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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To apply for a GHIC, complete the NHS UK Global Health Insurance Card application form online.
You will need to provide your:
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.
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 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.