European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
Launched in June 2004, the EHIC or European Health Insurance Card enables holders to access medical resources when travelling within the EU...
European residents who are covered by a social security scheme in their country of residence are entitled to a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The card simplifies the procedure when receiving unforeseen medical assistance during their visit to a member state. It should be carried when travelling within the European Economic Area, (i.e. the European Union, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland. Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory, is part of the EU, therefore EHIC cards issued in another European member state can be used in Gibraltar.
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. Each person travelling should have their own EHIC card.
The card is only valid for state provided services and not private hospitals or treatments.
Residents of new member countries may not be able to use their EHIC in certain countries, including Switzerland. It is suggested that residents of countries that have recently joined the EU verify this with the social security administration in the country of residence prior to travel.
- The EU Commission offers general information on the European Health Insurance Card
Note: Third-country nationals (from outside the EU/EEA) resident in the EU and holding an EHIC cannot use their EHIC in Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland. In Iceland, non EU/EEA nationals are only covered for emergency treatment. 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 emergency
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. For example any person receiving a pension in the UK should now apply for the EHIC in the UK, rather than in their country of residence.
The only personal information on the EHIC is the card holder's surname and first name, personal identification number and date of birth. The European health insurance card does not contain medical data. The card contains the same information in all countries where it is issued.
The duration of validity of the card varies from country to country.
Replacement of E Forms
The European Health Insurance Card replaces forms previously used within the EU:
- E111 and E111B used by tourists
- E110 used by international road transporters
- E128 used by students and people working in a Member State other than their own
- E119 used by people registered as unemployed and seeking work in another Member State
Note: The forms E111 (and others) have not been valid since 31 December 2005.
Getting an EHIC in Gibraltar
Gibraltar residents can obtain an EHIC by submitting a completed application form, which is available from the Gibraltar Health Authority. The EHIC is issued free of charge.
- Gibraltar Health Authority
At: Zone 2, Level3, St Bernard’s Hospital, Harbour Views Road, Gibraltar
Tel: 200 79700
It is advisable to apply for the EHIC at least 15 days before the planned departure date. Applications for a new card can be made up to three months before the expiry date.
Charges differ from country to country. In some countries, treatment is provided at full cost with reimbursement for a percentage available later, while in others only the actual costs that would be incurred by a resident of that country are charged up front.
- The UK National Health Service (NHS) has an online guide to the health schemes in participating EU countries
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 in different countries within the EU. It summarises the treatments, costs, procedure for reimbursement and emergency numbers.
- European Health Insurance Card app for iPhone
- European Health Insurance Card app for Android
- European Health Insurance Card app for Windows Smartphone
Information from the EU on the European Health Insurance Card