Medical treatment overseas
Destinations in European Economic Area (EEA) operate a reciprocal medical treatment agreement with the UK for carriers of the European Health Insurance Card - the replacement of the now defunct E111. The EHIC can be used to cover any necessary medical treatment for an accident or illness within the EEA and Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Holders are entitled to state-provided medical treatment within the country they are visiting.
However, the EHIC may not cover travellers for all medical costs incurred, nor repatriation to the UK, so it is essential to book holiday insurance before travelling.
It is important to remember that holding a EHIC does not mean that you're insured.
Apply for a EHIC
There are a number of ways to apply for your European Health Insurance Card:
- Apply on the Department of Health or European Health Insurance Card website (seven-day processing)
- By phone on 0845 606 2030 (10-day processing)
- Complete the application form available from Post Offices and post it using the accompanying addressed envelope (21-day processing).
The UK also operates mutual health care agreements with a number of other countries outside the EEA. The Department of Health website details the level of free or reduced-cost emergency cover you can anticipate in each country.
However, it should be noted that these arrangements do not cover all the expenses you can incur while abroad. These include:
- Cost of flying relatives out and back
- Accommodation for relatives
- Return travel back to the UK
- Treatment in a country without a mutual agreement. In an emergency you may be taken across a border to be treated.
In order to be fully covered against such expense, it is recommended that you travel with comprehensive holiday insurance.