Updated : 12/2011
Before travelling to another EU country for a short stay - whether on holiday, a business trip or studies - you should get a European Health Insurance Card from your statutory health insurer. This will enable you to get any health care you might need during your trip.
The European Health Insurance Card proves your entitlement to health care. It is the physical proof that you are insured in an EU country.
If you fall unexpectedly sick during a temporary stay abroad, the European Health Insurance Card gives you the same right to statutory health care as people insured in the country you are in, so you can visit a local doctor.
Please note that non-EU nationals cannot use their European Health Insurance Card for medical treatment in Denmark.
In addition, Bulgarian and Romanian nationals cannot currently use their European Health Insurance Card in Switzerland.
In the unlikely event that your European Health Insurance Card is refused, you can ask for help.
Even if you don't have your European Health Insurance Card with you, you are entitled to health care, although conditions of payment and reimbursement may be more complicated. In an emergency - if you are hospitalised, for example - your local health authority might be able to help by faxing or e-mailing a provisional replacement certificate.
Anna is covered by the statutory health insurance in EU country A and is spending a few months in EU country B to finish her studies. She has her European Health Insurance Card with her, issued in country A. She is pregnant and will give birth while in country B. Pregnancy and childbirth are considered urgent medical care, so Anna will get the necessary medical assistance in country B when she presents her European Health Insurance Card and identity card.
Anna will be treated in country B as if she were insured in that country. This means that if treatment is free for people insured there, it will be free for Anna too. If it is a system where people pay and then apply for reimbursement, Anna will pay the same fees as locally insured people, then apply for reimbursement. She should apply for reimbursement in country B, where she will be reimbursed at the same rate as people insured there (country B will then liaise with health authorities in country A, where Anna is insured, to get their money back).
Note that if the sole reason for Anna's stay in country B was to have her baby there, the European Health Insurance Card could be refused: she should instead make arrangements for her childbirth needs abroad before leaving for country B. That way, she can be sure ahead of time of what costs will be met.
In some countries the European Health Insurance Card is the same as the national health card. In others, you need to apply for it. You should not have to pay anything for it. You should get it from your health insurer before leaving home.
Some scam artists have set up websites where you can order your European Health Insurance Card for a fee. This is a con: do not use such services, and instead contact your public health care provider directly.
Find out more about the European Health Insurance Card in:
Please note that the European Commission is not responsible for the content of external websites.
Be sure to check with your statutory health insurer how far your health insurance covers your family members, whether they are travelling with you or staying at home while you are abroad, as national insurance policies will vary.
Depending on the rules in the country where you are staying, you may or may not have to pay for health care. When you have to pay for unexpected treatment abroad, you should claim reimbursement in that country. If you are unable to do so during your stay, you can claim the expenses in the country where you are insured on your return. The reimbursement procedure should be simplified if you show your European Health Insurance Card to the medical staff who treats you during your stay abroad.Still need help?
In this case, the 27 EU member states + Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland