A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) offers protection to those travelling within the European Economic Area and Switzerland. That’s all the countries in the EU, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
An EHIC is free, lasts for up to five years, and you can get a new one for free when your old one expires.
What does an EHIC cover?
An EHIC will cover you for state-funded treatment in European Economic Area countries and Switzerland only.
You'll receive any treatment as if you were a resident of the country in which you receive it.
This will reduce the cost of your treatment, and in some cases means that treatment will be free. You may need to pay upfront before claiming back the cost of your treatment.
If you receive treatment using an EHIC, some insurers will say that you don’t have to pay the excess.
What does an EHIC not cover?
An EHIC is no good outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland. You can’t get private treatment with an EHIC either - it only covers public services.
It also won’t cover any costs incurred beyond treatment, such as being flown back to the UK. So while an EHIC is all well and good, you do need a valid travel insurance policy too.
But because it’s free, there’s no reason not to have an EHIC when visiting Europe.
Where to apply
You can apply online to get an EHIC on the official website.
Do not use third-party websites that try to charge you money for supplying an EHIC. They will not give you anything that you could not have got for free yourself.