When do you need an EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card) and when do you not?

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Any resident of an EU or EEA country, or someone that lives in Switzerland, has probably heard about the EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card). The card that allows them to get free healthcare whenever they travel out of their country of residence to another EU or EEA country.

Some people have the card automatically as part of the medical E-card EU and EEA countries and Switzerland give everyone that has health insurance. Some people do not, and have to apply for an EHIC card separately. It all depends on the country you live in, and the circumstances of your health insurance.

Read on to find out if you need an EHIC card and when you should get one or get a EHIC card renewal.

When do you need an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card)? — The EHIC is only needed if you travel outside your own country of residence, as it is the card that allows you accessible to free healthcare while you are traveling.

If you never leave your own country, you probably do not need an EHIC. If you plan on traveling anywhere within the EU, the EEA or in Switzerland, you do need an EHIC.

Do you already have an EHIC? — You may not realize it, but you may already have an EHIC.

That is because, in some countries, the EHIC is part of your usual medical e-card and can be found on the back of that.

In other countries, like Austria, however, you may not have the EHIC on your Ecard until you have had health insurance in that country for a year. In that case, you will need to apply for a new Ecard with the EHIC now on it.

Where can you apply for an EHIC? — There are usually three ways you can apply for the EHIC.

In some instances, the government of the country you reside in will have an online application form you can access. You can then apply online quickly and easily.

In other instances, you may want to use one of the online services offering help applying for the EHIC. If you go that route, a small fee will apply.

In yet other cases, you may be eligible for an EHIC but just may not have that information stamped on the back of your Ecard yet. In that event, you may need to go to the offices of your local health insurance authorities to apply for the extended Ecard with the EHIC information printed on it.

You can easily find out what your situation is by looking at the back of your medical Ecard. If the EHIC information is not printed on it, you need to apply for it. Contact your local health insurance authorities or ask for help in an online forum to find out more.

Just be sure, if you do plan on leaving your country of residence, you have an EHIC before you leave. That way you can get healthcare if something untoward should occur.