In Europe Don’t Dial 999

If you are travelling to Europe soon, the likelihood is you’ve prepared all the essentials. The important items such as your passport, European Health Insurance Card and your travel insurance are all valid and up-to-date. Maybe you have been researching your destination, planning your schedule and deciding what activities you want to do over your break. But no matter whether you are having a relaxing coastal holiday or a more active winter sporting holiday, it is vital you know what to do should you have an accident or fall ill.

999 UK
Dialling 999 in the United Kingdom to access emergency services


It’s pretty much second nature to us in the UK, we dial 999 in case of emergency. Of course this applies in many different scenarios, it could be that you need to seek urgent medical attention if yourself or others have been in an accident or become ill. But we would still dial this number in order to contact friendly English speaking call centre operators that can arrange the help we need. This would include help from police and firemen as well as paramedics. The problem is it is not the same throughout Europe and since we don’t anticipate needing this service when we are out enjoying our holidays a lot of us aren’t prepared in this event.

European Emergency Number

999 is not the emergency number in Europe it is actually 112. Some of you may know that the 112 emergency number actually works in the United Kingdom as well. But as 999 is a far easier for us to remember that’s the one we tend to call. In a survey that was carried out by the foreign office in 2012, only a mere 14% of people knew of the 112 number. However, out of this small percentage not everyone even knew what the number was actually for. Embarrassingly many Brits surveyed went on to say they believed the number was for international directory enquiries. Only a tiny 3% of respondents knew what would happen were they to dial 112. Unfortunately this slim percentage meant that UK citizens ranked in the bottom 3 in the table of all European countries whose citizens took part in this poll. On a brighter note however, most people did in fact know about the EHIC and why they are essential when travelling within Europe.

112, when dialed from anywhere in Europe, works in exactly the same way as calling 999 in the UK. The number is free to call from any mobile or landline so there is no need to worry about racking up any large international phone bills. And don’t worry if your phone has no credit or is blocked from making international calls, this won’t apply when dialing 112; a mobile will work in the event of an emergency. If you are travelling somewhere more remote and are worried about the language barrier, this shouldn’t be an issue either. Many countries surveyed actually had very helpful, English speaking staff on the other end of the line. Therefore, not being able to speak the local language isn’t a problem.

Free to call
Emergency service numbers can be contacted free of charge

Remember to dial 112 in the event of an emergency on your travels through Europe. Save this number before you leave the UK.