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Updated : 30/11/2016

Health cover for temporary stays

As an EU citizen, if you unexpectedly fall ill during a temporary stay abroad - whether on holiday, a business trip or studying abroad - you are entitled to any medical treatment that can't wait until you get home. You have the same rights to health care as people insured in the country you are in.

You should always take your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you on all trips abroad. This card is the proof that you are insured in an EU country.

If you don't have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), or you can't use it (for instance, for private health care), you can't be refused treatment, but you might have to pay for your treatment upfront and claim reimbursement once you get home.

There is a big difference in procedures between unplanned healthcare (when you fall unexpectedly ill) and planned medical treatment (if you travel abroad specifically in order to have medical treatment).

Applying for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

In some countries the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is issued together with the national health card. In other countries, you need to apply for it.

You should not have to pay anything for your EHIC. You should get it for free from your health insurer before leaving home.

Some rogue websites ask you to pay to order your European Health Insurance Card with them. Never use these sites: instead contact your public health care provider directly.

Make sure you check with your health insurer how far your health insurance covers your family members.

Find out more about the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in:

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Please note that the European Commission is not responsible for the content of external websites.

Restrictions on the use of the European Health Insurance Card

  • non-EU nationals can't use their European Health Insurance Card for medical treatment in Denmark
  • Croatian nationals can't use their European Health Insurance Card in Switzerland
  • the card will not help you with rescue and repatriation - if you need free transport back home after falling seriously ill or after having an accident while visiting another EU country, you will need separate insurance cover
  • the card does not cover you for private healthcare or the cost of planned treatment in another EU country

Sample story

Take out extra insurance for travel risks

Sven, a Swedish national, went to France on a skiing trip. On the second day of his holiday he hurt his knee skiing downhill and had to be rescued off the mountain by French rescue services. When he got home, he received a large bill for the cost of his rescue. Sven had to pay the bill in full, as search and rescue costs are not covered by the European Health Insurance Card.

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