European Health Insurance Card

The European Health Insurance Card, EHIC, allows EU residents to access medical resources when travelling outside of their EU country of residence…

European citizens and legal residents travelling within the European Economic Area, (the European Union, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland, for private or professional reasons are entitled to a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which simplifies the procedure when receiving medical assistance during their stay in a member state.

The EHIC entitles the holder to the same treatment at the same cost as a national of that country. For example, if medical care is provided free of charge in the member state where treatment is required, the claimant will be entitled to free medical care on presentation of the card or an equivalent document.

Presentation of the EHIC guarantees reimbursement of the medical costs on the spot, or soon after returning home.

In the event of treatment being required present the card at the earliest opportunity. The card is only valid for state provided services, not private hospitals or treatments.

The card is available free of charge through the local health authority of the country of residence.

  • Comprehensive, general information from the EU in English
  • The British NHS provides helpful information in English on what a visitor can expect in each of the EEA member countries. This is helpful for an English-speaking resident of France visiting another European country
  • For more information about EHIC from NHS

Note: Third-country nationals (from outside the EU/EEA) resident in the EU and holding an EHIC cannot use their EHIC in Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland. Holders of an EHIC in Denmark will only be eligible for free treatment in a public hospital in the event of:

  • A sudden illness
  • An unexpected aggravation of a chronic condition
  • An accident
  • Childbirth

The Card

The only personal information on the EHIC is the card holder's full name, a personal identification number and date of birth. The EHIC does not contain medical data. The card contains the same information in all countries where it is issued.

The duration of validity varies from country to country - find out about this when making an application.

The EHIC in France

The EHIC or CEAM (Carte Européenne d'Assurance Maladie) in France allows legal residents of France to benefit from emergency medical treatment and care when temporarily in a member country.

EU citizens receiving pensions from their home country

As of 1 May 2010, the responsibility of issuing the EHIC is no longer with a person's state of residence, but with the state where a person is paying to or benefiting from the Social Security System. This affects people receiving pensions from their EU home country rather than their country of residency. A resident of France, receiving pension in for example the UK, should now apply for the EHIC card in UK.

Applying for an EHIC (CEAM) in France

Anyone covered by the French social security system is entitled to a CEAM/EHIC

The card is issued free on request at the local Caisses Primaires d'Assurance Maladie (CPAM) office.

  • It is a plastic, non-electronic card and is valid for a maximum of one year
  • Each member of a family must have their own card, including children under sixteen
  • This card is only for use in member countries outside France and does not in any way replace the Carte Vitale. It is not a method of payment

To request a card, simply notify the relevant CPAM office at least 15 days before departure; no documents need to be provided. If a card is needed urgently, the CPAM office can provide a provisional certificate which is valid for three months.

Using the EHIC in Europe

French health organisation CLEISS publishes a helpful list of the services available to French card holders on holiday in other EEA countries.

British Residents of France

If a British national is a permanent resident of France (or on an E106) and paying into the French system, applications for the card must be made in France; the card will not be issued in the UK.

EHIC Smartphone Application

The European Commission (Directorate General Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) has developed a useful multi-language smartphone application which gives details of how to use the EHIC card in different countries within the EU. It summarises the treatments, costs, procedure for reimbursement and emergency numbers.

Travellers without an EHIC

If you don't have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or you are unable to use it, you cannot be refused treatment, but you may have to pay for it upfront and claim reimbursement once you get home.

Further Information