European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

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

European citizens who are 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.

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.

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 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 - find out about this when making an application.

The EHIC in Switzerland

Switzerland's European Health Insurance Card (La carte européenne d'assurance maladie (CEAM)/ Europese ziekteverzekeringskaart) allows all legal residents of the country to benefit from emergency medical treatment and care when temporarily abroad.

Note: This is not independent travel insurance.

Applying for an EHIC in Switzerland

Application for the EHIC in Switzerland is made at the person's sickness insurance institution and the card is available free of charge. Each member of a family, including children under 16, must have their own card. Further information is available from the local social security office.

Claiming in Switzerland with a card issued elsewhere

A card cannot be used within Switzerland unless it has been issued elsewhere in the EU. Reimbursements are handled by the Institution Commune LAMal/Gemeinsame Einrichtung KVG. In order to be entitled to any reimbursement the patient must go to a doctor or hospital that is recognised by the Swiss health insurance system. Any doctor not affiliated to the Swiss health insurance system is obliged to tell the patient before the beginning of treatment.

Doctors and Prescriptions: In most cases the patient will have to pay the costs of treatment and medicines and claim reimbursement afterwards at the Institution Commune LAMal/Gemeinsame Einrichtung KVG. The costs will be reimbursed minus a small participation fee.

Hospital treatment: In most cases treatment is paid by the Institution Commune LAMal/Gemeinsame Einrichtung KVG and the patient will receive a bill for a limited sum. This fee is based on a rate calculated over a 30 day period and will not exceed a certain amount.

Dentists: In general, dental treatment is not covered by the Swiss health insurance system.

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.

Related Information

  • From the European Union website: Europa