Here is our guide for navigating healthcare abroad without an EHIC. If you do not have one, or if it has been lost or stolen, here is what you should do to protect yourself as much as you can.
What is an EHIC?
The European Health Insurance Card protects EU citizens when they are traveling in another country of the EU. Basically, it allows the cardholder to be treated as a resident of the country he or she is visited. For example, if you are from the UK and in need of medical assistance while you are on holidays in Greece, you will be treated as a Greek citizen would be. In most cases, treatment in public hospitals will be free of charge. However, in some cases, like in French public hospitals, you may have to pay for your treatments or a part of it. Back in the UK, you can ask for a refund for part or all the cost.
Where is the EHIC valid?
The card is valid in the countries of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. There are some exceptions like the Channel Islands, Monaco, Vatican City, and San Marino, where your EHIC will not cover in case you need medical assistance. Finally, there are also some countries out of the EEA that accept the card, such as New Zealand and Australia. To check the full list of countries, please check here >
What does it cover?
The EHIC covers you when you are traveling abroad if you need medical treatment. If you suffer from a chronic or pre-existing medical condition, your routine treatments (such as kidney dialysis or oxygen) will be covered. However, it is important to arrange these treatments in advance with your GP. We recommend you to check what is covered and not covered before you travel. You can find more details here >
Can I go abroad without an EHIC?
The EHIC is not mandatory. However, we highly recommend you to get one. The benefits and the peace of mind offered by the EHIC are unquestionable. If you are unlucky and need immediate medical assistance or operation while you are abroad, you could face very large bills. Some highly technical operations can cost £100,000 or more. If you do not have a valid EHIC, you will have to pay for these costs. The card has been created to prevent that kind of situations and offers great peace of mind.
As the EHIC does not cover all situations such as air ambulance or cruises, it works well in addition to a private travel insurance policy. More and more insurers are asking if you have an EHIC before contracting a policy with you. If you want to compare different policies, you can head to this comparison website >
If you have lost or forgotten your card, or if it has been stolen, you will still be able to receive treatment. However, you will need a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC). You can learn more about it here >
Please click here to start your EHIC application process.