Travel plans in Europe? Or temporarily residing in a different EU country? The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is a free card provided by national health insurance providers, granting individuals access to essential, state-provided healthcare during their temporary stay in any of the 27 EU countries, along with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom under the same conditions and at the same cost as local residents.

The EHIC encompasses a range of medical benefits, offering coverage for medically necessary treatments, including those related to chronic or existing illnesses, pregnancy, and childbirth.

How to apply?You can apply either online, in person at your local health office or by post.

  • Online, if you have a medical card or drug payment scheme card and you live in Ireland here
  • In person at your local health office
  • By post
    Download and complete the European Health Insurance Card application form.
    Send the completed form to your Local Health Office.
  • If you can’t download the form, you can get an application from your Local Health Office. You should send your application well in advance of your trip.

Important to note, the European Health Insurance Card:

  • is not an alternative to travel insurance. It does not cover any private healthcare or costs such as a return flight to your home country or lost/stolen property,
  • does not cover your costs if you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment,
  • does not guarantee free services. As each country’s healthcare system is different services that cost nothing at home might not be free in another country.

Each family member needs their own card, and the card lasts for up to 4 years.

It is worth mentioning that if you plan to establish habitual residence in another country, the EHIC should be replaced with the S1 form. Registering with the S1 form ensures that you receive proper medical care in your new country of residence.
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