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European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

Learn about the EHIC and apply or renew now

You can apply for or renew an EHIC using the official EHIC online application form. This is free of charge. Beware of unofficial websites, which may charge if you apply through them.

Read NHS Business Services Authority's FAQ on Why was I charged for a EHIC?. In addition, you can follow EHIC on Facebook  or Twitter for NHS BSA latest updates and for answers to your questions.

A valid European Health Insurance Card gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland. 

The EHIC covers treatment that is medically necessary until your planned return home. Treatment should be provided on the same basis as it would to a resident of that country, either at a reduced cost or, in many cases, for free. For example, in some countries, patients are expected to directly contribute a percentage towards the cost of their state-provided treatment. This is known as a patient co-payment. If you receive treatment under this type of healthcare system, you are expected to pay the same co-payment charge as a patient from that country. 

The EHIC also covers the treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care, provided the reason for your visit is not specifically to give birth or seek treatment. For more information about what is covered in each country, see our country-by-country guide.

Download the EHIC smartphone app from the European Commission website so you can easily access the information while you are abroad.

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. It is also not valid on cruises.

It is therefore important to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy in place before you travel. Some insurers now insist you hold an EHIC, and many will waive the excess if you have one.

If you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment, read the section on seeking medical treatment in Europe.

 

Who can apply for a UK-issued EHIC?

Residents of the United Kingdom

Entitlement to an EHIC is based on insurability under EU law, and not on a person's nationality. This applies to all EEA countries. The UK operates a residency-based healthcare system, which means that insurability is generally determined by residency and not by the past or present payment of National Insurance contributions or UK taxes.

If you are ordinarily resident in the UK and not insured by another EEA country, then you are likely to be considered to be insured by the UK under EU law and, therefore, will be entitled to a UK-issued EHIC. You will need to provide the necessary evidence when applying. There are certain circumstances where you may be entitled to a UK-issued EHIC despite living in another EEA country. Further details can be found in the 'Living in Europe' section below.

If you are insured by another EEA country but live in the United Kingdom, you are not entitled to a UK-issued EHIC. You should contact the relevant authority in the country you are insured by and request an EHIC.

Important: If your circumstances change, you may lose your entitlement to a UK-issued EHIC. If you then use your EHIC abroad, you may be liable for the full cost of treatment received. You may lose your entitlement to a UK-issued EHIC when you move abroad, take up work abroad, or change your residency status.

Families

Every family member requires an EHIC. You can make an application for yourself and on behalf of your partner and any dependent children under the age of 16. If you already have an EHIC, you must enter your own details first and apply for any additional cards when prompted.

If you are under the age of 16, a parent or guardian will need to apply for you. Boarding school teaching staff can apply on behalf of any children in their care.

You will need to give the following information for each person you are making an application for:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • National Insurance (NI) number or NHS Number (CHI number in Scotland, or Health and Care Number in Northern Ireland)

Temporary NI numbers cannot be used to apply for an EHIC. A temporary NI number uses the prefix "TN", the person's date of birth, and "M" or "F" to denote gender – for example, TN131160M.

Your card will normally arrive within seven days if you apply using the official EHIC website.

Non-EEA nationals

If you or a family member are not an EEA or Swiss national, you will have to provide further evidence that you are eligible. You will need to complete an EHIC application form (PDF, 425kb), attach a copy of your visa or UK residence permit, and post it to:

NHS Business Services Authority
European Health Insurance Card
EHIC applications
Bridge House
152 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 6SN

Living in Europe

If you live in another EEA country or Switzerland, you will be entitled to a UK-issued EHIC if one of the following applies to you: 

  • you receive a UK State Pension or exportable UK benefit and have a UK-issued S1 form (certificate of entitlement) registered in your country of residence
  • you are a worker posted to work in another EEA country or Switzerland by your UK employer, or a frontier worker living in the EEA and working in the UK
  • you are a family member of a posted worker or of someone working in the UK and you are not covered in your own right by the EEA country you reside in
  • you are a student going to another EEA country or Switzerland to study

For more detailed information, see the Moving abroad section or phone the EHIC enquiry line on 0300 330 1350. 

If you are not eligible for a UK-issued EHIC, you should see if you are eligible for an EHIC in the country you are currently living in. 

Residents of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not eligible for an EHIC.

How do I renew an EHIC for myself or family members?

The EHIC is valid for up to five years. Check your EHIC is still valid before you travel. You can renew an EHIC up to six months before the expiry date, but any time left on the card will not be added to your new card.

Renewing your card is free – if you are a UK resident, you can renew your EHIC online if none of your personal details have changed.

Non- EEA nationals

If you or a family member are not an EEA or Swiss national, you will have to provide further evidence that you are eligible. You will need to complete an EHIC application form (PDF, 425kb), attach a copy of your visa or UK residence permit, and post it to:

NHS Business Services Authority
European Health Insurance Card
EHIC applications
Bridge House
152 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 6SN

Living abroad

If you live abroad and you:

  • receive a UK State Pension or exportable UK benefit,
  • you are a posted or frontier worker,
  • or you are living in the EEA and are family member of someone working in the UK,

then you need to apply to renew your EHIC by contacting the Overseas Healthcare Team:

Overseas Healthcare Team
Room MO601
Durham House
Washington
Tyne & Wear
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE38 7SF

Tel: 0191 218 1999 Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm

Families

If you need to renew some but not all EHIC cards in your family, enter the details of all family members, including those who still have valid cards. This will ensure the details of all members of the family remain linked. A warning message will be displayed for those whose cards cannot be renewed, and only those cards that have expired or are due to expire will be renewed this time.

If you need to amend your personal details, you can only renew your EHIC online if you have your personal identification number (PIN), which is on your EHIC card. The PIN begins with "UK" – for example, UK123456 – and is found on the same line as your date of birth. It is a good reference number to have at hand, and makes it easier for the EHIC team to find your details on the system.

If some of your details have changed since your card was issued but you don't have your PIN, you may not be able to renew your card online. 

None of my details have changed
You can renew your EHIC card online – enter all of your details.

My name has changed
You can only renew online if you have a PIN. If you don't have a PIN, contact the application line on 0300 330 1350 to renew your card.

My address has changed
If none of your other details have changed or you previously informed the EHIC team of your change of address, you can renew your card online. Enter your new address in the address field. Your renewed card(s) will be sent to this address.

If you are unsure whether you have informed the EHIC team of any changes or there have been any other changes to your details, contact the enquiry line on 0300 330 1350.

Alternatively, you can email nhsbsa.ehicenquiries@nhsbsa.nhs.uk or write to:

EHIC Enquiries
PO Box 1114
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE99 2TL

You will have to provide your full name, UK address, date of birth and your PIN, if you know it. 

What is and isn't covered by the EHIC?

Each country's health system is different and might not include all the things you would expect to get free of charge from the NHS. This means you may have to make a patient contribution to the cost of your care. For more information, see our county-by-country guide.

Not covered

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. This makes it 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.

The EHIC will not cover your medical expenses if you are going abroad specifically to have treatment (including giving birth). Read more about planned treatment abroad.

You may not be able to use the card in some parts of the EEA, as state-provided healthcare may not be available.

Covered

    The card provides you with the right to access state-provided healthcare on temporary stays at a reduced cost or, in many cases, for free. This includes treatment of a chronic or pre-existing medical condition that becomes necessary during your visit.

    It includes routine maternity care (not only because of illness or an accident), as long as you're not going abroad to give birth. However, if the birth happens unexpectedly, the EHIC will cover the cost of all medical treatment for mother and baby linked to the birth.

    The EHIC covers the provision of oxygen and kidney dialysis, although you will have to arrange and pre-book these treatments before you go on holiday. You can ask your GP or hospital for advice, but make sure you are not booked with a private healthcare provider, as these are not covered by the EHIC.

    The card also covers routine medical care for people with pre-existing conditions that need monitoring.

    Am I covered abroad even if I do not have my EHIC with me?

    If you travel to Europe without your EHIC but then need medical treatment during your visit, you can be issued with a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) to prove your entitlement to the EHIC.

    You will need to apply for a PRC by calling the Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 (0)191 218 1999, Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm. It's a good idea to save this number in your phone. Someone else can also do this on your behalf.

    The PRC will give you the same cover as an EHIC until you return home. If you need to request a PRC outside of the opening hours, you should call the Overseas Healthcare Team to request the PRC as soon as possible for the next working day. You will need to provide your name, address and date of birth.

    The PRC can be faxed or emailed to the establishment where you are receiving treatment.

    What happens if my card is lost or stolen?

    If you need to replace a lost or stolen EHIC, you should call the enquiry line on 0300 330 1350, Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm and Saturday 9am to 3pm. A 24/7 voice automated service is also available.

    Alternatively, you can email nhsbsa.ehicenquiries@nhsbsa.nhs.uk or write to:

    EHIC Enquiries
    PO Box 1114
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    NE99 2TL

    You will need to provide your full name, UK address, date of birth, and your EHIC personal identification number (PIN), if you know it.

    If you are in Europe and in need of medical attention but your card was lost or stolen, you will need to apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC). Someone else can also do this on your behalf. This will give you the same cover as an EHIC until you return home. The PRC can be faxed or emailed to the establishment where you are receiving treatment.

    Simply phone the Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 (0)191 218 1999, Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm. It's a good idea to save this number on your phone. If you need to request a PRC outside opening hours, you should call the Overseas Healthcare Team to request the PRC as soon as possible for the next working day. You will need to provide your name, address and date of birth.

    Can I claim a refund?

    Your EHIC provides you with the right to access state-provided healthcare that becomes necessary during your trip, and you will be treated on the same basis as a resident of the country you are visiting. However, in some EEA countries you may be expected to pay your bill upfront and then   claim a refund afterwards.

    Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork (make copies if necessary). You or your insurance company may need them if you're applying for a refund.

    Some countries also ask patients to pay contributions towards the costs of their care, such as for prescription costs, also known as a co-payment. This means that if you are visiting another EEA country where co-payments are required, you will also need to pay for this.

    This is often non-refundable in that country and since July 1 2014 is also non-refundable in the UK. However, you may still be able to claim reimbursements for any co-payments made before July 1 2014.

    For further advice, contact the Overseas Healthcare Team at the Department of Work and Pensions:

    Overseas Healthcare Team
    Room MO401
    Durham House
    Washington
    Tyne & Wear
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    NE38 7SF

    Tel: 0191 218 1999 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm)

    EHIC: packing for your holiday

    Be prepared for your holiday, and make sure you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). It costs nothing to apply for or renew an EHIC. For more information, email the NHS Business Services Authority (nhsbsa.ehicenquiries@nhsbsa.nhs.uk) or call 0300 330 1350.

    Media last reviewed: 16/06/2015

    Next review due: 16/06/2017

    Page last reviewed: 29/04/2016

    Next review due: 29/04/2019

    EHIC and Brexit

    Following the results of the EU referendum, no changes have been announced to the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) service. The NHS Business Services Authority is continuing to provide the EHIC service as usual, and you can apply for and use your card as before.

     

    Apply now for an EHIC - external website

    EEA country guide

    Find out how you can access healthcare while travelling in the European Economic Area (EEA), including Switzerland

    Non-EEA country guide

    Find out which non-European Economic Area (EEA) countries have reciprocal healthcare agreements with the UK