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The European Health Insurance Card

Information

The following information explains how to apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you are living in Ireland or living in another EU/EEA State and are linked to the Irish Social Security System. If you live in Ireland but you are linked to another EU/EEA State's Social Security System, contact the health authorities in that country for more information.

If you are an EU/EEA national and are travelling or staying temporarily in another state of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you are entitled to receive medical care if you become ill or have an accident.

If you are a student or a seconded worker, or if you are entitled to a social security pension in that state, you will be entitled to health care beyond the immediate treatment.

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) replaced the E111 form and a number of other 'E' forms including the E128, making it easier for you to get medical care quickly and easily. It is evidence that you are part of a health insurance scheme administered by another state in the EEA/Switzerland. To obtain healthcare with the Card, you can go to the nearest public system doctor, public hospital, or other public treatment centre and present your Card.

Public health care systems vary from country to country, and few countries pay the full cost of health care for holders of the Card, so there may be some element of co-payment for the services you receive.

Currently, the EEA comprises the 28 member states of the European Union together with Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Your European Health Insurance Card is valid for use throughout any of these countries and in Switzerland.

Where can I use my European Health Insurance Card?

In any EU/EEA Country and in Switzerland. Follow this link to find out where you can use your Card and how to access care abroad.

If the country you are visiting is not among those listed, you cannot use an European Health Insurance Card there and you should obtain private health insurance instead.

Andorra and Monaco are not part of the EU (they are separate principalities). As they are not part of the EU, they are not subject to EU regulations and your European Health Insurance Card is not acceptable there. You are advised to obtain private health insurance instead.

Can non-EU nationals apply for and use European Health Insurance Cards?

Under Regulation 859/2003 any non-EU national, their family members or survivors legally resident in the territory of an EU member state may apply for and use a European Health Insurance Card or Temporary Replacement Certificate while on temporary visits between member states. However, they cannot use their card for medical treatment in Denmark, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.

Rules

You can only apply for an European Health Insurance Card from the Irish health authorities if you are:

  • Ordinarily resident in Ireland and you are not receiving a Social Insurance payment from another EU State or paying another EU State's Social Insurance, or you are not the dependant of such a person.
  • Resident in another EU State and you are receiving an Irish Social Insurance payment or paying Irish Social Insurance, or you are a dependant of such a person.

Like the old E111, the European Health Insurance Card only entitles you to the state-funded health care scheme in the country in which you are staying. It will not cover any of the costs involved in transporting you back to Ireland.

Every individual member of the family or group will require their own card.

Each European Health Insurance Card will be valid throughout the EEA and Switzerland for up to 2 years.

You can get a European Health Insurance Card in Ireland if you are ordinarily resident here.

The European Health Insurance Card will not cover you for health care in any country outside the EEA, with the exception of Switzerland.

You don’t need a European Health Insurance Card to get necessary health care while on a temporary visit to the UK if you are an Irish resident. It is enough to show proof that you are ordinarily resident in Ireland. (In practice, proof that you are ordinarily resident in Ireland means a driving licence, Irish passport or similar document.)

What is 'necessary health care' for the purposes of using my European Health Insurance Card?

The term 'necessary care' was defined under decision 194 of 2003 by the Administrative Commission on Social Security for Migrant Workers. That decision defines necessary care as benefits granted with a view to preventing an insured person from being forced to return home to their home member state and enabling them to continue their temporary stay in another member state under safe medical conditions. The decision specifically states that it does not cover persons who travel within Europe in order to obtain treatment in a country other than that in which they are insured.

There is further information regarding the rights and obligations of those who hold and use a European Health Insurance Card here.

How do I renew my European Health Insurance Card?

Your Card will not be renewed automatically - instead, you must apply to renew your Card. See 'How to apply' below for instructions.

Remember, if any of your details have changed (e.g. address, etc.) since your last card was issued you must contact your Local Health Office to have this information updated in advance of renewal.

What if I don't have my Card before I travel?

If you don't have your European Health Insurance Card for any reason, you can get a Temporary Replacement Certificate. This Certificate gives you the same entitlement as the Card, but for a shorter period. You can apply online for this Certificate, or by post or in person to your Local Health Office. (See 'Where to apply' below). One Temporary Replacement Certificate is issued per person.

Using a European Health Insurance Card in Ireland

There are more than 2,000 family doctors (GPs) in Ireland contracted to the European Health Insurance Card scheme. If you are an EU/EEA national with a European Health Insurance Card (or equivalent) visiting Ireland you can avail of necessary family doctor services and emergency dental treatment for the relief of pain (and urgent denture repairs) under EU regulations. Emergency services in Ireland are contactable by telephoning 999 or 112, free of charge. Further information about how to obtain treatment from a family doctor or dentist, prescription medicines and hospital treatment while visiting Ireland is available here.

Rates

There is no fee for the European Health Insurance Card or for a Temporary Replacement Certificate. Renewing a European Health Insurance Card is also free.

How to apply

Applying for a European Health Insurance Card for the first time

If you are travelling to an EU/EEA country or Switzerland you should apply for an European Health Insurance Card (or Temporary Replacement Certificate) in advance of travel.

You may apply online for your European Health Insurance Card if you are currently resident in Ireland and you already have either a medical card or a Drugs Payment Scheme (DPS) card. Your online application will be forwarded to the HSE Primary Care Re-imbursement Service) for processing. Your Card or Certificate will then be posted out to you.

Alternatively, you can download a European Health Insurance Card application form here (pdf). If you are applying for a Temporary Replacement Certificate, write 'Temporary Replacement Certificate' on the form.

Complete the form and return it to your Local Health Office at least 1 month before you leave Ireland.

Copies of the application form for a European Health Insurance Card are also available from your Local Health Office.

If you are resident in another EU/EEA member state, a different application form is used. You can apply online or download the form and email or post it.

Renewing an expired European Health Insurance Card

European Health Insurance Cards are not re-issued automatically when they expire. Instead, you must apply to renew your Card. Before you apply to renew your expired Card online, remember to have your old Card to hand. If you have changed address or your name since your last Card was issued you will need to contact your Local Health Office. It is advisable to apply well in advance of the date you plan to travel.

Renew your European Health Insurance Card online here. Select the Renew Current Card option at the top of the screen. You will then be asked to enter the 10-digit identification number listed on your expired Card. This number is located on the front of your Card, in the bottom left-hand section. You are then asked to confirm the address to which the Card will be dispatched. After this, you will see a confirmation screen, confirming that your renewal application has been successful and that your Card will be dispatched.

Refund of health costs

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles you to healthcare through the public system if you become ill or injured while on a temporary stay. In some states you may have to make some payment towards the cost of the services you receive, just as residents in that state do. Such payments are non-refundable. If you avail of private health care no refund is payable.

You may be entitled to a refund if you were charged because you did not present a valid EHIC or you were charged in error by the health service provider in the other state.

You should apply for a refund to your HSE Local Health Office. You should bring any receipts you have. The HSE will send an E126 form to the health authorities in the other state to establish:

  • If you availed of a public health service
  • The level of refund that is due to you

On return of the completed E126 form from the other state, the HSE should be able to determine if a refund is due or not. Further information is available on the HSE website.

Page updated: 20 December 2013

Language

Gaeilge

Useful Resources

Related Documents

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    Explanation of the entitlement of visitors to health services and how ordinary residence is decided.
  • Hospital treatment in another EU/EEA country
    Describes the circumstances in which Irish people may be able to avail of hospital treatment in another EU or European Economic Area country.
  • Working in the EU
    Deals with rights and entitlements when moving within the EU to work. In particular examines the EU freedom of movement directives, including access to employment, recognition of qualifications, job seeking, employment and social security rights.

Contact Us

If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.