The European Health Insurance Card

Introduction

This document 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 healthcare beyond the immediate treatment. Further information about student’s entitlements to healthcare is available from the European Commission.

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 when you are travelling in Europe. It is evidence that you are part of a health insurance scheme administered by another state in the EEA/Switzerland. To get 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 are different in different countries, and few countries will pay the full cost of healthcare for people who have a Card, so you may have to pay for some of the services yourself.

Currently, the EEA comprises of the 28 member states of the European Union together with Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) can be used in any of these countries and in Switzerland.

Where can I use my European Health Insurance Card?

You can use your EHIC in any EU/EEA country and in Switzerland. Find out where you can use your EHIC and how to access healthcare abroad.

If the country you are visiting is not among those listed, you cannot use a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) there and you should get 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 EHIC is not accepted there. You should get private health insurance instead.

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

Yes, under Regulation 859/2003 any non-EU national, their family members or survivors who are legally resident in an EU member state can apply for and use a European Health Insurance Card (or a 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 a 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.

The European Health Insurance Card only entitles you to the state-funded healthcare scheme in the country you are staying. It will not cover any of the costs involved in transporting you back to Ireland.

Every individual member of a family or group will need their own card.

European Health Insurance Cards are valid throughout the EEA and Switzerland for up to 4 years.

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

If you are an Irish resident, you don’t need a European Health Insurance Card to get necessary healthcare while on a temporary visit to the UK. 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 healthcare' 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 to prevent an insured person from being forced to return home to their home member state and to enable them to continue their temporary stay in another member state under safe medical conditions. The decision specifically states that it does not cover people who travel within Europe in order to get treatment in another country.

Further information is available on the rights and obligations of people with a European Health Insurance Card.

How do I renew my European Health Insurance Card?

Your Card is not automatically renewed. You must apply to renew your Card (see 'How to apply' below). If any of your details have changed (for example, your address) since your last card was issued you must contact your Local Health Office to have this information updated before renewing.

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 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 and you are visiting Ireland you can avail of necessary family doctor services and emergency dental treatment for the relief of pain (and urgent denture repairs). Emergency services in Ireland can be contacted by telephone on 999 or 112, free of charge.

Further information is available on how to get treatment from a family doctor or dentist, prescription medicines and hospital treatment while visiting Ireland.

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 a European Health Insurance Card (or Temporary Replacement Certificate) in advance of your travel.

You can 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 (pdf). You should send the completed form 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 applying for a Temporary Replacement Certificate, you can apply online or in person at 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 reissued automatically when they expire. Instead, you must apply to renew your Card. If you have changed address or your name since your last Card was issued you will need to contact your Local Health Office. You should apply well in advance of the date you plan to travel.

You can apply to renew your European Health Insurance Card online. 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 healthcare no refund is paid.

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 edited: 15 April 2019