European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

The EHIC or "Health Card" enables holders to access medical resources when travelling outside of their EU country of residence...

European citizens and residents travelling within the European Economic Area, (i.e. 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. However if a fee is normally applicable, this may need to be paid at the time of treatment.

Note: Rule changes in 2014 now means that it is generally not possible to apply for reimbursement of medical fees normally paid by a resident or citizen of the treating country, even if a patient would normally pay nothing in their home country. However, the implementation of this change varies from country to country so it is advisable to confirm this with your health insurer upon returning home.

The card is only valid for state provided services and not private hospitals or treatments.

It is also not an alternative to travel insurance as it only covers medically necessary services.

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
  • Childbirth

The Card

Cards are issued by the institution that provides health insurance in the 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 card does not contain medical data. It contains the same information in all countries where it is issued.

The card validity period varies from country to country.

Applying for a card

Many EU countries issue the EHIC by printing the distinctive EU symbol and other relevant information on the reverse side of the standard-issue national health card or its equivalent. For those countries that require a separate application, the Europa website publishes the application process applicable to each EEC member state and Switzerland.

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.

The EHIC in Hungary

Anyone covered by the Hungarian social security system is entitled to an EHIC.

The European Health Insurance Card allows all legal residents of Hungary to benefit from emergency medical treatment and care when temporarily abroad.

Note: this is not independent travel insurance.

Applying for an EHIC in Hungary

The card is issued free of charge by the Hungarian National Health Insurance Fund (Orszagos Egeszsegbiztositasi Penztar – OEP).

  • It is a plastic, non-electronic card
  • Each member of a family must have their own card, including children under sixteen
  • This card cannot be used in Hungary (unless the card is issued in another member state) and is not a method of payment

The card is valid either for the duration of the existing health coverage or 36 months, whichever is the shortest time.

In order to claim in Hungary following treatment abroad, send all invoices to the following address:

  • Országos Egészségbiztosítási Pénztár
    At: H-1139 Budapest, Váci út 73/A

Claiming in Hungary with a card issued elsewhere

A card cannot be used within Hungary unless it has been issued elsewhere in the EU.

Doctors and dentists: To benefit from treatment it is necessary to see a doctor or dentist contracted by the National Health Insurance Fund (Orszagos Egeszsegbiztositasi Penztar – OEP). Patients must pay a small fee at each visit. This fee is higher if the patient is seen out of hours or at night time.

Prescriptions: There is a small fee for medication, and in some cases the full cost of the medicine must be paid.

Hospital treatment: Hospital care is available after referral by a doctor. An additional fee must be paid if the patient has not been referred. A referral is not required in the case of an emergency.