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An EHIC is the European Health Insurance Card. It allows travellers access to free or discounted care in state-run hospitals or doctors’ surgeries in any EU country, plus a handful of others. It’s valid for five years and everyone can get their own, including children. Just add them to your application.
Travel insurance is much more comprehensive than an EHIC. Although the EHIC gives you great protection when it comes to state run healthcare, that's all it covers. It doesn’t replace your travel insurance. In fact, some insurance providers now insist that you have an EHIC and many will waive your excess if you have one.
There is no cost involved in applying for an EHIC, just fill in the online EHIC form or call the automated EHIC application service on 0300 330 1350.
Because the UK is set to leave the European Union, an EHIC may only be useful up until 29 March 2019. As things stand we don’t know if EHICs will still be available in the current form after then. But negotiations are underway to see if individual reciprocal arrangements with some EU member countries could be created for after the UK leaves the EU – so watch this space.
Not quite. You can’t use it on cruises, for example. We recommend you check with your travel agent or holiday provider if you’re unsure.
Yes. If you carry an EHIC, you can receive treatment no matter what the condition or how long you've been suffering from it. It also covers routine maternity care. Just be aware – it will not cover you if you are going to the EU purely to be treated for the pre-existing illness.
An EHIC expires after five years, so check the expiration date on all the cards in your household. When on holiday, keep the cards with you at all times – anything could happen, and you never know when you might require medical care abroad.And don’t forget to check back here every few months for what to expect with EHIC, post-Brexit.