The EHIC Card and Getting Medical Assistance Abroad

Experiencing an accident or illness abroad can be a harrowing time. On top of the stress inflicted by your journey, you have the added burden of being on unfamiliar territory, in a less familiar culture, unaware of any financial perils you may face.


If you have an accident in Europe you should ring the emergency number 112. If you are suffering from a less severe illness you may seek advice from your hotel or travel representative before receiving treatment. They can point you in the direction of a state practitioner who will give you free treatment in line with EU agreements. For this to take place effectively, you must be in possession of an EHIC card.

An EHIC card is free of charge and available from the national health website. Other sites may charge admin fees. The card will give you statutory, state provided health care entitlements throughout the European Economic Area (including Switzerland).

The EHIC card can also cover reimbursement for prescriptions that you may need to claim in the EU zone. When you present your prescription to the foreign chemist you may receive your prescribed drug by a different name and you may need to pay full cost up front, but this will be reimbursed. If you require prescriptions for vital medication, it’s wise to garner details from your GP regarding dosage and ingredients.

Whether you’re travelling inside or outside the EU, you need a good travel insurance package. Many medical costs you may incur in Europe might not be covered by the EHIC card, and outside of Europe, comprehensive insurance is doubly vital. Private emergency treatment can be expensive and effectively lead to financial ruin; not so with the right precautions in place.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office can be an important contact in the event of requiring medical assistance. They’ll give advice and even arrange for visits and communications if necessary.

If you’ve had an aviation related accident, air accident compensation is relatively easy to claim for in comparison to other personal injury claims due to the international laws surrounding these situations; so you should get in touch with a solicitor specialising in this area of law.

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