What is a European Health Insurance Card?
The current system provides cardholders with access to state-provided healthcare overseas. But to qualify, it must be a medical necessity and:
- Required before a planned date of return to the United Kingdom.
- During a temporary stay in any of the EU countries (includes Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland).
- The treatment must be under the same conditions and cost as carried out for citizens in that country. Healthcare may be free in some countries.
The EHIC card replaced the outdated E111 system of getting medical treatment abroad. What does that mean exactly?
It relates to what types of medical treatment the EHIC card covers. It simple terms, it should cover all routine or specialist treatments. It can also extend to the monitoring of pre-existing conditions and repeat prescriptions.
Note: The healthcare provider would determine whether the treatment is necessary. But, only public hospitals or health centres will accept the European Health Insurance Card. It means you cannot use the EHIC card to see a private doctor.
Who Can Use EHIC
Being entitled to use the UK EHIC card depends on several factors. As a rule, you would qualify if you are a visitor on a temporary stay abroad (e.g. a holiday). But, the destination of the visit must be to one of the EEA countries or to Switzerland.
What if you are a UK state pensioner and you live within the EEA or in Switzerland? If this is the case, you should have registered for healthcare with an S1.
That means you can then apply for a European Health Insurance Card. You would be able to use it on a temporary visit to another EU member state (outside the country of your residence).
Note: Your nationality alone does not determine entitlement to an EHIC. It falls under insurability based on EU law.
EHIC Covers some Pre-arranged Treatments
Carrying a valid card may cover some pre-arranged treatment (e.g. kidney dialysis, oxygen). But, you would need to organise this kind of treatment at least one month in advance of travelling abroad.
You would also need to liaise with health authorities in the United Kingdom and in the country you will be visiting.
Note: Theemergency number 112 is free to call and valid within the EEA and Switzerland.
Apply for a European Health Insurance Card
You can either apply for or renew your free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) online. You must be from the United Kingdom, one of the countries in the European Economic Area (EEA), or from Switzerland.
Making an application for an EHIC does not replace foreign medical insurance. It does not guarantee you will get free healthcare abroad (unless citizens of the country do). In most cases, it offers a reduced or discounted rate of medical treatment (where necessary).
There is only one Official Government website for European Health Insurance Cards. You must be at least sixteen (16) years old to apply for a free ehic card using the registration process.
Note: There will be no change to the rights and status of EU nationals living in the UK, nor UK nationals living in the EU, while the UK remains in the EU.
EHIC Free Card Help and Information
The EHIC expiry date shows at the bottom corner of the card. This proves whether it is valid or not. Even so, you can renew an expired card up to six (6) before the valid one expires.
How to renew or replace a lost card:
To make a new application (or renew or replace a lost card) you will need to provide some personal information including:
- Your full name, address, and date of birth.
- Your National Insurance number or:
- NHS number in England and Wales.
- CHI number in Scotland.
- Health and Care number in Northern Ireland.
Once you reach 16, you will be able to fill in an application for a European Health Insurance Car yourself. Even so, every family member must have a card to get the cover.
So, how do you apply for a child?
You should include them as a ‘dependant’. There is a specific section on the application form for dependants. You would get a separate EHIC card for each member of the family.
There is a separate comprehensive UK travel advice abroad section covering other topics. But, the authorities say you should keep the medical card with you at all times.
In fact, if you do not have in your possession, you may get asked to pay up front. Thus, try not to leave it in the hotel room if you head off to the beach or go out on an excursion.
Note: The EHIC card does not replace travel or health insurance for expats or holidaymakers. You must apply for EHIC by post and show proof of residency if you are not from the UK, EEA or Switzerland.
Apply for EHIC by Post or by Phone
Applications from the UK, EEA, or Switzerland
In some cases, you will need to apply by phoning an automated service or by using postal methods.
You can download and fill in the European Health Insurance Card application form from NHS England. Send the completed application form to:
NHS Business Services Authority
European Health Insurance Card
152 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle Upon Tyne
Applications not from the UK, EEA, or Switzerland
The same process applies but you would also need to show evidence that you are a resident of the United Kingdom. There are several ways you can provide the evidence, such as:
- A copy of your UK visa.
- A letter from the Home Office or from your employer.
- An approved A1, S1, E101, E106 or E109 form.
Note: Check you meet the eligibility criteria before applying. Download the application form and send it to the NHS Business Services Authority address.
EHIC Does Not Replace Foreign Travel Insurance
Some people choose to travel overseas to get medical treatment in Europe. As a rule, the EHIC card will not cover the costs planned treatment abroad. Thus, you should make other arrangements to get specific medical treatment outside the United Kingdom.
Note: An international travel insurance policy should cover you and your family for the whole period you are in another country.
EHIC is Free: Beware of Shyster Websites
Many applicants search on the web to find out how to apply for a European Health Insurance Card. Be careful if your search puts you on copycat websites run by shysters.
Applying for EHIC is free. You do not need to use the services of a third party site. As a rule, they will charge you a fee or pretend they can fast track the system.