Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) / European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020, with a transition period that lasted until the end of that year. Since January 2021 there have been several changes for UK citizens travelling to the EU, the EHIC card is one of those changes.
As we are no longer part of the EU, we cannot apply for a new European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), instead we can apply for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which essentially does the same job.
However, there are some changes to the validity of both cards which you should be aware of:
- If you already hold a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) it will continue to be valid for use in EU countries until the expiry date on the card.
Eu countries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
- Once your EHIC has expired you will be able to apply for the new GHIC (UK Global Health Insurance Card) which will work in the same way.
- Neither an existing EHIC or a new GHIC will be valid if you are travelling to Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.
- There are also additional criteria for your card to be valid in Switzerland.
To use your GHIC or EHIC in Switzerland, you must be one of the following:- a British national
- a Swiss national
- an EU citizen
- a refugee
- a stateless person
- the dependant or survivor of someone with one of these nationalities or statuses
Please note: A GHIC or EHIC proves your entitlement to state provided health care on the same terms as a local resident, it does not mean that it will be free and it does not cover the cost of repatriation (getting you home).
5 things you need to know about a GHIC
- Beware of unofficial sites which may charge you for applying, GHICs are free of charge.
- You should also note that the EHIC and the GHIC no longer cover healthcare in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein.
- A GHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance, because although it proves your right to state provided health care in the country you are visiting, it does not mean that treatment is free of charge, it simply means that you can access it on the same basis as a local.
- A GHIC will also not cover the cost of repatriation, getting you home, if illness or injury means you are unable to travel on your pre-booked flight. You need travel insurance to cover that cost.
- A GHIC can save you money. If you use an EHIC or GHIC when obtaining medical treatment in the EU, and this results in a reduced cost for your travel insurer, they will often reduce the amount of any excess payment you are required to make.