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EHIC and GHIC cards: What you need to know

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Your EHIC is still valid in the EU for 5 years or until it expires, then you replace it with the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).

The GHIC works in the same way as a EHIC, and gives UK citizens access to state-supplied healthcare in Europe. It replaced the EHIC when the UK left the EU.

An EHIC or GHIC card provides access to essential medical treatment when you’re overseas.  But it’s not a substitute for travel insurance.  Here’s what you need to know.

A woman holding up a blue EHIC card

The GHIC provides access to necessary state-supplied medical care if you need it while you’re in the EU. The GHIC card means you pay the same price for the treatment as citizens of that country, or for free. In some countries, you get it at a reduced rate.

It works in the same way as the EHIC, but it's not valid in some of the countries that the EHIC was.

The GHIC is valid in these EU countries:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden

The GHIC is not valid in these countries. But you can use your EHIC if it hasn't expired:

  • Norway
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Switzerland

If you’re travelling to these countries and you have a GHIC, you need travel insurance with healthcare cover.

UK visitors in Norway can use their UK passport to get some medical treatment such as emergency healthcare and treatment for pre-existing conditions.

These areas don't accept the EHIC or GHIC:

  • The Isle of Man
  • Jersey
  • Monaco
  • San Marino
  • The Vatican

What has changed with the EHIC?

Now, you can't get a new EHIC if you’re travelling to the EU. Instead you apply for a GHIC. Both cards allow you to get state healthcare across Europe at a reduced cost or for free.

EU nationals living in the UK should still be able to apply for an EHIC card.

UK citizens living in the EU should be able to apply for an EHIC so long as you were living in the EU before 1 January 2021. These rights should be guaranteed under the UK-EU withdrawal agreement.

Yes, if your EHIC hasn't expired, it's still valid and you don't have to replace it until it expires.

As part of the withdrawal agreement, the EU confirmed that UK citizens could carry on using their existing EHIC until it expires.

EHIC cards last for 5 years. To find out how long is left on your card, check the date on the front.

Existing EHICs and GHICs provide you with access to necessary state-supplied healthcare in the EU. ‘Medically necessary’ treatment is something that can’t wait until you return to the UK. This includes:

  • Emergency medical care and A&E visits
  • Treatment for long-term or pre-existing medical conditions
  • Routine medical care for pre-existing conditions that need monitoring
  • Chemotherapy
  • Oxygen therapy and dialysis

Routine maternity care should also be included, so long as you haven’t travelled to the country just to give birth.

If you're still unsure if your treatment is covered, you can use the European Commission's online tool to check what's covered in different countries.

Some of the costs not covered by an EHIC or GHIC include:

  • Returning to the UK
  • The use of mountain rescue if you’re injured on a ski trip - you need ski travel insurance to cover this
  • Treatment where you have to travel to the EU
  • Private treatment

It’s important to be aware that state healthcare in other countries won’t necessarily be the same as in the UK.

This means that you might need to pay for things that are normally provided free of charge by the NHS.

Yes, you need travel insurance even if you have an EHIC or GHIC.

Your EHIC or GHIC provides valuable protection, but your treatment may not be free. Even if it is, you may face supplementary charges for other expenses like food while you're in hospital.

What our home & lifestyle insurance expert says

“The government recommends everyone travelling overseas has travel insurance. A good travel insurance policy should cover more of the costs you pay if you’re ill or have an accident while you’re away. It should also provide cover for:

  • Private hospitals
  • Rescue services
  • Repatriation back to the UK if necessary

"Travel insurance should also cover more than just medical expenses. You can also claim on your travel insurance for lost baggage, flight delays and if you’re forced to cancel your trip.

"You don’t need to arrange cover for each individual member of your family either. You can find good value family travel insurance policies that cover everyone.”

When you get a travel insurance quote with us, we won’t ask you if you have an EHIC or GHIC card. But travel insurance companies strongly insist that you have a GHIC or EHIC card if you’re travelling to an EU country.

You can apply for a GHIC from the NHS through the government website. It's free to get one.

To complete the online form, you need:

  • Your national insurance number
  • If you're travelling with someone, you'll need their national insurance number
  • Your NHS number

You won’t be asked about your state of health or any previous medical conditions.

To be eligible for a UK GHIC, you need to meet at least 1 of the following criteria:

  • You're legally living in the UK and don't have healthcare cover provided by an EU country or Switzerland
  • You're living in the EU or Switzerland with a registered S1, E121, E106 or E109 form issued by the UK
  • You're living in the EU or Switzerland with an A1 document issued by the UK
  • You're a family member or dependant of an entitled individual already listed

Once your application has been accepted, it should take around 15 working days to get your new GHIC card.

If you require emergency healthcare abroad and haven’t had your card, you can instead apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC).

You won't be able to renew your EHIC. You have to apply for the new GHIC from the NHS through the government website.

You can apply for a GHIC up to 6 months before the expiration date. This means you can organise it well in advance of your trip, and you aren't left without a card.

As soon as you realise your EHIC or GHIC is stolen or lost, you should apply for a PRC.

You can do so by calling the NHS Overseas Healthcare services at +0191 218 1999.

A PRC proves that you’re entitled to healthcare in Europe and provides the same level of cover as your lost or stolen card.

When applying for a PRC, you need:

  • Your personal details such as your name and address
  • Your National Insurance number
  • Your date of birth
  • The name of the treatment facility
  • The email address for the specific department providing your treatment

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