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What is an EHIC Card and Why Do You Need One?

    The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives citizens from Switzerland and the EU/EEA access to healthcare while traveling in the EU. While this seems like a simple concept, there is some confusion around EHIC. 


    Learn more about EHIC here. Also, find out what it’s so important to have one. 


    Getting to Know the EHIC


    While more information about the EHIC is available at, there’s also a brief overview of it here. This is a vital card for European residents and citizens who plan to travel to any country in the EU. 


    After the EHIC application is sent in, it’s possible for a person to take their EHIC to any public hospital or doctor in the EU member country. By doing this, the individual can receive free or reduced-cost healthcare. 


    The EHIC has helped to simplify procedures for Europeans who need medical assistance during travel since 2004. With the card in tow, the individual who has it can receive healthcare under the same conditions provided to a local. 


    Restrictions of the EHIC to Know


    There are several restrictions regarding what healthcare is available with the EHIC. Usually, treatments that are considered non-urgent are not covered.  


    This means understanding the conditions of the European Health Insurance Card before traveling is essential. Also, begin the application or renewal process with plenty of time before travel is planned. Usually, the local health insurer or provider in a person’s country of residence is the person’s point of contact. 


    Who Can Apply for the EHIC?


    There are only certain people who can apply for the EHIC. This includes European citizens who plan to travel within the EU (European Union), the EEA (European Economic Area), and Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland, and Norway. The travel must be for either professional or private reasons to be eligible. 


    Benefits Offered by the EHIC


    With the EHIC, the holder can receive state medical treatment just like country residents. The individual is expected to pay for the services upfront but can reclaim all or some of their costs. 

    What is paid for, how much is paid, and the reimbursable amount varies based on the healthcare policy of the country being visited. Every family member who is traveling needs their own European Health Card to ensure they can receive treatment. 


    Why is the EHIC So Important?


    It’s free to apply for and receive the EHIC. However, it is not considered an alternative to travel insurance. 


    The EHIC doesn’t cover private healthcare or if someone needs to be flown home after suffering an illness or injury. There are some situations where insurers may require a person to have the EHIC before providing coverage. 


    Can Non-EU Citizens Get the EHIC?


    The EHIC also covers a non-EU citizen who is a legal resident in an EU state and who is covered by social security in some countries. It’s best to check with the health authorities in the host country to see if this is available. 


    Getting the EHIC


    The EHIC isn’t challenging to get, or costly. If someone is planning to travel in the covered areas, they should not wait to apply for and receive the card. When the EHIC card is acquired, travelers can have peace of mind they can receive the healthcare services needed.