The UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) lets you get necessary state healthcare in EU countries, and some other countries, on the same basis as a resident of that country. This may be free or it may require a payment equivalent to that which a local resident would pay.
The UK GHIC has replaced the existing European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). If you have an existing EHIC you can continue to use it until the expiry date on the card. Once it expires, you'll need to apply for a UK GHIC to replace it.
You can apply for a new card up to 9 months before your current card expires.
A UK GHIC is free and lasts for up to 5 years. Apply for your new card through the NHS website. Avoid unofficial websites – they may charge you a fee to apply.
If you have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, you can choose to apply for a new UK EHIC instead.
The UK GHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance. We advise you to have private travel and medical insurance for the duration of your trip.
We also recommend you check FCDO travel advice on GOV.UK for the country you're visiting.
You can apply for a UK GHIC if you're a resident in the UK. You can also add your family members to your application when you apply.
You'll need to provide your:
- full name
- date of birth
- National Insurance or NHS number (if you're from England or Wales)
- CHI number (if you're from Scotland)
- Health and Care number (if you're from Northern Ireland)
Applying for family members
Every member of your family needs their own card. You can add your spouse, civil partner and children to your application when you apply. You must enter your own details first and apply for any additional cards when prompted.
If you've already completed your application and want to add additional family members contact NHS Overseas Healthcare Services. You'll need to give us your reference number, name, date of birth and address so we can access your record.
After you apply
After you've submitted your application, we'll email you within 24 hours to let you know whether it has been approved or not (if you don't get a reply, check your junk folder). We may need to see additional information or documents before approving it.
Once your application has been approved, you should receive your new card within 15 working days. It will be sent to you by post.
If you do not receive it before you travel, and need medically necessary treatment during your visit, you can apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) to get temporary cover. For more information, see "If you don't have your card with you" towards the end of this page.
If you have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement
If you have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, you can choose to apply for a new UK EHIC rather than a UK GHIC. A UK EHIC provides cover for some countries that are not currently covered by the UK GHIC (these are Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). Like the UK GHIC, it's free and lasts up to 5 years. You can find out if you have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement on GOV.UK.
What your card covers
You can use your card to get state healthcare that cannot reasonably wait until you come back to the UK (sometimes called "medically necessary healthcare"). This includes things like:
- emergency treatment and visits to A&E
- treatment or routine medical care for long-term or pre-existing medical conditions
- routine maternity care, as long as you're not going abroad to give birth
You'll need to pre-arrange some treatments with the relevant healthcare provider in the country you're visiting – for example, kidney dialysis or chemotherapy – as it's not guaranteed that local healthcare providers will always have the capacity to provide this care.
Whether treatment is medically necessary is decided by the healthcare provider in the country you're visiting.
Not all state healthcare is free outside of the UK. You may have to pay for treatment that you would get for free on the NHS, if a local resident would be expected to pay in the country you're visiting.
Before travelling, you should check the state-provided healthcare services in the country you're visiting and any potential charges you may face.
What your card does not cover
A UK GHIC (or UK EHIC) does not replace travel and medical insurance or cover services like:
- being flown back to the UK (medical repatriation)
- treatment in a private medical facility
- ski or mountain rescue
We advise that you have a UK GHIC (or UK EHIC) and private travel and medical insurance for the duration of your trip.
Where you can use your card
You can use a UK GHIC when you're visiting:
- an EU country (see a list of EU countries on GOV.UK)
- Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man
- St Helena, Tristan and Ascension
You can use a UK GHIC in Switzerland if you're one of the following:
- a British national
- a Swiss national
- an EU citizen
- a refugee
- a stateless person
- a family member of someone who holds one of the above nationalities or statuses
The UK government is negotiating with other countries to expand the use of the UK GHIC, so always check coverage before you travel.
You can use a UK EHIC when you're visiting:
- an EU country (see a list of EU countries on GOV.UK)
You can use a UK passport to get medically necessary healthcare in Norway if you're a UK resident.
You can get free emergency treatment in Montenegro but you'll have to pay for your prescribed medicines and for other medical treatment.
If you're a UK national, your UK passport will give you access to emergency healthcare in Montenegro.
If you're a UK resident but not a UK national you'll need your passport and a UK GHIC (or UK EHIC) to get emergency healthcare.
Getting healthcare in other countries
You'll have to pay for treatment unless the UK has a healthcare agreement with that country.
Check if you're eligible for a UK GHIC
You'll be entitled to a UK GHIC if both of these things apply:
- you're ordinarily and legally resident in the UK
- you do not have healthcare cover provided by an EU country or Switzerland
You may also be entitled to a UK GHIC if you're:
- living in the EU or Switzerland with a registered S1 form
- living in the EU or Switzerland with an A1 document issued by the UK
- a family member or dependant of an entitled individual already listed
Check if you're eligible for a UK EHIC
You may be eligible for a new UK EHIC if you meet one of the following criteria:
- you're living in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein, and have been since before 1 January 2021 with a registered S1, E121, E106 or E109 form issued by the UK
- you're living in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein since before 1 January 2021 with an A1 issued by the UK
- you're a national of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein who has legally resided in the UK since before 1 January 2021 and are covered under the Withdrawal Agreement – you may not be covered if you are also a UK national or if you were born in the UK
- you're a family member or dependant of an entitled individual already listed
If your circumstances change and you no longer meet one of the above criteria, you may not be entitled to continue using the card and should contact NHS Overseas Healthcare Services.
You must be entitled to use your UK GHIC or UK EHIC at the time of the treatment. If you use it to access healthcare that you're not entitled to, you may be liable for the full cost of all treatment received or face prosecution.
Applying for a UK Student EHIC or UK GHIC
To apply for a UK Student EHIC or UK GHIC, you'll need a letter from your university or college showing:
- the name and address of the UK educational institution if you're travelling as part of your course
- the address of where you're studying in the EU or Switzerland
- details of the qualification you're studying for
- the dates your study period in the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland started and is due to finish
- your permanent residential address in the UK
If the letter from your university or college does not include your permanent residential address in the UK, you'll be asked to provide further evidence to confirm this.
This is in addition to the information set out in "How to apply" above.
Students studying in the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland applying for a UK Student EHIC or UK GHIC
If you normally live in the UK and have been studying in the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland since before 1 January 2021, you may be eligible for a new UK Student EHIC for use in the EU and your country of study.
You will not be able to use this card for treatment in Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein unless one of these countries is your country of study.
If you started your course after 1 January 2021, or you're planning to study in an EU country, you'll need to apply for a UK Student GHIC. If you're studying in Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein you can also apply for a UK GHIC but it will not cover you for treatment in those countries, even if you are studying there.
You can use the UK Student GHIC in the EU, Switzerland and your country of study, but not yet in Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.
Using a UK GHIC (or UK EHIC) when abroad
You should take your UK GHIC (or UK EHIC) with you when you travel abroad. If you need medically necessary treatment, you'll need to present the card to the hospital (or other service provider) that is treating you – make sure that you are being treated at a public health provider and not a private one. Keep all receipts and paperwork.
Depending on the country you visit you may be expected to pay all or part of your bill upfront and then claim a refund afterwards.
Some countries ask patients to pay a contribution towards the cost of their care. This is known as a co-payment or patient share. You can claim back the difference between the total bill and the co-payment, but the actual co-payment is not refundable.
Your UK GHIC or UK EHIC will not cover costs that a local resident would have to pay.
If you don't have your card with you
If you need emergency treatment when you're in another country and do not have your UK GHIC (or UK EHIC) with you, you can apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC). A PRC gives you the same level of cover as a UK GHIC or UK EHIC.
A PRC also covers you if you've applied for a UK GHIC or UK EHIC and it has not arrived yet.
You'll need to pay in full for treatment if you do not have a UK GHIC, UK EHIC or PRC. You should ask for a copy of your invoice and obtain a receipt.
How to claim a refund
To claim a refund for healthcare covered by your UK GHIC or UK EHIC, you'll need to download and fill in a refund claim form and send it to NHS Overseas Healthcare Services. You should include receipts and any supporting documents with your claim form.
Incorrect charges for treatment
If you think you've been incorrectly charged for medical treatment, contact NHS Overseas Healthcare Services.
Keep all documents relating to your treatment. You may need to provide more information to confirm your eligibility and the cost of the treatment you had. This could include:
- receipts or invoices relating to treatment
- confirmation that the treatment was state-provided
- confirmation of payments made to healthcare institutions
- documents relating to insurance cover if your insurer paid for treatment
- discharge documents
NHS Overseas Healthcare Services will look at your claim to decide whether you were charged when you should have been covered. If they determine that your treatment should have been covered by the UK GHIC or UK EHIC, they'll reimburse you or your insurer for the costs of treatment that are covered by your card.
Page last reviewed: 12 December 2023
Next review due: 12 December 2026