Travel Health Information Sheets
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles UK residents who are tourists or short term business travellers to free or low cost emergency health care in European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland. Carrying an EHIC gives you the same access to state healthcare as a resident of the country you are visiting.
An EHIC is free and valid for five years. Travelling to Europe without a current EHIC could leave you at risk of expensive medical bills. (Although some countries will expect payment towards healthcare, you may be entitled to ask for reimbursement).
The EHIC does not cover all medical costs and is not a replacement for travel insurance, so all travellers should get comprehensive travel insurance before they go. The EHIC is only valid if you produce it when you need treatment, so make sure you carry your EHIC at all times.
Further information about the EHIC scheme is available on the NHS Choices website.
EEA citizens can apply for their free EHIC online, non EEA citizens need to apply by post. Full details can be found on the EHIC application website.
Reviewed August 2013