If you are using an EHIC issued by the UK, this will still be valid until the UK leaves the EU.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, your access to healthcare when visiting an EU country is likely to change. If you are planning to visit on or after 31 October 2019, you should continue to buy travel insurance so you can get the healthcare treatment you need, just as you would if visiting a non-EU country.
The quickest way is to apply online. Your EHIC will normally arrive within 7 days and will usually be valid for 5 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
Does each person travelling need their own card?
Yes. You can use the same EHIC application to apply for cards for:
- 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 European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, such as on a holiday or business trip.
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 contribute 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 of 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 for the EHIC.
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 6 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.
Page last reviewed: 9 April 2018
Next review due: 9 April 2021