Has someone told you that you need to get an EHIC or European Health Insurance Card? Do you live in the EU, an EEA country or Switzerland, and are more than a little confused as to when you need an EHIC?

If so, read on, and you will soon know whether you do need a European Health Insurance Card or not.

When do you need an EHIC? — You only need an EHIC if you will be traveling outside the country of your residence, and will be traveling to Switzerland or another EU or EEA country. You need the EHIC as it allows you to access free medical services in any of those countries. With it, you will be able to get the same healthcare you are eligible for in the country of your residence.

You will also need an EHIC if the EHIC information is not already on your current medical E-card.

Check your E-card — Some countries have the EHIC information on the backs of the E-cards they give everyone in their country that is eligible for health insurance.

Other countries do that, but they also have restrictions on who is able to get the EHIC and who is not. A couple of countries mandate you have to have had health insurance in that country for five years before you are eligible for the EHIC. Other countries do not put the EHIC information on your E-card until you have had health insurance for a year.

When you need to apply for a European Health Insurance Card — If you are eligible for the EHIC, but the information is not on your currently held E-card, you will have to apply for the EHIC separately.

This can usually be done by applying for a new EHIC card at the health insurance authorities’ office in your country of residence. In some cases, it can also be done online.

If you are not sure, contact your health insurance agency and ask them what you need to do to apply for an EHIC. They will then tell you if you are eligible, and if you need to go to their offices or can apply for it on the Internet.

Applying for the EHIC online — There are usually two options for applying for the EHIC online.

This can either be done at the state-owned website operated by your country’s health insurance agency. Application for an EHIC is usually quick, and your new EHIC will usually be sent to you within a week.

There are also online services that apply for the EHIC for you. If you do not have time to apply yourself, or if you do not speak the language of the country you are in, some of these services can be helpful.

They do charge a small fee and, as the EHIC is actually free, you just need to be sure you are happy paying that fee before you use one of them.