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What is a European Health Insurance Card, and do I need to get one?

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows anyone who is covered by a social security scheme of an European Economic Area (EEA) country to receive medical treatment in another member state should that treatment becomes necessary during their visit. The treatment will be either be administered for free or at a reduced cost.

The card covers accidents, illnesses and treatment for pre-existing medical conditions. This provides welcome peace of mind when you travel in Europe.

Each country’s healthcare system is slightly different so it's best to check exactly what's covered before you travel. Many counties will require you to pay for at least some of your treatment, although you may be able to claim the money back when you return to the UK.

The best way to apply for an EHIC is online. Fill out a simple form, and your card will usually arrive within seven days. You can also apply for an EHIC by post with a form obtainable from your local post office. And finally, you can apply for a card by phone by calling 0845 606 2030.

You can apply for an EHIC for your partner, and
any children under 18 who are in full-time education. You’ll need to provide a National Insurance number for each person, as well as their full names and date of births.

An EHIC is valid for up to five years, after which period you will need to apply for a new one. You can renew your EHIC up to six months before the expiry date.

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