1. WHAT IS (EHIC) CARD?

The free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles the holder to free or discounted medical treatment at state-run hospitals and GPs in any European Union country, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.It will cover you for treatment that is needed to allow you to continue your stay until your planned return. It also covers you for treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and for routine maternity care, as long as you’re not going abroad to give birth.

If you’re in Europe and you’ve got an EHIC, you’ll be entitled to the same treatment that local citizens are entitled to – extremely useful in emergencies. It’s completely free and valid for five years. All UK residents are eligible, residents of the Channel Islands and Isle of Man isn’t.

The EHIC has replaced the old E111 in 2006. The card is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, being flown back to the UK, or lost or stolen property. Therefore, it is important to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy. Some insurers now insist you hold an EHIC and many will waive the excess if you have one.

2. WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

There are strict eligibility criteria for the issue of the European Health Insurance Card. Applications which do not meet the criteria will not have a card issued however will still be charged. The following are some guidelines.

To be issued with a card:

  • You must have British, EU, EEA or Swiss nationality.
  • All persons specified on your application must be UK residents.
  • All persons named on your application must have consented to their personal details being disclosed.

You must not apply for a card if:

  • You do not have British, EU, EEA or Swiss nationality.
  • You receive a state pension or other long term benefit from the UK and live in an EU member state.
  • You depend on a citizen working in the UK and live in a European Union member state.

Other restrictions also apply in some circumstances. Please refer to your local government provided information for these other conditions and restrictions.

UK citizens are referred to the UK Department of Health pages about the European Health Insurance Card for more information and application procedures.

3. I HAVE TRAVEL INSURANCE, WHY DO I NEED AN EHIC?

The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, being flown back to the UK, or lost or stolen property. Therefore, it is important to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy. Some insurers now insist you hold an EHIC and many will waive the excess if you have one.