Travelling in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland

The European Economic Area (EEA) is a free trade zone between the countries of the European Union (EU), Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. The regulations on access to healthcare in the EEA also apply in Switzerland.

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free, on the same basis as a resident of that country.

It will cover you for necessary treatment needed to allow you to continue your stay until your planned return. It also covers you for treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care, as long as you're not going abroad to give birth.

The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs, such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, being flown back to the UK, or lost or stolen property. The EHIC will also not cover your medical expenses if you are going abroad specifically to have treatment.

Each EEA country has specific guidance on how to access healthcare or claim refunds.

If you intend to move abroad or are going abroad specifically to have treatment, different rules may apply. Read about moving abroad or planning medical treatment abroad before you read about the details of the country you're visiting.

The following European countries do not accept the EHIC. Ensure you have adequate insurance before you travel.

  • The Channel Islands, including Guernsey, Alderney and Sark
  • The Isle of Man
  • Monaco
  • San Marino
  • The Vatican

Page last reviewed: 25/08/2016
Next review due: 25/08/2019