Your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) is vital for hassle-free travel in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. Showing it at a hospital or doctor’s surgery will enable you to access free or cheaper healthcare whilst you are there; you can use also it to receive routine treatment for maternity care and pre-existing medical conditions.
How to renew your European Health Insurance Card
An EHIC renewal is quick and easy to do, and can be done online if your personal details are the same as when you originally applied.
If you need to change some details because your personal circumstances have changed, you will need your PIN (personal identification number), which is conveniently written on your existing EHIC. You can find your PIN close to your date of birth – it will begin ‘UK’, followed by several numbers.
Unfortunately, if you don’t have your PIN and your details have changed you won’t be able to apply to renew your EHIC online – you will need to phone the NHS ehic application line (0300 3301350).
Change of address
If you have changed address, you will not need your PIN if all of your details have remained the same, or if you have informed EHIC of your change of address previously.
Renewing some of your family’s European Health Insurance Cards
In many households, different members of the family will have applied for European Health Insurance Cards at different times – perhaps the children have been away on school trips, or a parent has been away on business. If you need to renew one or more cards (but not all of them) it is still important to list all of the family members who have cards when you apply. If some are not due for renewal (that is, they will be valid for at least another six months) then they will not be renewed, but they will still be linked to those cards that are being renewed.
When to renew your EHIC
Your EHIC will last for up to five years and it is easy to forget to renew it – but an out-of-date EHIC will not be accepted as proof of entitlement to receive discounted or free healthcare services in other countries, so check before you travel that it is in date.
You can renew your European Health Insurance Card up to six months before it is due to expire, giving you more than enough time to get organised, apply and have your EHIC delivered before you travel. If you have a few months left on your old EHIC, these will not be added to the period that your new card will cover – your new card will cover you for five years from the date of issue.
The ehic is your only proof that you are entitled to healthcare in the EEA or Switzerland – your passport will not suffice – so it is very important that you take your card with you when you travel.