Staying healthy

Access to health care

As an EU national, if you are suddenly taken ill or have an accident during a temporary visit to any EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you are entitled to use the public health care services on the same terms and at the same cost as the people insured in the country you are visiting. Each country has its own rules for public medical provision. In some, treatment is free, in some you pay part of the cost, in others you have to pay the full cost and then claim a refund. So keep all your bills, prescriptions and receipts. Apply for reimbursement in the country you are visiting or, failing that, when you get home.

The European Health Insurance Card proves that you are insured in an EU country; it simplifies the procedures and helps to speed up the reimbursement of costs. It is available for free from your national health insurer. Some countries incorporate the European Health Insurance Card on the reverse side of a national card while others issue separate cards.

Travel insurance

The European Health Insurance Card is not a substitute for travel insurance as it may not cover all health costs and it never covers repatriation costs. So you may want to take out separate travel insurance to cover those risks.


Take your prescription with you if you are carrying prescribed medicines. Do not exceed the quantities needed for your personal use during your trip, as large quantities of drugs can create suspicion. New pan-EU rules on cross-border prescriptions will make it easier to get your prescribed medicines when abroad.


There are, in general, no immunisation requirements when travelling in the EU. However, there are requirements or recommendations for certain of the EU’s overseas territories. Check with your doctor before you go.

Bathing water

Strict standards are set for bathing water throughout the EU and the overall water quality remains high. More than 94 % of the 22 000 bathing sites at beaches, rivers and lakes in the EU now meet the minimum water quality standards set. Official symbols give information on the quality of water at these bathing sites. In addition, voluntary schemes such as the Blue Flag let you know that a beach or a marina has met specific standards on water quality, safety, services, environmental management and information.

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Travelling in Europe 2014-2015

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