Are you covered on holiday?

Travel 2015-7-27

If you’re holidaying in Europe this summer, make sure you get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). It’s free and gives you access to medical care across Europe.

What is a European Health Insurance Card?

A EHIC entitles the holder to discounted, or sometimes free medical treatment, at GP and state-run hospitals in any European Union country, as well as Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.

The EHIC means you have access to the same treatment given to locals. So if they get free medical treatment then you will too, if they pay for treatment, then you will pay the same rates. The card is free, lasts for 5 years and all UK residents are eligible for one.

The EHIC doesn’t cover you if you’re going abroad specifically to receive medical treatment, it’s simply a backup in case anything unexpected happens to you whilst you’re there.  Visit the NHS website for more details.

If you already have a EHIC

If you already have a EHIC it’s important to check if it’s still valid before you go abroad. You will find the expiry date on the bottom right hand side of your card. If it’s expired, or it’s about to, then visit the EHIC website to apply for a new one.

You can do this up to six months before your current one expires and again, it’s completely free.

If you don’t have a EHIC

If you don’t have a EHIC don’t worry, they’re free and simple to apply for and only take about 10 days to come through.

You can apply for a EHIC in the following ways:

Apply on the EHIC website
Call 0300 330 1350 and order it over the phone (you can also call this number if your card has been lost or stolen)
Print off the application form from the NHS website, fill it out and post it to:

NHS Business Services Authority,
European Health Insurance Card,
EHIC Applications,
Bridge House,
152 Pilgrim Street,
Newcastle Upon Tyne,

Do kids need their own EHIC?

Although you must be over the age of 16 to apply, everyone that travels abroad requires a card. To apply for your child, simply include them as a dependent in the relevant section of your application, and you’ll each receive a separate EHIC.

Useful tips

Here are some useful tips that are worth bearing in mind when travelling abroad:

  • Even if you already have travel insurance, it’s worth getting a EHIC for extra protection.
  • Always check you are being treated under the public healthcare system when you show your EHIC and not private as this will cost you.
  • Only use the websites above to apply for a EHIC as some websites are fraudulent and demand a fee for it.
  • The EHIC is not intended to replace travel insurance, so it’s important that you have that level of cover as well when you’re travelling abroad.
  • Keep your EHIC with you at all times when abroad, you never know when you might need it.
  • Keep any receipts you are given from receiving medical treatment abroad, even if you don’t pay for it, it’s worth keeping just in case anything crops up.

Check out the NHS website for detailed information on what’s covered by your EHIC in each country.

If you’re looking for other ways to reduce the cost of your holiday, check out whether it’s cheaper to pre-book your summer holiday or wait for a last minute deal.

Hitachi Hints and Tips is intended to be informative and interesting. It does not constitute financial advice, and you should always do further research when making any financial decisions. All information was correct at date of publication.


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