Which countries within the European Union accept a doctor's note as valid?

If you are a resident of one EU country and get sick in another, you will need a doctor's note. What is the procedure, and can you get it?

Which countries within the European Union accept a doctor's note as valid?
Viktor Simunović, Dr.med.
Dr.med. Viktor Simunović
21 February 2024.

The European Union aims to create a unified community with the unrestricted movement of people and goods. Compatibility between systems is promoted, including in healthcare.

Are doctor's notes issued in one European Union country valid throughout the EU?

Sick notes given in one European Union country are typically only valid within that country's healthcare system and regulations. However, suppose an EU citizen is insured in one EU country and falls ill unexpectedly while temporarily staying in another EU country. In that case, they are entitled to the same healthcare rights as the insured citizens of the country they visit. They only need to benefit from their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

If a European Union citizen cannot return to their home country due to an illness, they may be entitled to receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) in their home country. However, the medical certificate issued in a foreign country must be translated into the employer's language and sent to them in original form.

What about the non-EU nationals?

Non-EU nationals cannot use their EHIC for medical treatment in Denmark, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland unless they are refugees residing in an EU member state or are covered as family members of an EU citizen.

Are doctor's notes issued in one European Union valid outside the EU?

No, sick notes issued in one European Union country are invalid outside the EU. Suppose an EU citizen suddenly becomes ill while temporarily staying in another EU country. In that case, they are entitled to receive any necessary medical treatment that cannot be postponed until they return home. They have the same healthcare rights as individuals insured in the country where they are staying.

It is recommended that individuals always carry their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with them while traveling abroad. This card serves as proof of their insurance coverage in an EU country. If they cannot use their EHIC or do not have one, they cannot be denied medical treatment, but they may need to pay for their treatment upfront and then claim reimbursement once they return home.

Does the European Union accept doctor's notes from third countries?

The acceptance of doctors' notes from countries outside the EU varies depending on the country and healthcare system.

In an emergency, patients can dial 112 from any fixed or mobile phone without any charge to reach the emergency services in any EU country. If a patient requires medical assistance, such as seeing a doctor or getting hospital treatment while staying in another EU country, having a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) can simplify the process of administration and reimbursement of public healthcare.

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