The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) can be used in all countries that are members of the European Economic Area (EEA). This is a free trade zone that consists of all 28 European Union (EU) member states and three other countries which are part of the European single market without being EU members. Also included is Switzerland, which is a member of neither the EU nor the EEA but which has negotiated access to the single market and which is therefore covered by EHIC.
The following countries are currently EU members
- Republic of Cyprus
- Czech Republic
- France – including Guadalupe and Martinique
- Greece – including all the Greek islands
- Portugal – including Madeira
- Spain – including the Canary and Balearic Islands
You should be aware that, while the following places are in Europe, they will not accept the European Health Insurance Card, so you will need to be sure you have proper travel insurance in place before you leave home to avoid very expensive medical bills.
The following countries are not EU members but are EEA members: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway.
Switzerland is not in the EU or the EEA but is covered under EHIC.
It is worth bearing in mind that some small countries which are exclusively bordered by EU/EEA countries are not covered by EHIC, so if you are visiting them you will need to ensure that you have sufficient travel insurance to cover medical bills. Those countries are:
- The Isle of Man
- The Channel Islands, including Guernsey, Sark and Alderney
- Vatican City
- San Marino
The EHIC system provides cover for medical treatment, either free of charge or at a reduced cost for citizens of EU/EEA countries travelling in other EU/EEA countries. Whether you will be charged for such treatment depends on the level of state-funded medical care that is normally given to the citizens of the country you are visiting.
You should bear in mind that each EU/EEA country has its own guidelines about how healthcare can be accessed via the EHIC system and how refunds can be claimed following payment for treatment (should it be possible to be refunded, either partially or in full). It is therefore recommended that you check what the arrangements are for the country or countries to which you are going to travel.
The EHIC card costs nothing and is intended to cover medical treatment, including for pre-existing medical conditions and maternity care, provided you did not travel somewhere with the specific intention of obtaining medical care (or giving birth). It is intended to cover medical treatment until you return home but it is not intended to cover the cost of repatriation. If you are moving to another EU/EEA country on a permanent basis, different rules may apply.
EHIC is not intended to be a replacement for travel insurance, so please make sure that you purchase a travel insurance policy before travelling.
Wherever you are travelling within the EU and EEA, the emergency services can be reached via the European emergency number (112) which can be dialled free of charge from any landline or mobile phone.