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EHIC Cards – An Essential Guide

An EHIC card is an essential piece of travel documentation if you are travelling within the European Economic Union. It replaces the old E111 form; however it is not a replacement for travel insurance. For everything you need to know about the EHIC, what it covers and crucially, what it does not cover, take a look at our essential guide to travelling in Europe.

What is a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?

An EHIC Card is an essential piece of travel documentation if you are travelling within the European Economic Union and replaces the old E111 form. This is a reciprocal agreement within Europe, so European travellers in the UK can also have access to the NHS should they need it whilst they are here.

A European Health Insurance Card entitles the holder to reduced-cost, sometimes free, emergency treatment within the following EU countries:

Austria, Belgium, Cyprus (but not in North Cyprus), Czech, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Is all medical treatment free with an EHIC?

You will be entitled to the same treatment as the local citizens in that country; however, not all countries have a health care system as comprehensive as our own NHS. Therefore, whilst you may receive certain treatments for free, you may still have to make a patient contribution because they are not free to the locals in that country. These can be substantial.

What is not covered by an EHIC?

The EHIC entitles you to the same treatment as the local citizens are entitled to, which can be crucial in an emergency. Some of the things the EHIC card does not cover you for include:

•    The cost of medical treatment in a private hospital or clinic;
•    The additional cost of returning to your home country or for a relative to stay or fly out to be with you;
•    If you are travelling abroad specifically to get treatment for a medical condition;
•    If you are travelling abroad specifically to give birth;
•    Cancellations, delays, lost or stolen property or repatriations back to the UK.

It is important to note in a medical emergency you may have no control over the hospital you are taken to and the closest hospital may be private.

How do I get an EHIC card?

You can apply for an EHIC card on the official EHIC website or by calling them on 0300 330 1350.
You could also download and print the application form from the NHS website and send the completed form to:
NHS Business Services Authority, European Health Insurance Card, EHIC Applications, Bridge House, 152 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 6SN.

Does everyone in the family need their own EHIC card?

Yes. Every member of the family needs their own card. If your child is under 16 years old you will need to apply on their behalf. You can also apply on behalf of your partner.

You will need the following information for every person you are applying for:

•    Full name
•    Date of birth
•    NI or NHS number (CHI number in Scotland, or Health and Care Number in Northern Ireland)

Do I need to carry my card with me when I travel?

It is advisable to have your card with you at all times, in case of an emergency.

However, if you find yourself without it in an emergency, you may be able to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate by calling the Overseas Healthcare Team on 00 44 191 218 1999 (Monday to Friday, 8am–5pm). It's a good idea to save this number in your phone.

Will I have to pay anything up front for treatment?

In some countries you may be required to pay a patient contribution upfront, which you may be able to claim back at a later date. Keep all receipts and documentation.