How do I get an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card)?

The quickest way is to apply online. Your EHIC will normally arrive within seven days and will usually be valid for five years.

Is there a charge for an EHIC?

No. EHICs are free. Beware of unofficial websites that may charge you to apply.

Applying for your EHIC

You can apply for an EHIC online or by calling the automated EHIC application service on 0300 3301350. You can also download an application form (PDF, 122kb) and apply by post. Read more about the EHIC card for information about applying. 

Does each person travelling need their own card?

Yes. You can use the same EHIC application to apply for cards for:

  • yourself
  • your partner
  • any dependent children under 19 in full-time education

You’ll need to provide these details for each person:

  • National Insurance number or NHS number (CHI in Scotland or Health and Care Number in Northern Ireland)
  • first names and surname (family name)
  • date of birth

If you’re under 16, your parent or guardian will need to apply for you.

When and where can I use my EHIC?

You can use your EHIC when you visit a country in the EEA (European Economic Area) or Switzerland, for example, on a holiday or business trip.

You cannot use your EHIC if you’re moving abroad to live, work or study or going abroad for planned treatment.

What does the EHIC cover?

The EHIC covers:

  • medical treatment you may need during your visit if you’re ill or have an accident
  • treatment for long-term (chronic) conditions and existing illnesses, such as kidney (renal) dialysis
  • routine maternity care as long as you aren’t going abroad specifically to give birth

The EHIC does not cover private medical treatment.

Will I have to pay for treatment?

Many countries expect patients to pay towards the cost of their treatment. The EHIC allows you to access healthcare from state providers on the same basis as a resident of the country you’re visiting. This means at a reduced cost or sometimes free of charge.

Even with an EHIC, you may have to pay towards your treatment, depending on the rules in the country you’re visiting. You may be able to claim the money back – always try to apply for a refund before you return home. Find out how to do this in the country-by-country guide.

Do I still need travel insurance?

Yes. Make sure you have valid travel insurance for your trip. The EHIC will not cover costs such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, being flown back to the UK, or lost or stolen property.

Renewing your EHIC

You can renew your EHIC up to six months before the expiry date. The quickest way to renew it is online. You can also renew it by phone or post but this takes longer.

Further information:

 

Page last reviewed: 04/06/2013

Next review due: 03/06/2015