My partner and I are planning a holiday in Spain. How do we access public healthcare services if one of us becomes ill when abroad?
Answer (April 2018)
You and your partner each need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This card allows you to access public healthcare services if you become ill or get injured when travelling to or visiting certain European countries. It doesn’t cover private treatment or the cost of repatriation to Ireland if required.
The countries covered by the card are the 28 member states of the EU, the three other members of the EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) and Switzerland. You don’t need the card for a visit to the UK if you can show that you are ordinarily resident in Ireland. In practice, this means showing a driving licence, passport or similar document.
If you have a smartphone you can download the free EHIC app. This includes emergency phone numbers and information about treatments and costs covered. The app does not replace the card.
If you already have a medical card or Drugs Payment Scheme card, you can apply online for your EHIC at ehic.ie.
Otherwise, you can download an application form from ehic.ie or get one from your Local Health Office. You need to provide your name, address, date of birth and Personal Public Service number (PPS number). You may also need to show proof that you are ordinarily resident in Ireland. If your EHIC has expired you can renew it online at ehic.ie. If your details have changed (for example, your address) you need to contact your Local Health Office to renew the card.
If you have concerns about getting a new or renewed card in time, you can get a Temporary Replacement Certificate, either online or from your Local Health Office. You may also wish to consider taking out private travel insurance for expenses that are not covered by the EHIC (such as the costs of repatriation).