What is the European Health Insurance Card and how can I apply for it?

News - 2024.2.12


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The European Health Insurance Card is a personal, non-transferable document that certifies the right to receive medically necessary health care during a temporary stay in the 27 member countries of the European Union (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden), as well as in the United Kingdom, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland.

Who can apply?

Persons who are insured in the Social Security system can apply for the card, both for themselves and for their registered beneficiaries.

When applying, they will need to have a DNI or NIE identity card and their Social Security number. Each person travelling, both the insured person and any beneficiaries, must have their own card.

In certain circumstances, such as theft, loss, urgent need or because you are included in certain Social Security categories, the card may be replaced by a Provisional Replacement Certificate valid for 90 days.

Does the European Health Insurance Card cover scheduled medical treatment in another country?

No. It is not valid when the purpose of the journey is to receive scheduled medical treatment outside Spain, in which case, the National Social Security Institute (INSS) must issue the corresponding form, following a favourable report from the Health Service.

Do I have to apply for a European EHIC if I am going to live in another EU country?

If you are moving your habitual residence to another EU country or to the United Kingdom, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland or Switzerland, you must fill in the S1 form, instead of using the European Health Insurance Card, in order to receive medical treatment in your new country of residence.

Does the European Health Insurance Card cost anything?

No, the issuance of the European Health Insurance Card is free of charge in Spain.

What health services does it cover?

The card covers medical expenses arising during the trip due to unforeseen health problems. You will be able to receive public health care if you have an accident, become ill, get worse from a chronic illness or go into labour. You will be treated by a doctor, in a hospital or health care centre, as if you were a resident of the country, with the services provided there, not with the care you receive in Spain. In addition to care, it includes the prescription and dispensing of medicines, also under the same conditions as for residents in the country.

However, please note that some services are not included. The European Health Insurance Card does not cover private health care, nor does it cover repatriation or rescue. In addition, if you are a resident with the nationality of a non-EU third country, please pay particular attention to the conditions of access to healthcare in Denmark, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland or Switzerland, as you may be outside the scope of coverage.

It is always advisable, when preparing for your trip, to find out about the health care conditions and services in the destination country, on this European Union website.

Do I have to pay for healthcare in another country?

Having a health card does not mean that health care is completely free of charge.

  • In some countries and for certain benefits, you will have to pay a fixed amount or a percentage of the cost of health care, on an equal basis with insured persons in that country. These charges, known as co-payments, are non-refundable.
  • In other cases, reimbursement systems may be in place in the country of destination. In these systems, you may be required to make a refundable advance payment of the cost of the care you receive. This charge will be refunded to you, and you can request it both at your destination and on your return to Spain.

In any case, if the treatment you need is free of charge for residents of the destination country, you will not have to pay anything.

You should also bear in mind that if you are a pensioner in Spain and need medication in the destination country, you will have to pay the amount applicable in that country.

When do I claim reimbursement for health services?

As stated in the previous section, you may only claim compensation for any reimbursable advances you may be charged, not for co-payment expenses.

This reimbursement can be claimed in the country where you receive health care. If this is not possible, you may also do so in Spain by applying to the Social Security, either electronically or in person, by filling in this form.

What do I do if my European Health Insurance Card is not accepted in my country of stay?

A valid European Health Insurance Card must be accepted by all countries included in its scope of coverage.

However, you can also contact the SOLVIT network (solvit@ue.maec.es), which is a free service for resolving any problems between administrations that apply the Community Social Security Regulations. You can also contact the national SOLVIT Centres by telephone by dialling one of the numbers available via this link.

If you need consular assistance, you can contact the Spanish consular office in the country where you are located. In addition to the regular service, each office has an emergency telephone number available 24 hours a day, which can be consulted at this link.

How can I apply for or renew my European Health Insurance Card?

You can apply for or renew your card or that of your beneficiaries without electronic identification systems at:

In person at the Social Security Assistance and Information Centres (CAISS).

With electronic identification systems in:

On both portals you will have to identify yourself by means of Cl@ve Permanente, Clave PIN, DNIe or electronic certificate or via SMS.

If you apply by SMS, your mobile phone must be registered in the Social Security database, which will send you a one-time password. If you have not registered your telephone number, you can do so on the portal of the Social Security General Treasury.

Where will I receive my European Health Insurance Card?

You will receive it at the address you have registered with the Social Security. If you have changed your address, you can change it immediately in the section Change of address of worker/company of the Social Security e-Office.

How long does it take to ship?

The expected delivery time is about five days.

What do I do if I have to travel immediately and my European Health Insurance Card has not arrived in time?

When it is not possible to issue the card, or if your trip is imminent, you can apply for the EHIC Provisional Replacement Certificate.. It consists of a .pdf file, of which hard copies can be obtained and which contains the CEA code (Electronic Authenticity Code) with which you can check its authenticity by contacting the Documentary Integrity Verification Service.

For how long is it valid?

The card is valid for two years from the date of issue, with some exceptions. For resident foreigners, the validity coincides with the expiry date of the residence permit; for recipients of unemployment benefits and subsidies, it is valid for the duration of the benefit.

The use of the card during its period of validity is conditional upon the holder continuing to meet the requirements that gave rise to its issue.

What do I do if my European Health Insurance Card is about to expire during my trip?

Check that the period of validity of the card includes the planned return date. If not, apply for renewal before leaving Spain and, if necessary, for the Provisional Replacement Certificate.

Non official translation