1. ITV Report

Your rights if you need health treatment on holiday

UK residents can use their EHIC to get free medical care while travelling in Europe Photo: NHS

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives UK residents access to free, or reduced-cost, state healthcare when travelling in Europe.

Do you have to pay for it?

I've got travel insurance, do I need an EHIC too?

  • The NHS recommends travellers should have both: an EHIC as well as a private travel insurance policy.
  • Some insurers now insist you hold an EHIC.
  • Many will waive the excess if you have one.

Where can I use it?

Who can get one?

  • UK residents of British, other EU/EEA or Swiss nationality can apply online
  • Other nationalities must apply by post providing evidence of UK residence, such as a visa, a letter from the Home Office or an employer, or an approved A1, S1, E101, E106 or E109 form.
  • Residents of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not eligible.
  • You can also apply by phoning the automated service on 0300 3301350 or you can download an application form and post to: NHS Business Services Authority, European Health Insurance Card, EHIC applications, Bridge House, 152 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 6SN
  • You can apply on behalf of your partner and any dependent children in full-time education under the age of 19.
  • If you are under 16 a parent or guardian will need to apply for you.
  • Your card will normally arrive within seven days.

What is covered?

The EHIC will cover any medical treatment that becomes necessary during your trip, for example because of either illness or an accident.

In some countries you may have to pay a patient contribution, which may be refunded when you're back in the UK.

In an emergency you can dial the European emergency number 112 from any telephone or mobile phone.

The card covers:

  • Treatment of a chronic or pre-existing medical condition that becomes necessary during your visit.
  • All routine maternity care, as long as you're not specficially going abroad to give birth.
  • Oxygen and kidney dialysis, providing it is pre-booked before travelling.
  • Routine medical care for people with pre-existing conditions that need monitoring.

What isn't covered?

  • Any private medical healthcare
  • Costs such as mountain rescue in ski resorts
  • Being flown back to the UK
  • Lost or stolen property
  • Medical expenses if you are going abroad specifically to have treatment (including giving birth).
  • Treatment in parts of the EEA where state-provided healthcare is not available.

How long is it valid for and how do you renew?

  • The EHIC is valid for up to five years.
  • Renewing your card is free and you can do it online if none of your personal details have changed.
  • If you need to amend personal details, call the automated EHIC application service on 0300 3301350 using your PIN.
  • You can renew an EHIC up to six months before the expiry date.

I've got an E111 form. Can I use that instead?

  • No, the EHIC replaced the old E111 in 2006 and all E111s are now invalid.

Am I covered even without my card?

  • Yes. You are covered for travel from the date the application is received.
  • If you do not have your card and need treatment abroad, you may be issued with a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC).
  • To apply, call the Overseas Healthcare Team on 00 44 191 218 1999 (Monday to Friday, 8am–5pm).

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