How Can I Renew My European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?
If you travel in the EU, you probably have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in your wallet. The good news is that, as an Irish resident, you can continue to use your card for travel in any of the 27 EU countries plus Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland.
An EHIC card won’t replace your comprehensive travel and health insurance policy, but it’s useful to have if you find yourself needing medical help in an emergency. Read on to find out more about the EHIC card and how to renew yours.
What is an EHIC card?
The EHIC card is 100% free and gives you access to healthcare across Europe. You’ll be covered for medically necessary treatment, including existing or chronic illness or pregnancy and childbirth.
How does the EHIC work?
As members of the EU, Ireland has a reciprocal health agreement that gives you access to healthcare across Europe.
Suppose you become ill or have an accident while on holiday. In that case, you’re entitled to healthcare just like the residents of the country you’re visiting. And you’ll pay what they pay, which could mean your treatment is entirely free. In other countries, you might have to pay for your care up front and then claim the money back.
Remember, your EHIC card doesn’t guarantee a free service. What costs you nothing in Ireland, might not be free in another country.
What’s covered by my EHIC card?
Your EHIC card will cover you in the following situations:
- Emergency treatment
- Medical treatment if you’re in an accident
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Chronic and pre-existing conditions
But the EHIC won’t cover your costs:
- If you’re travelling so that you can receive healthcare (health tourism)
- If you need services like an air ambulance or a flight home to Ireland
- If you need permanent and ongoing healthcare
Where can I use my EHIC?
The good news about your EHIC card is that you can use it in all 27 countries that make up the EU, plus the EEA countries and Switzerland.
Ireland and the UK have a separate agreement under the Common Travel Area to cover healthcare costs.
If you’re travelling to Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, your EHIC won’t work. It could be worth thinking about getting health insurance so you’re fully covered if anything does happen.
Do I need an EHIC card?
Over 40% of health insurance payers in the EU have an EHIC card. If you already have Irish health insurance, you should usually apply for a card if:
You’re going on holiday in the EU, EEA or Switzerland
You’ll be spending a short stay of up to three months in one or more of those countries
You’ll be studying in a country covered by the EHIC
Who can apply for an EHIC card?
There are different ways of getting your card depending on whether:
- You’re an Irish citizen living in Ireland
- You’re an Irish pensioner
- You’re from the EU, EEA or Switzerland and living in Ireland
You can apply for the EHIC for yourself, your partner and any dependent children under 16. Every family member has their own card so you’ll need to make each application separately.
If you’re Irish but you’re living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you could still be eligible for an Irish EHIC card if:
- You receive an Irish state pension and you’ve registered in your host country with an S1 health certificate
- You’re working abroad for a company based in Ireland
- You’re a family member of someone working abroad for a company base in Ireland
If you can’t get an Irish EHIC, you might be eligible for a card through your country of residence.
How to apply for an EHIC card
It’s easy to apply for your EHIC in Ireland, so put it top of your to-do list next time you’re travelling to Europe. You should get your card in 10 working days after applying. That means you’ll have time to compare travel and health insurance options before you go to make sure you’re fully covered.
You can apply in person, by post and online, whichever method is more convenient for you. Don’t forget to have your medical card or Drug payment Scheme (DPS) card with you, plus proof of your address in Ireland.
If you want to apply in person:
You can visit your local health office in person. There are a few exceptions:
West Wicklow, Kildare and Dublin South will only accept applications by post or online
Dublin North West only accepts applications by post
Make sure you have the following information with you when you apply:
- Date of birth
- Personal Public Service (PPS) number on a P60 or social services card
- Proof of identity, e.g. your passport or driving licence
- Proof of address, e.g. employment contract or rent agreement
If you want to apply by post:
Just print the form out, fill it in, then post it to your local health office.
If you need to show proof of address and your PPS number, send photocopies of your documents, not the originals.
If you want to apply online:
You’ll need a medical or DPS card to apply for your EHIC online. If you don’t have a card, you’ll need to apply in person or by post.
If you want to apply as a family
Although every family member needs their own EHIC card, you can apply online, by post or in person for your partner and any dependent children under 16. If you’re applying online, enter your own details, then apply for another card when prompted.
If you need to apply from the EU, EEA or Switzerland
EU Regulations Office,
North West Wing,
St. Joseph’s Health Campus,
Is it free to renew my EHIC card?
It’s free to apply for your EHIC card, and it’s also free to renew. That’s what makes the card so popular for European travellers. Don’t get fooled by websites that try to charge you to apply for a card or a renewal.
When do I need to renew my EHIC card?
Your card won’t renew automatically, so make sure you check the date before you travel.
If you need a new EHIC urgently, you’ll need to apply in person at your local HSE office. They’ll supply you with a temporary certificate until you can get a new card issued.
If you get caught out and need emergency treatment while you’re away, the doctor or hospital will arrange a temporary replacement for you.
How do I renew my EHIC card?
- If you need to renew your EHIC card and your details haven’t changed, renew online by entering your PSS number and existing EHIC number
- If you need to renew your EHIC card renew and your details have changed, or you don’t have your PSS or old EHIC card: visit your local EHIC office to renew
Get health insurance quotes with Campion
An EHIC should be an essential part of your travel kit, but it’s still important that you take out your own travel and health insurance for complete peace of mind. At Campion, we’ll help you find the best insurance for you and your family, so take advantage of our fast price comparisons and book a callback today.