Applying For The European
Health Insurance Card (EHIC) In Cyprus

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The beautiful island of Cyprus in the eastern portion of the Mediterranean to the south of Turkey and north of Egypt is one of the most visited countries in Europe especially those who would like to study its rich cultural heritage as well as frolic in many of its famed beaches. If you want to visit Cyprus and enjoy the many wonders it has to offer – the festivals, the beaches, the snow-capped mountains, and the rich Greek heritage – then you must bring with you the European Health Insurance Card as this will give you access to the basic healthcare services provided by the Cypriot government to all of its citizens, provided, of course, that you are a Swiss national or a national of any of the different countries with membership to the European Economic Area which also includes the EU and the UK. These healthcare treatments and services can be provided to you free of charge or at a reduced cost so you can receive medical attention at the soonest possible time, allowing you to enjoy your vacation in the scenic towns of Cyprus.

However, it is very important to understand that Cyprus is politically divided into a Turkish northern portion and a Greek southern area. Although reunification efforts are underway since May 2015, the Cypriot government has no effective control on the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as a result of the 1974 Turkish invasion in response to a coup d’état that aimed to reunite Cyprus with Greece. The result is the division of the island nation into a Turkish and Greek portions.

The EU and EEA only recognizes the southern portion of the island and as such, if you venture into the northern parts of Cyprus, it is important that you have with you your private health insurance since your EHIC will not cover your medical expenses in this parts. If you are a national of a non-EEA country and you visit Cyprus, you are still entitled to receive emergency medical treatment. You will have to shoulder the cost of any treatments provided in an inpatient or outpatient setting, though.

If you get sick while on a holiday in Cyprus, you are entitled to the same quality of healthcare that Cypriots have. Unfortunately, it is not generally free. In the past couple of years, the Cypriot government has introduced a system of requiring everyone to pay a small amount before they can get access to medical treatments and health care.

For example, Cypriots requiring consultation with a general practitioner are usually charged €3 while seeking treatment from a specialist will often double the cost at €6. Additionally, they are also charged €0.50 for every medication that is prescribed. For those who don’t have medical cards, the cost can reach up to 5 times the price of these services if Cypriots have a medical card, reaching as much as €15 to €30 for a visit to a general practitioner or a specialist, respectively. One of the country’s emergency and trauma units also charges €10 for its emergency treatment services. Now, imagine if you didn’t bring your EHIC with you. You will be paying for the higher cost of treatment and healthcare.

Non-Cypriots requiring hospitalization will have to seek referral from a general practitioner first, unless, of course, it is a medical emergency or they figured in an accident requiring emergency medical services.

You may also bring with you your own medications to Cyprus. However, these should be placed in containers with clearly written labels. While not absolutely necessary, it is often advisable to bring with you a letter from your doctor clearly stating what the medications are and what these medications are for. This letter should be translated into Greek. If you intend on visiting the northern part of Cyprus, then the letter must also be translated into Turkish. It’s not really a bad idea to have 2 medication letters translated into Greek and Turkish.

There are only 5 pharmacies in Cyprus that are open 24/7. Others don’t open at all in midweek. Most pharmacies however, open at 9 in the morning, close at noon for a few hours, then reopen late afternoon until the early evening. If you have to secure your medications, it is best to know when the best time to buy is. Understand as well that Cyprus don’t officially recognize foreign prescriptions so some pharmacies may refuse to accept these. Some will, nonetheless. Your best recourse is to see a Cypriot doctor and obtain prescription from them.