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Updated : 27/06/2016


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 to study - 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 physical proof that you are insured in an EU country and it will simplify payment and reimbursement procedures.

If you don't have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), or you are not able to use it (for instance, for private health care), you cannot be refused treatment, but you may have to pay for it 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 is issued together with 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 for free from your health insurer before leaving home.

There are some rogue websites which claim that you can order your European Health Insurance Card for a fee. Never use them: instead contact your public health care provider directly.

Be sure to check with your statutory health insurer how far your health insurance covers your family members.

Find out more about the European Health Insurance Card 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 cannot use their European Health Insurance Card for medical treatment in Denmark
  • Croatian nationals cannot use their European Health Insurance Card in Switzerland.
  • The card will not help you with rescue and repatriation. If you require free transport back home if you fall seriously ill or suffer an incapacitating accident while visiting another EU country, you will need separate insurance cover.
  • The card does not cover you for private health care or health care costs for planned treatment in another EU country.

Sample story

Take out additional insurance for travel risks

Sven, a Swedish national, went to France to go spelunking. During one of his trips, he was trapped in a cave and had to be freed by the French rescue services. Back home, he received a huge bill, which he had to pay in full, as search and rescue is not covered by the European Health Insurance Card.

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