EU Health Insurance Card

EHIC is the abbreviation for European Health Insurance Card. With an EHIC you can receive healthcare in other EU countries. The EHIC card guarantees healthcare according to the standards of the country where the person comes from. The card entitles you to necessary medical care whilst temporarily abroad.

How can I apply for an EHIC?

An EHIC can be requested from a health care institution, it is best to request it from your health insurer. You may already have an EHIC on the back of your health insurance card. Isn’t this the case? Then request one. When you indicate that you want such a card, a healthcare institution is obliged to provide it. An EHIC card is a right for every resident of the European Union. It differs per institution how long it takes before you receive the EHIC. On average you will receive it within four working days. Are you (too) late with the application? Then apply for a temporary or emergency document, so that you can travel quickly with an EHIC pass.

How expensive is the EHIC?

The application for an EHIC is free of charge. Make sure you apply for the card at a healthcare institution: there are various parties active, also on the internet, who say that they can apply for the EHIC for you. However, the parties charge money for this, while the EHIC card is free.

In which countries is the EHIC valid?

In principle, the EHIC is available for all countries that are members of the European Union. In addition, the card is valid in a few more countries, below you will find an overview where you can use the EHIC as a citizen of the European Union:

  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus (Greek part)
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Croatia
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Malta
  • The Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Austria
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovenia
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • Czech Republic
  • Sweden

You can also use the card in the following countries:

  • Switzerland
  • Liechtenstein

For people who live in the European Union but are not citizens, the EHIC is not valid in Denmark, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

How long is my EHIC valid?

It differs per country for how long the issued EHIC is valid. In some countries, the EHIC is only valid for a few months, in others for 10 years. On average, the card is valid for 1 to 5 years. The EHIC cards issued in the Netherlands are in principle valid for 5 years. Keep an eye on the validity period, when the EHIC is about to expire, you need to request a new card. This application procedure is (almost) the same as when you apply for the card for the first time.

Can family members also use my EHIC?

An EHIC card is personal, which means that the card is only valid for you. Do you have a partner and are you travelling together? Then your partner must apply for their own EHIC card.

What can I use the EHIC for?

An EHIC card is for medically necessary treatments abroad that are not planned and take place in a public hospital or are performed by a doctor who has a contract with the national health insurance fund. The following cases are reimbursed:

  • Doctor’s appointments
  • Emergency or medical assistance in hospital after referral from a general practitioner
  • Medications Prescribed by a Doctor
  • Emergency dental treatment
  • Ambulance assistance

What does the EHIC not cover?

The EHIC does not cover the following medical treatments:

  • Scheduled medical treatments
  • When you travel to another EU country specifically to see a doctor there
  • Planned birth
  • Medical treatment in private healthcare institutions
  • Aesthetic surgery
  • Repatriation or evacuation costs

How do I use the EHIC?

The hospitals or clinics where you can use the EHIC differ from country to country. In principle, you can assume that if you do not go to a private clinic, you will be reimbursed for the care if you show the EHIC. Sometimes you may have to pay a certain amount in advance, but you will usually receive this back later through your health insurer.

The European Commission’s official website lists how to use an EHIC and how much coverage you have in each country, it may be worth checking out before you travel.

Personal information

The EHIC contains your surname, first name, identification number and date of birth. No personal medical information will be displayed on the card.

Travel insurance

Even though you might have an EHIC, it is still very important that you obtain a proper travel insurance. The card does not cover any additional costs like loss of personal items, transportation home or additional accommodation costs. Moreover, additional medical expenses (above the prevailing rate in your home country) are not covered. If you want these expenses covered, you can take out supplementary health care insurance.

In case you’ve lost your card

When you have lost your EHIC, you must contact the local authority in your home country. They will be able to e-mail you a certificate or form which will give you the same privileges as the card does.


After Brexit, the United Kingdom introduced its own EHIC, the so-called GHIC, this British variant of the EHIC works exactly the same and ensures that residents of the United Kingdom have the same access to health care when they visit a country that is affiliated with the European Union.


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linda van ReenenThe information on this page has been verified by
Linda van Reenen. She is the specialist in the field of student insurances and has been working for for over 5 years.

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