You may have heard that when travelling abroad, you’ll need an ‘EHIC’. But what is one, and are you entitled to one? EHIC stands for European Health Insurance Card, and it is a document that shows you are eligible for treatment in participating European nations under their own state healthcare system. Separate from your travel insurance, your EHIC is your proof that you are a resident of the UK and that you can receive treatment in our partner nations.
EHICs are valid in European Economic Areas, and across the European Union. Switzerland is also a qualifying nation. If you’re visiting overseas and are in an accident or become ill, you want to know that you’ll be well looked after in a registered and approved medical facility. Your EHIC is proof that you qualify for treatment under recent healthcare directives.
Does an EHIC replace travel insurance?
Many European nations require payment for treatment, and your EHIC does not exempt you from this. You will need a comprehensive insurance policy to ensure that you’re covered for any eventuality, and you may need to pay for your treatment at the time and claim back from your insurers when you return home. However, your EHIC is proof that you belong to a member state of the EU and that you qualify for treatment. It will help you to see a doctor much sooner, and will also ensure that your family and travelling companions are covered.
How do you get an EHIC?
Applications for European Health Insurance Cards can be completed quickly and simply online. All you need is each applicant’s name, date of birth, address and National Insurance number. You can apply for others with their permission or if you have parental or carer’s responsibility. Renewing your card can also be completed online, as long as none of your details have changed. Don’t have online access, or prefer to apply a different way? You can also submit your application via the postal service, or call up to speak to an advisor who will answer your questions and take your details.
How long does an EHIC last?
Your EHIC is valid for up to five years from the date of issue, and can be issued up to six months before it expires. Not having your card with you doesn’t exclude you from treatment – as long as you’re registered and know your details, you should still be able to be seen when needed. However, it is recommended to always carry your EHIC alongside your visa, passport and insurance documents when you’re travelling, just to be safe.
If you’re planning an overseas visit and think that you might need a European Health Insurance Card, you can make your applications today and you should have your new card within one week of processing. Make sure you’ve checked any existing cards before travelling, to ensure that they are in date. If you need any advice, please feel free to get in touch or check out our other frequently asked questions.