Access to Healthcare in France

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

About the EHIC

The European health insurance card is used during a temporary stay in a member State other than the member State of insurance, whatever the purpose of the stay (business or non-business) or the cardholder’s status (employed, retired, unemployed, student, etc.)

The EHIC is personal, made out in the holder’s name and free of charge. Each separate member of a family traveling must have his/her own card, including children under the age of 16. Cards issued by France are valid for 2 years (length may vary by member States).

If you cannot have your EHIC delivered prior to departure, you can ask for a provisional certificate to be delivered. It has a 3-month validity period.

What is the use of the EHIC?

The EHIC guarantees direct access to the public health system in the country you are visiting, with no need for prior application to the local health authority. When you show your EHIC, you will receive the same health services as if you were insured in the country you are visiting.

With the EHIC, you will receive health care benefits-in-kind pursuant to the legislation of the country that you are visiting. The card entitles you to medically necessary care, which means that you will not have to return to your State of habitual residence early in order to receive the necessary treatment.

The EHIC also covers chronic or pre-existing conditions as well as pregnancy and childbirth, if the purpose of the trip to another country is not to receive care.

How can I get the EHIC?

These provisions are applicable if you are a citizen:

  • Of a European Union member State
  • Or Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland
  • Or of another State (in this case, these provisions do not apply to a stay in Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland)


You must apply for an EHIC from your local health insurance fund.


Assurance Maladie

What for?

The Assurance Maladie is France’s mandatory access to healthcare. Unless you have the EHIC, you need to apply for France’s healthcare system, in which case you may be provided with a temporary social security number during your stay.

The Assurance Maladie allows for up to 70% coverage of essential healthcare (percentage vary depending on the required care).

How to apply

You can apply for France’s healthcare system on the government-dedicated website, ameli.

You will receive a provisional certificate for immediate coverage while your application is being processed.

Health Insurances

What about it?

Because France’s healthcare will not suffice to cover all required care, it is highly recommended that you consider applying for an optional healthcare plan. 

These plans aim at bringing an additional layer of coverage so as to fully cover your healthcare expenses.

Complémentaire Santé Solidaire (CSS)

The Complémentaire Santé Solidaire (CSS) is an optional healthcare plan provided by the French State. It is free of charge and subject to eligibility.