European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

Healthcare abroad can be extremely expensive. So what can you do to reduce your travel costs if you require medical assistance?

If you are travelling within the EU you need to apply for a European Health Insurance Card. The EHIC ensures your right to healthcare in the EEA (European Economic Area) and Switzerland while you are abroad. It can also reduce your costs if you need to claim for medical treatment on your travel insurance by reducing your policy excess.

With an EHIC you will still need to buy travel insurance, as not all medical costs will be covered by the card. If you book your travel insurance policy with and you need to use your EHIC, we will waive the excess on your claim if it results in a reduction in the medical bills we have to pay.

Please Note: Even though the UK has now left the EU, the EHIC will still be valid until at least the end of the transition period.

Points to remember about your EHIC:

  • The EHIC is free to UK residents over 16
  • Residents of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not eligible to apply
  • If you get sick while you are in the EEA or Switzerland, you'll receive state provided healthcare at a reduced rate - in some cases it might even be free
  • The EHIC cannot be used in regions where there is no state provided healthcare
  • Carry your EHIC with you at all times in case of medical emergencies as proof of your entitlement to healthcare
  • There are certain costs (e.g. repatriation and private healthcare) that the EHIC does not cover, which is why you will still need to have comprehensive travel insurance
  • Treatment for pre existing medical conditions will be covered
  • If pregnant, you can receive maternity care should you need it. But you cannot receive care if you are travelling abroad specifically to give birth
  • The card will not cover you if you are travelling to a country to receive specific medical treatment
  • Bear in mind that types of healthcare that are free on the NHS in the UK might not be available overseas
  • Each individual must carry their own card
  • The EHIC is valid for 5 years so remember to renew it before it expires

To apply for an EHIC, visit your local post office, call 0845 606 2030 or apply online. It's quick and easy to apply, and it could mean you won't have to fork out for unforeseen medical expenses.