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European Health Insurance Card: What is it and who is entitled?

Did you know that you can travel around Europe in peace and have access to the European Health Insurance Card? Well, then we explain how, what you should do and what advantages you can have with this card.

What is the European Health Insurance Card (ESCD)?

The European Health Insurance Card (ESCD) allows a person insured or covered by a social protection scheme of a of the 27 Member States of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, have access to all health care in any public entity during their temporary stay in any of the aforementioned States.That is, it is a single and common card to all countries where it is accepted. In addition, it has no cost and its main objective is to simplify the identification of the holder and the institution responsible for paying for the treatments and care to be provided.For example, imagine that you are in a European country, suddenly you get sick and have to travel to a local health facility.So, if you have your European Health Insurance Card, you can have the medical care you need in any public entity, and with the same conditions you would have if you were in Portugal.Also read: Prolonged illness: Do I lose entitlement to benefits or holidays?

In what situations can you use it?

As already mentioned, the CESD is a clinical protection valid in all the 27 Member States of the European Union mentioned above, but also in the countries that make up the Schengen Areathat is: Iceland;Liechtenstein;Norway; finally, Switzerland. can be claimed by anyone insured or covered by the social protection scheme of any of these countries. In this sense, it is very important for all people traveling and needing healthcare outside their country of residence. On the other hand, you will have the same medical care as you would in your country. That is, you do not need to return to your country of origin. Yet, in some states, These services may have costs for example:user fees;or non-refundable contributions.

European Health Insurance Card replaces travel insurance?

Firstly, the CESD is not an alternative to travel insurance. Furthermore, it does not apply in situations where the insured person travels to another State for the purpose of receiving medical treatment..On the other hand, does not apply to healthcare provided in the private healthcare system or other expensessuch as: the cost of repatriation;or compensation for lost or stolen goods.However, it can be used in private health unitsif they form part of the Member State’s health/social security system where you are passing through and accept the CESD. Even so, before leaving or on arrival, inform yourself about the medical assistance provided in the countries identified above.

Who can ask?

You can request this card from anyone who is in one of the following situations: Workers who are under a Social Security system, non-active workers, pensioners and their relatives; Beneficiaries of public health subsystems; Beneficiaries of private health subsystems; Users of the national health service, in case there is no link to Social Security or to a public or private health subsystem.

How to apply for and activate the European Health Insurance Card?

The CESD is individual and non-transferable, as it always has your username. Thus, each holder who travels abroad must have his own. Has various options to order and activate this card, ie:


Social Security beneficiaries who have Social Security Identification Numberyou can ask for the CESD in the Direct Social Security and access the service through: a password; or the Citizen Card.

in person

Continental PortugalAzoresservices of Azorean Social Security Institutes.Woodservices of Madeira Social Security InstituteIP-RAM.If you are a Social Security beneficiary and ask for the card in person, then you must fill in the form Mod.GIT53-DGSSavailable in the upper right corner: na “related documentation”; or in any service of Social Security service.So, in this face-to-face situation, you will receive the European Health Insurance Card at address to indicate.In case it is not possible to issue the CESD in time, the ISS Service, IP, may deliver to the Social Security beneficiary a provisional replacement certificate, which guarantees the same benefits as the card.In the case of a pensioner of a foreign mandatory social protection system:If you are a pensioner from only one of the Member States, except Switzerland, then the CESD is issued by the institution of the Member State that pays the pension;If you are a pensioner from Switzerland only, then the CESD is issued by the social security service in the area of ​​residence.

Expiration date

Its validity period is generally three years, being possible to renew in the same way that you request it. However, if you want to renew it before the expiration dateit should always indicate the card number under renewal.In this way, to renew the CESD you must follow the same steps as you took in your initial order (see the tab “How to apply“).

What if I lose the card?

On the other hand, in case of loss or theft, must inform the entity that issued your card as soon as possible.Before leaving or immediately after arriving at the destination of your tripfind out about the medical care you can receive in that country. You can consult this information on the European Community portal, where you will find relevant information about the countries where this card is valid.

Workers posted to work abroad

If you are in this situation, you should ask for the European Health Insurance Card and follow the steps already detailed in this article, when it was explained “how to apply“.Also read: How does life insurance work in cases of disability due to illness?

Anton Kovačić Administrator

A professional writer by day, a tech-nerd by night, with a love for all things money.

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