What is the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)?

Fact Checked

Find out how the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) works and when you need one.

Share this guide
Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

In 2021, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) was replaced in the UK by the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), though both remain valid. If you are travelling to Europe, a free GHIC or EHIC should be one of the first things you pack. Here is what they cover and how you can get one.

What do the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) and European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) cover?

If you are a UK resident, both the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) and European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will cover you for medical treatment needed while in the European Union (EU), whether that is because of illness or an accident. The EHIC is also valid in European Economic Area (EEA) countries.

The cover involves:

  • Access to reduced-cost or free medical care from state healthcare providers

  • Treatment of a chronic or pre-existing medical condition during your stay

  • Routine maternity care (as long as your sole reason for visiting the country is not to give birth)

  • Provision of oxygen, renal dialysis, and routine medical care

The GHIC or EHIC will not cover you if the main purpose of your trip is to receive medical treatment.

What is not covered by the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?

The UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will not cover:

  • The costs of private healthcare that is not part of the state healthcare system

  • The cost of being brought back to the UK

  • Going abroad specifically to receive treatment, including giving birth

A GHIC or EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance and does not cover you for things like lost or stolen luggage. To ensure you have the best level of protection, it’s a good idea to have both a GHIC/EHIC and travel insurance in place before you set off on your holiday.

Here is how travel insurance covers you

Is the EHIC still available following 'Brexit'?

No. Your card will still be valid until it expires, but after that, you will need a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). But be aware that neither card provides cover in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.

Some UK residents may still be eligible for a UK-issued EHIC. Find out more information on the NHS website.

Does it cover the cost of quarantine hotels in the EU?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many EU countries are requiring visitors to quarantine on arrival if they:

  • Have tested positive for COVID-19

  • Have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19

The costs of quarantine hotels are not covered by an EHIC or GHIC, as the UK considers these hotels to be a public health measure, not medically necessary state-provided healthcare.

However, if you need medical treatment during your stay in a quarantine hotel, you can receive treatment through your EHIC, or GHIC.

How can you apply for a GHIC?

To apply for a GHIC, complete the NHS UK Global Health Insurance Card application form online.

You will need to provide your:

  • Full name

  • Date of birth

  • National Insurance number

You can also apply for a GHIC on behalf of someone else such as your spouse and any children under 16 years, as long as you have all the relevant information.

Applying for a GHIC is free, providing you do so through the NHS website. If you search for “GHIC” online you’ll come across several different websites, many of which look official. However, these sites will usually charge you £20 or more for your card and should be avoided.

Apply for your GHIC here

What happens if I forget my GHIC?

If you forget to take your EHIC or GHIC with you and you need medical treatment on holiday, you can get a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) to prove your entitlement to medically necessary healthcare. The PRC will give you the same cover as an existing EHIC or GHIC until you return home. 

To apply you should contact NHS Overseas Healthcare Services and supply:

  • Your National Insurance number

  • Your name

  • Your address

  • Your date of birth

  • The name of the treatment facility

  • The email address for the specific department of the organisation providing the treatment 

Someone else can also apply for the PRC on your behalf.  

If you have a pre-existing condition, you can still get a quote through Money.co.uk. These conditions could include cancer, stroke, serious heart, respiratory and terminal conditions.
Some insurers might not cover you if you already have a serious medical condition, or if you have a number of conditions. Others might only offer insurance at a much higher price. If you're unable to find suitable cover, the Money and Pension Service (MaPS) has also set up a directory of insurers willing to cover customers with pre-existing medical conditions.
You can contact the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) or you can telephone 0800 138 7777.

Make sure you get the best possible cover when you go away by comparing travel insurance deals. You can find the cover you need at the right price whatever your travel plans.

About Matt Fernell

View Matt Fernell's full biography here or visit the money.co.uk press centre for our latest news.