Travelling to Europe? Have you got your European Health card? Have you checked the expiry date?
On a recent visit to Italy I was stung by a wasp, I really didn’t think much of it but within about 15 minutes I realised that the situation was very serious. I had anaphylactic shock and it was only through quick thinking and the expertise of Italy’s Volunteer Emergency Service and first class hospital treatment that I’m here to tell the tale. I did learn one or two lessons along the way. Firstly, that carrying an EHIC card made things so much easier, especially in a foreign speaking country. Secondly, I should have called for an ambulance immediately (we had a good ticking off from the paramedics), and thirdly, the EHIC card has an expiry date.
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) replaced the old E111 in 2006.
Your EHIC lets you get state healthcare at a reduced cost or sometimes for free. It will cover you for treatment that is needed to allow you to continue your stay until your planned return. It also covers you for treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and for routine maternity care, as long as you’re not going abroad to give birth.
The EHIC is valid in all European Economic Area (EEA) countries, including Switzerland. For more information about what is covered in each country see our country-by-country guide .
You can apply for a free EHIC online.
The EHIC is entirely free of charge. However, other unofficial websites may charge you if you apply through them, so watch out. To be sure of the direct application process click the link below: