A valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives card holders the right to access state-provided healthcare on temporary stays in other European Economic Area (EEA) countries or Switzerland. Treatment should be provided on the same basis as it would be to a resident of that country and is provided either at reduced cost or, in many cases, for free. The EHIC covers treatment that is medically necessary until the card holder returns home. This includes treatment for pre-existing medical conditions.

Where your EHIC Card is valid:

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

Is it a substitute for travel insurance?

No. While very useful, it’s only about medical cover. EHIC only gives you access to state-run hospitals which, depending on where you travel to, can be few or far between, and more limited.

The EHIC gives valuable protection but it should never be seen as a substitute for travel insurance.

Travel insurance has a much wider level of cover than the EHIC. For example:

  • EHIC doesn’t always mean free treatment – where it doesn’t, travel insurance usually covers it. Even in a state hospital using EHIC, you may still have to pay a substantial amount in some countries. Travel insurance should cover this, though using an EHIC may mean you won’t need to pay the excess.
  • State hospitals might not be available. While in the UK emergency treatment tends to be on the NHS, don’t assume this type of coverage will always be available. You may be taken to a private hospital.
  • Cancellation, delay, repatriation, baggage loss and theft aren’t covered. The EHIC is purely a medical policy, while travel insurance covers many other areas. See Cheap Travel Insurance for more information.