Travel Tips > Holiday Health > European health insurance card

European Health Insurance Card:

Why you need one and how it could save you money

Please note: Although the UK has now left the EU, the EHIC will be valid until the end of the transition period.

If you are travelling within the EU you should apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before you travel. The EHIC ensures your right to receive state provided healthcare in the EEA (European Economic Area) and Switzerland while you are on holiday.

You should note that state provided healthcare in other EU countries may not be to the same standard as the NHS, and it is unlikely to be completely free.

Having an EHIC does not take away the need for travel insurance for your holiday. The EHIC proves your right to state provided health care, but it does not cover all medical costs, particularly in private clinics, or repatriation back to the UK if you need it.

Although having an EHIC doesn't mean that you can travel without travel insurance, it can help reduce your costs if you do need to make a claim for medical treatment in the EU or Switzerland.

If you buy your travel insurance policy from and you require medical treatment abroad, we will waive the excess on your claim if using your EHIC results in a reduction in the medical bills that we have to pay.

Some 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
  • 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.

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