Useful tips when traveling in Europe

travel in europeUseful tips when traveling in Europe

Check your health insurance and the European Health Insurance Card

Being a citizen of the EU you can use free medical service everywhere in the EU or Switzerland. Depending on the laws in the country you are visiting you may be asked to pay for the treatment and then claim a reimbursement. So make sure you keep all your receipts and documents from the treatment.

To acquire Emergency Medical Care in an EU country at the expense of your country you need to show your European Health Insurance Card or the Temporary Replacement Certificate. The EHIC is issued free of charge by the healthcare provider in each country. You can also apply online but be careful because some unofficial sites may charge you.

Keep in mind that EHIC provides only a limited coverage and you may have to contribute to the cost. If you want to have and extra coverage for unexpected expenses such as an emergency flight to your country, you should ask your health insurance company for further details. Expenses on pre-existing medical conditions and regular maternity care are covered. But if you go abroad specifically to give birth or get a treatment the car won’t cover the charges.

In Bulgaria the emergency calls number is 122. If you want to call an ambulance you can also call 150.

Most of the doctors in Bulgaria have a contract with the National Health Insurance Fund and there’s only a small fee for an examination. Dentists in Bulgaria, however, do not always sign contracts with NHIF and in this case you will have to pay the full amount of money for the treatment. Prescriptions in Bulgaria are also non-refundable. But if you get a prescription from a contracted doctor you may get the medication at a reduced price from a NHIF contracted pharmacy.

Cheaper Roaming Prices for European Citizens

Check the best prices for roaming offered in your country. Before setting off abroad check whether your mobile phone has the international roaming service turned on, otherwise you will probably be unable to use your phone from abroad.

Thanks to the recent changes in the EU regulations for roaming the prices have lowered down significantly and the maximum amount of money you pay when you make a call should not exceed 29 Euro cents and when you receive a call you should pay no more than 8 cents.  Sending a text message will cost you 8 cents and receiving one would be for free. As I previously said these are the maximum roaming charges and you should pay even a cent more. Moreover, the companies try to compete and offer even cheaper prices.

Go to the European Roaming Regulations website http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/roaming/index_en.htm to check which companies have the best roaming offers. All tariffs are compared on this website so you can decide on your own which the best is for you. No matter what roaming plan you choose you should receive a text message as soon as you turn your mobile on in a foreign European country informing you about the cost of the charges. Make sure you read carefully this text message and save it. After all you need to know how much money you owe to your mobile company.

Be extra careful when using your mobile internet. Even though the EU has repeatedly tried to make the companies reduce its price it remains expensive. It costs 70 cents per Megabyte (excluding VAT).  Also there’s a data-roaming limit set at 50 Euros preventing bill shocks. If you want to change it you should contact your supplier.

2 years guarantee for all goods bought in EU

The European Union gives the consumers many rights when shopping. There’s a two-year guarantee period for every item bought in the EU and you can request a refund or return the faulty item. You can also return it if the item is not as advertised. If a repair or a return is not possible you can claim a refund.  The two-year guarantee starts immediately after the item is delivered to you.  The seller is always responsible and liable. For example, if you buy a computer which seems to be working well but after a year you find out it has less memory than advertised, you can claim a refund. Despite the fact that you’ve been using it for a year and that it has been functional throughout this time you still have the right to complain.

Usually shops have an additional guarantee which is included in the price of a product. However this doesn’t mean that you lose the two-year European guarantee.  Or if you buy a “no guarantee” product it only means that you don’t have any additional guarantee provided by the seller. Imagine that you buy a flat iron which has only a six-month guarantee provided by the seller. Say it breaks eight months later. If you go back to the shop where you bought it and they refuse to give you a refund or repair it, you should point out that the EU consumer protection law gives you a two-year guarantee and that their guarantee is just for additional protection. In case they still refuse to give you your money back or repair the iron you can always contact the European Consumer Center. Here’s the website http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/ecc/contact_en.htm where you can find contact information for each European country.

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