Wednesday, 24 May 2023

The EHIC - How to Utilise Your Croatian Health Insurance Abroad

May the 24th, 2023 - I tackled navigating Croatian Health Insurance (HZZO) in another article, and while getting insured as a foreigner living in Croatia can sometimes be more of a task than it needs to be, there are numerous benefits to going through the process. One of them, aside from it being mandatory, is that you can utilise your Croatian Health Insurance abroad.

Having HZZO means that you're also insured across the European Union (EU). Should you become unwell, injured, or require medical treatment, having HZZO means you'll get access to it on the same basis as nationals/residents of whatever EU country you're temporarily located in also do. Here's how to make sure that you're covered should misfortune befall you when spending time in another EU member state.

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

An EHIC is provided to all individuals who request one as long as they're insured by the state/public policy in their EU country of residence. This means that, as stated above, by having HZZO, you're entitled to an EHIC. An EHIC is issued by HZZO for free and is typically (but not always) issued for a period of one year at a time. The validity of the EHIC will be displayed on the card.

Do I need to be a Croatian citizen to have an EHIC issued to me by HZZO?

No. In fact, many Croatian citizens who live and work abroad have ended up in hot water for utilising their Croatian Health Insurance abroad despite no longer living or working in the country. You just need to be a legal resident of Croatia who has HZZO in order to be given an EHIC and as such utilise your Croatian Health Insurance abroad. You can find out more about who needs to be insured by HZZO and who doesn't by clicking here.

What does the EHIC cover?

An EHIC will allow you to utilice your Croatian health insurance abroad and access treatment at any public medical facility or hospital in another EU country either for free or at a reduced cost. It covers you if you require urgent medical attention/treatment which cannot be postponed until you leave whatever country you're in. It will also cover you for your pre-existing conditions or chronic health issues as long as the trip you're on isn't a ''medical/healthcare tourism'' trip.

So, if you've gone skiing in Italy and you happen to suffer from hypertension that is being treated already but you experience some issues, you'll be able to use your EHIC to be seen by a contracting doctor in a public healthcare facility. 

If you're visiting historic places somewhere in France and you're diabetic and need some sort of medical attention as a result - No problem.

On that same note, it's worth keeping firmly in mind that the EHIC doesn't cover everything, and it will typically only cover unplanned treatment you need until your return to your country of residence. It will also usually cover maternity care and any pregnancy complications as long as you've not clearly planned to give birth abroad.

What about cancer treatment and the like?

You can also utilise your Croatian Health Insurance abroad through an EHIC if you require chemotherapy, oxygen therapy, treatment for conditions such as asthma, and some other types of ongoing therapy, including dialysis. In such cases, however, you'll need to come to an agreement with the healthcare facility/hospital you'll be using before you travel to whatever EU country it is located in.

Is an EHIC the same as travel insurance?

In short - No. You should always take out a travel insurance policy as the EHIC doesn't act as an alternative to what comprehensive travel insurance will offer you. It isn't going to cover any private medical healthcare or associated costs. It won't cover your repatriation either. Some insurers who offer travel insurance policies to clients now insist that the applicant hold an EHIC and many will waive the excess if you do hold one.

I ended up having to pay for my medical treatment abroad despite having an EHIC, will HZZO refund me?

Usually, yes. If the healthcare you required abroad was urgent, then you can apply for a refund from HZZO when you return to Croatia.

How can apply for an EHIC?

In Croatian, the EHIC is referred to as the EKZO (Europska kartica zdravstvenog osiguranja), and can be applied for either at your local HZZO branch/office or online. It is usually made and available for you to pick up eight days after your application is made.

When applying online, you'll need to fill in your OIB/Personal identification number and your MBO/Insurance identification number, as well as the desired location of your local HZZO office, from which you'll want to pick up your EHIC when it's ready.

If you want to apply for yours online, click here.

For a list of HZZO offices you can either go to to apply for your EHIC in person or to pick up your EHIC from after applying online, click here and select your area/city/town.

What if I stop being covered by HZZO?

If your Croatian Health Insurance coverage ceases for whatever reason, you'll need to return your EHIC to your regional/local HZZO office.


For more on moving to, living in and travelling to and from Croatia, make sure to keep up with our dedicated lifestyle section. An article tackling anything from a specific administrative issue to tips on renting a car or bringing your pet into the country is published every Wednesday as part of our How to Croatia series.

Wednesday, 5 April 2023

How to Croatia - Using a Foreign EHIC to Access Public Croatian Healthcare

April the 5th, 2023 - If you're the citizen of an EU country or a legal resident of an EU country covered by their public healthcare system, you'll own a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). You can use this card to access certain types of free Croatian healthcare in some cases. Here's how to use it, and what it covers.

First things first, an EHIC is intended for temporary stays in other EU countries, and is (in most cases) for emergency healthcare/unplanned use only. 

What does that mean?

You've eaten some oysters and now all of a sudden you can't stop, erm... paying a ''visit to the bathroom''. You've decided to try to climb up Biokovo in flipflops and upon falling, your ankle has altered its shape and somehow doesn't support your weight anymore. You went for a relaxing swim in the idyllic Adriatic and stepped on a sea urchin. You get the picture. 

If you come unstuck in some way, injured or unwell and you need medical help, you can use your EHIC to access public Croatian healthcare, at very little cost to yourself. Here's how to navigate that:

Finding a doctor

You'll need to find a doctor who has a contract with HZZO (the Croatian Health Insurance Fund) in order to be treated for whatever your problem is, which clearly is not clearing up on its own but doesn't necessarily require hospitalisation. A doctor with a contract with HZZO will treat you upon the presentation of your EHIC, and you'll often be required to pay a symbolic fee in the form of a copay of just under 1.50 euros (that is one euro, fifty cents) which is 10 kuna.

Medical emergencies

Ambulance transportation to hospital in the case of an emergency is covered by your EHIC/HZZO.


You will be treated in any Croatian hospital which has a contract with HZZO. These are typically state hospitals. In some cases, hospital treatment is not entirely free through the use of an EHIC, and you'll need to pay a copay for each day of your hospital stay, this copay is usually around 13-14 euros per day (approximately 100 kuna). The good news is that patient fees are capped at just over 260 euros (2000 kuna). You will need a referral from a GP (called uputnica in Croatian) to access hospital/specialist treatment.


Unlike in some European countries which have socialised healthcare, and the United Kingdom is a good example of this being totally different -- dentists in Croatia who have contracts with HZZO will also treat patients for free or for small copays. This is also true for foreign EHIC holders. You'll be able to be treated under Croatian healthcare by a dentist who has a contract with HZZO, and you'll just pay the same approximate 1.50 (10 kuna) copay for your treatment.


If you need to be prescribed medication, as perhaps it has been determined you have some sort of bacterial infection and as such require a course of antibiotics, you'll need a prescription from a GP through a pharmacy which has a contract with HZZO. Much like in the case with primary care doctors and dentists, you'll need to pay the symbolic 1.50 (10 kuna) copay per prescription issued.


Croatian citizens and Croatian residents who have HZZO still need to pay copays for their treatment in the vast majority of cases, you're not being singled out for being a foreigner. 

The Croatian Health Insurance Fund (HZZO) shouldn't be your point of contact for reimbursement. You need to contact your public health insurer (which issued you your EHIC) back home for any cost reimbursements. 

If healthcare in your country is completely free at the point of use, that doesn't mean it will be in Croatia, hence the previously mentioned very small copayments. It isn't entirely free at the point of use for Croatian citizens/residents with HZZO, so it won't be for a foreign EHIC holder either.

In the case of the chronically ill

If you're undergoing treatment for cancer such as chemotherapy, or you require oxygen therapy or dialysis, you can obtain all of this while in Croatia through your EHIC. You should bring all of the documentation and records of what treatment you need, why, and how much with you, and you should make an appointment with someone who will be responsible for your care in Croatia before arriving. 

You are treated differently to those who simply need to use their EHIC to access emergency treatment for cuts, scrapes or a case of the runs. You will be able to access lifesaving treatment here, regardless of your health issues existing prior to your arrival.

Here is an extensive list of hospitals and doctors which have a contract with HZZO and as such provide treatment to EHIC holders on the same basis as they would Croatian nationals/residents who have HZZO insurance.

For a detailed guide to navigating Croatian health insurance if you are moving to or already live in Croatia, make sure to check out this article.