The EHIC is free of charge and you can apply or renew a card via the official EHIC online application form. Beware of unofficial websites, which may charge if you apply through them.
An EHIC will enable you to access state-provided healthcare in European Economic Area (EEA) countries, including Switzerland, at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free. It will cover your treatment until you return to the UK. It also covers treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care, providing the reason for your visit is not specifically to give birth. For more information about what is covered in each country, see our country-by-country guide.
The card is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs, such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, being flown back to the UK, or lost or stolen property. Therefore, it is important to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy. Some insurers now insist that you hold an EHIC, and many will waive the excess if you have one.
If you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment, please read our section on seeking medical treatment in Europe.
European Health Insurance Card
What is the European Health Insurance Card?
A free card that gives you access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in any of the 28 EU countries, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, under the same conditions and at the same cost (free in some countries) as people insured in that country.
Cards are issued by your national health insurance provider.
Important – the European Health Insurance Card:
- is not an alternative to travel insurance. It does not cover any private healthcare or costs such as a return flight to your home country or lost/stolen property,
- does not cover your costs if you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment,
- does not guarantee free services. As each country’s healthcare system is different services that cost nothing at home might not be free in another country.
Please note: when you move your habitual residence to another country, you should register with the S1 form instead of using the EHIC to receive medical care in your new country of habitual residence.
To apply and to learn more about the card, please visit http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/EHIC/Pages/about-the-ehic.aspx