French health insurance travel card: How it works and how to get one

We explain France’s carte européene d’assurance maladie and who is eligible for one

The Ehic entitles you to state healthcare in the country you are travelling to
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What is the carte européene d’assurance maladie?

The carte européene d’assurance maladie (Ceam) is the French version of the European health insurance card (Ehic) which enables you to receive state healthcare if you are travelling in an EU/EEA country or the UK (see below for specific countries covered).

If residents in the country receive free healthcare, then you will be entitled to that. If residents pay, you will receive healthcare at the same rates.

The card is individual and named, meaning that every separate family member must have their own, including children under age 16. The French Ceam card is valid for two years.

If you are a resident in France it will enable you to show your healthcare rights as part of the French Assurance maladie, to make sure that your medical costs are covered during your trip. Note, however, that state pensioners of other EU countries or the UK (whose healthcare is paid by them, via the S1 system) have Ehics from those countries and not French Ceams, and the UK version cannot be used in the UK.

Read more: How French residents can access care in the UK on trips

The card is valid in public hospitals and with doctors and pharmacies across Europe.

However, it is only valid for care that has become necessary during your trip, is medically necessary, and cannot wait until you return to your home country (for example, accidental injury). Usually, whether a case is necessary must be decided by a health professional. Treatment that is planned in advance of travel is not covered.

The Ehic is not an alternative to travel insurance and does not cover, for example, mountain or sea rescue or a flight home in case of injury. It will also not usually cover private care and in countries where the state does not fully cover healthcare costs, it will equally not reimburse you 100%.

Which countries are covered?

The card is valid if you are travelling in the European Union, as well as the wide European Economic Area (EEA, which also includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway), Switzerland, and the UK.

What time period is covered? Will it work if I stay in the country for a longer time?

The card itself is valid for two years. If you are still resident elsewhere, and travelling in another country, you can use your card even for a long trip. However, if you become a resident in the other country, you will need to register for state healthcare separately instead.

Who is entitled to one?

Anyone living in any of the countries covered under the scheme and registered with its healthcare system (see the countries covered, above). Most state healthcare, including that of France and the UK, is residency-based.

How do I get one?

If you are registered with the French Assurance Maladie, you can order a Ceam card online via your Ameli website account. You need to log in and head to the Mes démarches section. Your card will then be posted to your registered address within a few days. The card is free.

You can also use the Ameli app to get a digital version, or request one by phone on 3646 within France, or +33 1 84 90 36 46 from outside of France. You can also request a card via the ameliBOT chatbot.

Is there anything else I need to know?

If healthcare in the country you are visiting is normally free for residents, it will be free to you too on presentation of the card. Otherwise, you have to pay upfront and obtain a reimbursement, either by applying in the country through its usual channels, or on return home.

You can present the invoices and proof of payment to your local Cpam when you return to France or if you have an Ameli account you can get reimbursed for the care via your Ameli account.

It is also possible to register for and use a digital card instead of a physical one.

The Ceam must be requested at least 20 days before you travel.

If you are travelling within the next 15-20 days, it is advised to ask for a provisional replacement certificate instead. This is valid for three months and is valid in the same situations as a normal Ceam.

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