How To Get Your “European Health Insurance Card” For Free

How To Get Your European Health Insurance Card or EHIC For Free


It is not the first time we talk about travelling and studying abroad in the EDUopinions blog. For example, not so long ago we published posts about studying in France, in Great Britain, or in Granada.  When moving to another country, whichever our intention is, there is a common concern that we all should have in mind: what if something goes wrong at some point of the trip? What if I need health assistance?

This is the reason why in today’s post I am going to talk about the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), one of our essentials when thinking about travelling around the European Union and other related countries like Switzerland or Norway.

What is the EHIC?

The EHIC is a free card that allows you to get free medical care –or at least with a reduced price- in all the 28 countries that form the European Union, plus other countries related to Europe (European Economic Area) including Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland, and Switzerland.

This card allows anyone who is covered by a social security scheme in his or her home EU country to be also covered in any of the member states. You still have to be careful because, even though you will receive basic and emergency treatments, there is always the possibility that some treatments are not free in the visiting country. However, it will always be discounted.

There are other special conditions we should mention. First, if you have a chronic disease or a pre-existing condition, do not worry at all, this card will cover you and your health conditions during the whole time you spend in the foreign country. Other situation, completely different, is the case of the suffering of any condition that could be treated and thus delayed until the time you return home, this is the case of dental care. This rule is meant to prevent people from travelling with the sole purpose of getting treated.

Where to apply for it:

The application process is different in every country, which is why you have to get informed of the steps to make depending on your country of residence. Generally, what you have to do is getting in touch with the insurance institution you are insured with, find out if you are eligible for this card, and apply for it.

Remember that, in case you are travelling with someone else, you will need to get two or even more cards previously, the EHIC is personal and non-transferable. Also, this card will be valid only for a period of time, this time varies from one country to another so –even if you already have your EHIC- check out if you have to renew it before departing.

Now that we have clarified those points, you know what you need and therefore can apply for the EHIC. Check out this page and you will find out what to do depending on your country (don’t forget that IT IS FREE, the process, the mailing…everything. If it isn’t, you are not in the right place). Still, read carefully the next paragraphs so that you don’t get a disgusting surprise from your stance abroad.

Important! Keep in mind that…

  • This card is not an alternative to travel insurance. This means that it does not cover private healthcare, return flights in case of emergency… If you need some of those services you will have to pay for travel insurance yourself.
  • This card does not cover any expenses if you are travelling with the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment. I have mentioned it before but it is important to note that this kind of behaviour is prosecuted by the EU and is extremely illegal. This card is meant to serve as a way of securing the right of every European citizen to basic health care in case of an emergency, even if you do not have money to yourself.
  • This card does not guarantee free services. Each country’s healthcare system covers different services and treatments, that is why in some countries you would have to pay for some things in case of medical emergency, while in others you wouldn’t. In any case, you will always have discounted prices when using the EHIC card.

Be smart, be informed:

Health care is especially important when travelling abroad, even if you are not leaving the European Union. We all agree on that and that is why we all agree that you should always move around with your EHIC, just in case there is an emergency. However, you can get more information on this page, including information about the new smartphone application for the EHIC, informing you about the treatments covered in different countries and other news. Keep yourself up to date and you will not be surprised.

To sum up

And this is all for now, folks. This was a very short but essential post because, according to the statistics, half of the population of member countries like France or the UK (still in this program) do not have this card or even know about it, despite being essential when travelling around Europe.

If you are a newbie following the EDUopinions blog, you can go back to our previous posts like grants and how to apply or the toolbox every student needs. Also, if you like our posts, like & share on our Facebook page, comment, and give your opinion in our webpage, that will help us keep growing and helping other students. Thanks for reading and, as usual, we see each other in the next post. Have a great day!

Featured Content
Written by
Juan A.
Biólogo y Máster en Neurociencias nacido y moldeado en el noroeste ibérico. Alma de científico y naturalista recluida en un cuerpo de Homo sapiens. Fundador del blog de divulgación 'Iguanamarina: Divulgaciones, en plural' y colaborador habitual en el blog de EDUopinions.

Recent Posts

Get our experts advice for free.
Contact us.
This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Review our Privacy Policy for more details.