Press Release

50,000 apply for European Health Insurance Card in advance of launch

Card becomes active from today

Health boards have issued more than 50,000 European Health Insurance Cards since the launch of a public information campaign in mid-May, according to Health Minister Micheál Martin.

From today, Irish residents can use the Card to access healthcare in the public system of another EU/EEA member state or Switzerland, should they become ill or injured during a temporary stay there. The Card replaces the forms previously needed, of which the E111 was the most widely-used. The aim is to make it easier for people to get the care they need while travelling within the EU / EEA region, whether as a holidaymaker, a student or a worker. However, the Card gives no entitlement where the aim of the journey is to receive healthcare.

Of similar size to a credit card, the European Health Insurance Card fits easily in a wallet or purse, unlike the E111. Also unlike the E111, the Card has a validity period of up to two years, so that people don´t have to reapply each time they travel. The same design will be in use in all EU / EEA member states, ensuring that the Card can be easily recognised by doctors and other care providers in any member state, regardless of language differences.

Newspaper, radio and outdoor advertising has been taking place over the past two weeks to make people aware of the new Card and how to get one. There is also a dedicated website at, where online or “self-service” applications can be made by anyone who already has either a medical card or a Drugs Payment Scheme card.

“So far, more than half of all applications have been online, and clearly large numbers of people are finding this a convenient option,” according to Minister Martin.

Applications can also be made directly at local health board offices, as was previously the case with the E111. Those planning summer trips to another member state are encouraged to apply for the Card at least ten working days in advance of their trip. However, where a Card cannot be issued on time for the journey, a Temporary Replacement Certificate may be issued which confers the same entitlement as the Card. Anyone who is ordinarily resident in Ireland can apply for the Card, and one Card is issued for each individual or family member.