Can EHIC replace travel insurance

August 2023

If you are planning a trip to one of the European destinations, then you must be informed about the types of protection available in the event of unforeseen expenses related and not related to you health. Two terms that people often come across before traveling are travel insurance and EMS. Although these two things perform completely different functions, they are a great complement to each other and some would even say that both are an absolutely integral part of the travel preparation process. Especially if alone of these things is obtainable for free.


Generally speaking, EHIC ensures that you will receive the necessary health care, but travel insurance for these services will be paid for.

That is why EHIC and travel insurance complement each other so well and do not replace each other in any way.

both sides of ehic cards on a white background

What is EHIC

EHIC is European health insurance card and it is free to obtain and it is available in Europe for citizens of the Union and European Economic Area countries, as well as Switzerland. EHIC when its owner travels in the mentioned countries, necessary and urgent medical assistance is provided in the same quality and volume, as it would be for a citizen of that country.

It also ensures that you can get the same free health care services that you get citizens of the country, and also provides that you will not have to pay more for paid services than for the same ones services are paid for locally.

Main features of EHIC:

How much does EHIC cost

The EHIC is free for residents of the European Union and European Economic Area member states.

However, if you have lost your EHIC, you can renew it at any time, but you will have to pay 3.13 euro.

Remember that you don't have to wait for the current EHIC to expire before you can get the new card. You can apply for the new EHIC free of charge one month before the expiration date of the existing card.

table comparing the travel insurance offers of Latvian insurers

What is travel insurance

Travel insurance is a comprehensive policy that travelers buy to protect themselves against the unexpected costs in the event of an accident, injury, lost, damaged or stolen personal things or sports equipment, as well as in cases where there are changes with the progress of the trip and many others cases.

Main features of travel insurance:

The main differences between travel insurance and EHIC

EHIC ensures essential quality of medical care in specific European Union and EEA countries, while travel insurance offers a broader form of protection directly against material losses and expenses arising from the occurrence of various risks, including expenses for medical assistance receiving.

EHIC is only available in the European Union, EEA countries and Switzerland, but travel insurance can be purchased with operating area also outside Europe, where EHIC will not perform its function at all, it is performed by Europe and Europe In the member states of the economic zone.

EHIC can make medical care more accessible, and in some cases can ensure that the specific the service is provided free of charge, but travel insurance is meant to cover in case of need it could compensate for the expenses incurred by you or your traveling companions.

Do you need both EHIC and travel insurance?

Absolutely! As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, EHIC and travel insurance form an excellent combination when you will travel around Europe. However, one cannot replace the other, because each performs different tasks - EHIC provides receiving the service and travel insurance ensures that you will receive full or partial payment for service if it is not already free.

EHIC provides valuable access to necessary medical care in the countries concerned, but it cannot to replace the amount of compensation available for various travel-related risks also outside of healthcare and for medical services.

Using the EHIC, you will receive treatment under the same conditions as nationals of the (visited) country, however, travel insurance can help compensate for expenses that EHIC does not foresee.

Countries where EHIC is valid

27 member states of the European Union - Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, Croatia, Estonia, Ireland, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland, Spain, Hungary, Germany, Sweden.

European Economic Area (EEA) members - Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway.

Switzerland, or officially - the Swiss Confederation.

graphic explanation of how to receive EHIC in Latvia

Where and how to get EHIC

European health insurance cards (EHIC) are issued in Latvia by the National Health Service, or NVD.

There are different ways to apply for an EHIC:

  1. For many, the most convenient way to apply to receive EHIC is remotely through E-Health of Latvia system or on the portal.
  2. If for some reason you can't access one of the two portals mentioned above, you can use the electronic one fill in the application form and electronically sign it and send it to the common NVD e-mail [email protected]
  3. If electronic mail is not available to you, you can fill in the application form by hand and send it by mail to NVD office in Riga, Cēsu street 31 k-3, entrance no. 6, LV-1012. Submission forms are available on NVD website in the "Application forms" section, which you can download to fill out electronically or print out to fill in by hand.
  4. EHIC can also be received in person at one of NVD's customer service centers. Remember that the customer in-person service at NVD is performed only with a prior appointment. You can come without an appointment only on Wednesdays.
    • Riga, Cēsu street 31 k-3, entrance 6
    • Jelgava, Katoļu iela 1-1
    • Daugavpils, Saules iela 5
    • Kuldīga, City Square 4, 3rd floor
    • Smiltene, Pils iela 6

If you have signed up to receive EHIC remotely, you will receive it by post in about two weeks the address specified in the application.

NVD customer service center working hours from Monday to Thursday 8.30 - 17.00, Fridays 8.30 - 15.00

In case of questions, you can call NVD customer service phone +371 8000 1234

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