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European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

Learn about the EHIC and apply or renew now

Image of an EHIC

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.

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An EHIC gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare on temporary stays in other European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free. It will cover immediate and clinically necessary state-funded treatment until your planned return home to the UK.

It 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's 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, please read our section on seeking medical treatment in Europe.

How to apply for an EHIC?

The main applicant for the EHIC will normally need to be ordinarily resident in the UK and of British, EU, EEA or Swiss nationality to be eligible for the card. Providing a National Insurance (NI) or NHS number, for example, helps prove applicants are entitled to apply for an EHIC.

If the nationality of the main applicant is not of those mentioned above, they will need to provide further evidence that they are ordinarily resident in the UK. Proof of entitlement could be a visa, a letter from Home Office, a letter from an employer, or an approved form, such as the A1 or S1.

If you are living in another EEA country, you receive a UK State Pension or any other benefits that can be paid to you when you move abroad (exportable benefits) and have an S1 form registered abroad, you may be entitled to a UK-issued EHIC. For more information, read our page on the EHIC for pensioners and early retirees.

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

If you are ordinarily resident in the UK or are a UK, EU/EEA or Swiss national, you can apply for the EHIC online for an EHIC, which is free of charge. You can also apply by phoning the automated service on 0300 330 1350, or submit an EHIC application form to the NHS Business Services Authority (see form and address below).

If you are not a UK, EU/EEA or Swiss national but your partner is, you will have to apply by post. You will need to complete the EHIC application form (PDF, 122kb), attach a copy of your visa or Home Office letter, and post it to:

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

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) 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

If you are the main applicant but your nationality is not one of those mentioned above, you will have to provide further evidence that you are eligible. You will need to complete an EHIC application form (PDF, 122kb), attach a copy of your visa or Home Office letter, and post it to:

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

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 – you can renew your EHIC online if none of your personal details have changed.

Living abroad

If you live abroad and receive a UK State Pension or exportable UK benefit, or you are a posted worker, 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 card 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. Find out more:

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 EHIC 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.

In an emergency, you can dial the European emergency number 112 from any telephone or mobile phone.

Since July 1st 2014 you can no longer claim refunds for patient contributions (co-payments) in the UK.

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 that is 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 card with me?

    If you travel and do not have your card with you and you need medical treatment during your visit, you may be issued with a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) to prove your entitlement to the EHIC. This will be sent directly to the place of treatment.

    To apply for a PRC, call 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.

    You will need to provide your name, address and date of birth.

    What happens if my card is lost or stolen?

    If you need to replace a lost EHIC, call 0300 330 1350, Monday to Friday 8am to 11am. 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'll need to provide your full name, UK address, date of birth and your EHIC personal identification number (PIN) if you know it.

    If your EHIC is lost or stolen while you are abroad and you require treatment, you should 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.

    To apply, call 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 of the opening hours, you should call the OHT 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?

    Some European health systems expect you to pay your bill when you are treated and then claim a refund afterwards. If possible, apply for your refund before you return home. You can find out how to do this in the relevant country guide.

    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 or reimbursement.

    Changes to EHIC co-payment reimbursement

    In some countries you may have to pay a patient contribution, also known as a co-payment. These payments are typically for things like GP or dentist consultations, prescriptions or stays in hospital. See our country-by-country guide for more details.

    Since July 1 2014, patients have not been able to claim for reimbursements for co-payments.

    What does this mean for me?
    If you visit another EEA country where that country requires its own citizens to pay a patient contribution, you will also need to pay for this.

    You cannot claim reimbursement for this payment for treatment received after July 1 2014. However, you may still be able to claim reimbursements for any co-payments you made for treatment received abroad before July 1 2014.

    Your EHIC still 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.

    Where can I get advice?
    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

    Page last reviewed: 06/01/2016

    Next review due: 06/01/2018

    Apply now for an EHIC - external website

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    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, call the Overseas Healthcare Team on 0191 218 1999.

    Media last reviewed: 16/06/2015

    Next review due: 16/06/2017