What is the European Health Insurance Card?

If you are travelling to Europe, a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) should be one of the first things you pack. Here is what they cover and how you can get one.

photo of Eiffel Tower

What does it cover?

If you are a UK resident it will cover you for medical treatment needed while in the European Economic Area (EEA), whether that is because of illness or an accident. This 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 EHIC will not cover you if the main purpose of your trip is to receive medical treatment.

What is not covered by the EHIC?

The EHIC will also 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

The EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance, and does not cover you for things like lost or stolen luggage.

Here is how travel insurance covers you

Is the EHIC still available following 'Brexit'?

Yes it is, for now. Your card will still be valid until at least 31 December 2020, and maybe beyond.

Part of the negotiations may include keeping the EHIC or extending the current transition period. Also, if the UK remains a part of the EEA, then the EHIC should remain available beyond Brexit.

As your EHIC might not be valid from after 31 December 2020, make sure to compare travel insurance that comes with healthcare cover if you are travelling in 2021.

How can you apply?

There are three ways you can apply:

  1. Complete the NHS European Health Insurance Card application form online

  2. Call an automated application line on 0300 330 1350

  3. Send a completed application form to the NHS Business Services Authority

You will need to provide your:

  • Full name

  • Date of birth

  • National Insurance number

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

Always apply through the NHS, and avoid websites that may charge you to apply.

You can renew your card online up to six months before the expiry date, provided your details have not changed.

If your details have changed, or your card has expired, you should apply for a new EHIC.

Apply for your EHIC here

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.