If you live in Croatia and need to travel abroad, it is important to know whether or not you can use your state health insurance on your trip – in case you need it.
You can use your basic health insurance outside of Croatia, but what is available to you may differ depending on the country where you travel.
Different rules are applied when traveling to EU/EEA Member States or Switzerland, third (non-EU/EEA) countries, or contracting countries that have international health care agreements with Croatia.
In this post, we cover:
- What is European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
- What does EHIC cover
- What EHIC does cover
- How to get an EHIC in Croatia
- How to get a replacement card
- Health insurance usage in contracting states
The facts are these…
What is a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
Europska kartica zdravstvenog osiguranja – EKZO (European Health Insurance Card – EHIC) is a card that may be issued by a state health insurance provider within the EU/EEA Member States and Switzerland.
It allows the usage of health services that are necessary from a medical point of view from contracted health care providers in another EU/EEA Member State and Switzerland. In Croatia, EHIC is provided by HZZO, a state fund, and is free of charge.
If you suddenly become ill or injured, or suffer an accident and need urgent care that cannot wait until you return to Croatia, then you have the right to use health insurance at the expense of HZZO – using your EHIC.
To get an EHIC in Croatia, you must have Croatian mandatory state health insurance called obvezno.
With an EHIC, you can use the services of contracted health care providers abroad under the same conditions as if you were insured in the country of your stay. This means that you may have to pay for certain services. However, if you must pay for urgent care, you can ask for a reimbursement of costs from HZZO upon your return to Croatia.
EHIC may be valid for up to 3 years. The validity date is specified on the card. It is possible to request a new EHIC 30 days before the expiration of the currently valid card. If you lose the status of an insured person, you must return the card to the health insurance provider, i.e. HZZO.
EHIC covers the costs of emergency healthcare outside of your home country. Medical situations that are considered emergencies are the ones that can’t be postponed until your planned return to Croatia or your home country. The doctor from the healthcare institution abroad will decide whether your case is an emergency or not.
Emergency health care also includes addressing chronic or existing diseases if the goal of your travel is not the treatment of these illnesses. An example is a blood pressure check. Pregnancy and childbirth are also covered if the goal of your temporary stay abroad is not childbirth.
More examples of emergency health care services are dialysis, oxygen therapy, and asthma treatments. However, before you visit a doctor abroad to get these services, you must set up an arrangement with the healthcare institution abroad.
EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. If you have EHIC, it is recommended that you also obtain adequate travel insurance.
EHIC does not cover the costs of:
- Health care services used by private healthcare providers
- Planned treatment
- Returning to Croatia after the occurrence of the insured event
- Accidents like rescue action at the ski resort, air transport, and lost or stolen property
In Croatia, you can get the EHIC in 3 ways:
- In person at the HZZO regional or branch office according to the address of your stay – View list of locations here
- Via the e-Građani web application here
- By using the Redomat kiosk in HZZO’s regional offices
If requesting in person, your EHIC will be ready for pick up within 8 days at the same location where you applied for it.
If using Redomat, you need a Croatian health insurance card called zdravstvena iskaznica. Using the kiosk, you will receive your EHIC immediately. It’s super easy to use. All you do is enter your OIB and it will spit out a card. Redomat is available at the following locations:
- Klovićeva 1, 10 000 Zagreb
- Jukićeva 12, 10 000 Zagreb
- Obala Kneza Branimira 14, 21 000 Split
- Slogin kula 1, 51 000 Rijeka
- Kapucinska 33, 31 000 Osijek
EHIC for children
Parents can submit a request for their children in the same way they would apply themselves.
EHIC for posted workers
Posted workers (izaslani radnik) who are sent to temporary work in another EU/EEA country or Switzerland can get an EHIC from HZZO for the entire period of their temporary work. The same is valid for their close family members who are staying with them abroad.
EHIC for border workers
A border worker is a person who works in an EU/EEA Member State but lives (has prebivalište) in another EU/EEA Member State, and they return to the country where they live daily or at least once a week. If you are a border worker, you can get your EHIC from the health insurance provider in the country where you work.
EHIC for retired people
Users of Croatian pension can get their EHIC from HZZO at their request.
If you live in Croatia and are a user of a foreign pension from another EU/EEA country or Switzerland, you can get an EHIC from a health insurance provider in the country from which you receive your pension. You can’t get it from Croatian HZZO.
If you live in Croatia and receive a foreign pension from more than one EU/EEA country or Switzerland, but not from Croatia, you can get an EHIC from a health insurance provider in the country in which you’ve completed the majority of your working experience.
Family members of retired people can get an EHIC according to the same rules that apply to your case.
[Read: How to retire in Croatia]
EHIC for family members of workers employed in another EU/EEA country or Switzerland
If you have a residency in Croatia, but you get health insurance through your family member who is employed in another EU/EEA country or Switzerland, you can use Croatian health insurance. However, the costs of your health insurance will be charged to your health insurance provider in a country where your family member is employed. They will also issue your EHIC.
If you are caught abroad without an EHIC, you can request the issuance of an EHIC Provisional Replacement Certificate. It may be valid for up to 90 days.
This certificate may be issued in the following cases:
- Theft or loss of the EHIC or if you no longer have the card due to another reason – the certificate is valid until the end of the EHIC’s validity period
- Unexpected sudden travel abroad – the certificate is valid for the period of your stay in another country
- Right to health insurance for a period less than 30 days due to the HZZO’s records – the certificate is valid until your health insurance expires
To submit the request, contact the HZZO’s competent regional branch abroad. An alternative option is to request the certificate from the health insurance provider at the place of your stay abroad. However, you may pay the costs and request their reimbursement upon your return to Croatia.
HZZO will issue the certificate immediately after the submission of the request.
Contracting countries are the states with which Croatia has concluded international agreements that regulate the usage of health care. The countries that have international agreements with Croatia are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Turkey.
If you travel privately
If you are traveling to a contracting state for personal reasons, you can use health care in the contracting state at the expense of HZZO. You can submit a written request for reimbursement of costs to HZZO.
Before your travel, visit the HZZO according to your residence to get the required certificate. You will have to fill out this form. The certificate will be issued for the period of your temporary residence in a contracting state. It can be valid for up to one year. You can ask for a new certificate 30 days before your current certificate expires.
A list of contracted certificates and scopes of rights according to contracting state for private travels is available here.
If you are traveling for work, professional training, or education
If you are sent to a contracting state due to work, professional training, or education for more than 30 days, your employer must submit the request for a certificate for you. They should fill out this form and submit an application at the competent regional office of HZZO.
The employer who hasn’t submitted the request to the HZZO will pay the costs of health care at their own expense.
A list of contracted certificates and scopes of rights according to contracting state in case of referred work, professional training, and education is available here.
If you travel on a business trip
If you are going on a business trip to one of the contracting states, you don’t have to get a certificate for your travel. HZZO will determine the validity of the request when reimbursing the costs of health insurance abroad by checking medical documentation, medical records, and business travel documentation.
However, it is suggested to request a confirmation on the basis of this form and travel certificate called putni nalog (which is optional). The employer may be exempt from paying the special contribution if HZZO so decides.
View our other health insurance posts
- Croatia’s state health care obvezno insurance
- Healthcare and health insurance in Croatia
- How to sign up for state health insurance in Croatia
- HZZO list of local health insurance offices
- What is dodatno health insurance
- What is dopunsko health insurance
- Why you must have health insurance
Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.