to apply, renew or replace an EHIC card, and a comprehensive list of countries which accept the EHIC.

The E.H.I.C.

Contents

  1. What is an EHIC card?
  2. Is EHIC card a substitute for travel insurance?
  3. How do you apply for an EHIC card?
  4. How do you renew an expired EHIC card?
  5. How do you replace a lost or damaged EHIC card?
  6. Is there an EHIC card for children?
  7. EHIC: country-by-country information
  8. EHIC tips

What is an EHIC card?

EHIC stands for European Health Insurance Card. It’s free and if you live in the UK, you’re eligible to get one. The EHIC replaced the E111 form in 2005. In brief:

  • An EHIC card allows you to get medically necessary healthcare throughout Europe on the same terms as nationals, which is often free or low-cost. This includes treatment of pre-existing conditions and maternity care.

There’s been concern over how Brexit might affect the EHIC. Although it’s unclear what will happen, there’s a possibility the EHIC could remain for UK citizens. What we know at the moment is that the UK and the EU agreed that there should be a transition period between Brexit day one on 29th March 2019 and 31st December 2020, during which UK citizens would keep same rights and guarantees as before, including the European Health Insurance Card. However, the period of implementation will only come into play if the withdrawal agreement is ratified by both the EU and the UK.

If it is withdrawn, the government has indicated it may provide a replacement scheme. Find out more about the impact of Brexit on European travel here .

The Card Info

Is EHIC card a substitute for travel insurance?

The EHIC card has lots of benefits as it means you can get low-cost or free healthcare in Europe. However, it isn’t a substitute for travel insurance for several reasons:

  • It doesn’t guarantee free treatment as each country has its own national health system. Something that’s free in one country might be payable in another.
  • It doesn’t cover things like repatriation. Should you need to come home you’ll have to pay those costs, which can be substantial.
  • The EHIC card only covers healthcare that is medically necessary, so it’s not valid if you’re travelling for the express purpose of receiving medical treatment.
  • If it’s not possible to access a public healthcare facility, you’ll have to pay for private treatment.
  • The EHIC only covers healthcare, so things like delays and lost luggage will only be covered by travel insurance .
Travel with a EHIC

How do you apply for an EHIC card?

It’s easy to apply for an EHIC card, and it’s free. Visit the official government website and create an account. Then apply for yourself, partner and dependent children by providing:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Address
  • NI, NHS, CHI or Health and Care number

Go to the official government website to apply for a free EHIC card here.

How do you renew an expired EHIC card?

An EHIC card is valid for five years and you can renew it up to six months before it expires so there’s no gap. You renew an EHIC in the same way as applying for a new one.

Go to the official government website to renew your EHIC card here.

How do you replace a lost or damaged EHIC card?

If you lose your EHIC card or it becomes damaged, you cannot apply for a replacement via the government website. Instead, you must email the EHIC department directly.

Email the EHIC department to replace a lost or damaged EHIC card here .

Lost, stolen or damaged EHIC

Is there an EHIC card for children?

If an EHIC card is required for a child under 16, the parent or guardian must register on the government website as the main applicant.

They should enter their details first and follow the prompts to apply for other cards .The child will receive his or her own EHIC card and does not need to be with their parent or guardian for it to be valid.

Go to the official government website to get an EHIC card for a child here.

EHIC: country-by-country

The EHIC is valid in over 30 countries. With each having its own national healthcare system, what’s free and what’s not varies.

Here’s a summary of the benefits in each of the EHIC countries – click on the name of a country to see full details on the NHS website:

  • Austria
    You can get free emergency treatment at public hospitals. However, if you need to be admitted there’s a daily fee. You’ll be charged reduced costs for dental treatment and prescriptions.
  • Belgium
    Ambulances, hospital stays and prescriptions are payable but you can claim up to 80% back for emergency treatment. You can agree partial payment with some dentists on presentation of your EHIC.
  • Bulgaria
    Emergency treatment is free through state healthcare providers. There is a small charge to see a doctor or dentist, and medicines are free or low-cost.
  • Croatia
    Compulsory patient contributions apply, plus you’ll have to pay a daily fee if you’re admitted to hospital. There’s a small charge to visit a doctor or dentist or get a prescription.
  • Cyprus
    The EHIC is not valid in the northern part of the country. In southern Cyprus, there are small fees for emergency hospital treatment, visits to doctors and prescriptions. Pensioners are exempt from the emergency hospital treatment fee.
  • Czech Republic
    You’ll be charged small fees for all medical and dental treatment, although ambulances are free. There is a single prescription charge that covers all items on the prescription.
  • Denmark
    Emergency hospital treatment and doctors’ appointments are free if they’re through public health service providers. Dental treatment is charged at a reduced rate to adults and is free for anyone under the age of 18. You’ll be billed in full for prescriptions.
  • Estonia
    It’s free to visit a doctor but you’ll be charged a small fee for any treatment. Dental treatment is free for those aged under 19 and in some emergency cases. There’s a small daily fee for hospital stays and you’ll have to pay for prescriptions.
  • Finland
    Some medical services are free but you’ll have to pay for most treatment. There’s also a fee for missed doctors’ appointments. Prescriptions are payable upfront and then you can claim reimbursement.
  • France
    You’ll be charged for treatment and prescriptions but can claim up to 70% back. For hospital stays, there’s a 20% patient contribution and daily fee.
  • Germany
    You’ll be billed for most healthcare services and medicine. Prescriptions have a maximum charge of €10. Medical care, dental treatment and prescriptions are free for under-18s.
  • Greece
    You can get free or low-cost medical treatment at public healthcare centres. Prescriptions are payable and must be purchased within five days of issue.
  • Hungary
    Emergency medical and dental treatment is free through state healthcare providers. Prescriptions are billed at a reduced rate.
  • Iceland
    You’ll need to contribute for most healthcare services, although inpatient hospital treatment is usually free. Those aged under 18, over 66 or receiving invalidity benefits can claim a partial refund for dental treatment.
  • Ireland
    You can get free emergency treatment through registered healthcare providers. Prescriptions must be paid for but there is a cap of €25 per family per month.
  • Italy
    Treatment and prescriptions are normally low-cost and sometimes free. There are some circumstances which provide exemption from patient contributions, like age, low income or disability. You can confirm your eligibility at the local health authority.
  • Latvia
    There are compulsory patient contributions for medical care and prescriptions. These fees are normally under €10 but are often expected to be paid in cash. Dental treatment is not covered by state healthcare and so is fully payable.
  • Liechtenstein
    If you need medical treatment, you’ll have to pay for one month’s health insurance and a portion of the costs. The health insurance fee is around £50. This is reduced to £25 for pensioners and is free for those aged under 20. Dentistry is not covered by state healthcare.
  • Lithuania
    Treatment is free through registered healthcare providers. If you have dental treatment, you may be billed for materials. Prescriptions are available at reduced cost.
  • Luxembourg
    You’ll be billed for treatment and prescriptions but can claim all or part of it back. Hospital stays incur a daily fee, although under 18s are exempt.
  • Malta
    Healthcare and emergency dental treatment is free and available at public hospitals and health centres. Unless you’re treated as an inpatient, you’ll have to pay for prescriptions.
  • Netherlands
    Emergency treatment is free, however, you’ll have to pay in full or part for general medical care.
  • Norway
    You can get free emergency care at public hospitals but for all other treatment there’s mandatory patient contribution. There’s a fee to see a GP and no subsidy on dental treatment.
  • Poland
    You can get free medical and dental care through state healthcare providers. Prescriptions are payable at a reduced cost and are free during inpatient hospital stays.
  • Portugal
    You must normally pay a contribution although some medical care is free. You’ll be charged for prescriptions at a reduced price. Your EHIC does cover dental care but waiting lists are long.
  • Romania
    You’ll need to pay a contribution upfront for general medical and dental treatment. You can claim some of this back later. Emergency care is free and prescriptions are low-cost.
  • Slovakia
    You won’t be billed for emergency care or dental treatment. Most healthcare is covered by the EHIC, however, there are substantial fees for complex medical procedures. Mountain rescue isn’t covered so you’ll be billed if you need this service.
  • Slovenia
    You can get free emergency treatment in public hospitals. Other healthcare and prescriptions must be paid for.
  • Spain
    Most medical treatment and emergency dental treatment is free through public healthcare providers. For prescriptions, adults are billed a reduced rate of 50% while pensioners only pay 10%.
  • Sweden
    There’s mandatory patient contribution so you’ll be billed for most healthcare. The exception is inpatient hospital treatment, which is free but has a small daily fee.
  • Switzerland
    You can get reduced-cost treatment through public healthcare providers, although routine dental care is not covered. If you need an ambulance, you’ll have to pay at least half the cost.
Exceptions within Europe

The following European countries do not accept the EHIC:

  • The Isle of Man
  • The Channel Islands
  • Monaco
  • The Vatican
  • San Marino

EHIC tips

  • Carry your EHIC with you and if you need medical or dental treatment, show it as soon as possible.
  • Some healthcare providers offer public and private services, and it is up to you to tell them which you want. Always clarify you want state-funded healthcare and never sign any paperwork you don’t understand.
  • You don’t have to give your travel insurance details unless you want to.

The EHIC card is a great way to protect yourself from expensive medical bills when travelling in Europe. By giving you the same benefits as nationals, you can get free or reduced-cost healthcare.

It is not a substitute for travel insurance but should be acquired as an additional safeguard. Before your trip, apply for an EHIC card and take out a comprehensive insurance policy that meets your specific travel needs.

All this information is correct as of 22 May 2018


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