You need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before you travel – it gives the holder rights to healthcare that becomes necessary during a temporary visit to EEA (European Economic Area) countries or Switzerland.
The EHIC replaced the E111 form in Jan 2006. The E111 form is no longer valid.
There may be some restrictions depending on your nationality – visit the Department of Health website for more info about who is eligible.
Residents of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are NOT eligible.
Remember: each person in your group requires a card.
If you have an accident or suddenly become ill you’ll receive the necessary state-provided medical healthcare for at reduced cost, or sometimes free.
You’ll be treated on the same terms as insured nationals of the country you’re in.
Tip: carry your EHIC with you at all times to prove you are entitled to healthcare.
Remember: overseas state-provided healthcare may not cover things you receive for free on the NHS.
You will still need appropriate insurance to ensure you are fully covered for all eventualities.
Remember: few EU countries pay the full cost of medical treatment, even under the European Union’s healthcare arrangements.
You still need sufficient travel insurance to cover healthcare costs.
Read more information about buying travel insurance.
Many people think an EHIC will be enough and don’t take out insurance. They regret this when they have to pay thousands of pounds for an air ambulance back to the UK or pay out for extra accommodation to stay with a sick relative.
The EHIC is valid in the European Economic Area and Switzerland.
The European Economic Area is made up of all 27 members of the European Union plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The EEA has a special arrangement with Switzerland which allows the EHIC issued in any EEA member state to be used to access healthcare there.
Leaflets which provide basic information on access to healthcare in member states in Europe in a variety of circumstances are available from GP surgeries and some supermarkets in the UK.
Please note: the EHIC is not valid for UK residents travelling to the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.