If you're a citizen of the UK, the card entitles you to free or discounted medical treatment when you're in an EU country
Medical care for UK citizens in the EU
From 1 January 2021, the European Health Insurance Card (Ehic) is being replaced with the UK Global Health Insurance Card (Ghic) for all EU countries.
If you’ve already applied or wish to apply for an Ehic, you’ll now receive the new Ghic instead in most cases. Both are valid if you’re visiting an EU country.
Here, EHA outline what’s changing, the healthcare cover these cards provide in Europe and what extra protection you may need on your travels there.
What is the Ghic?
The UK Global Health Insurance Card is the Ehic’s replacement from 1 January 2021. It gives you the same access to healthcare in EU countries as the Ehic, for free or at reduced cost.
Should I replace my Ehic with a Ghic?
There’s no need to replace an existing Ehic that’s still in date with a new Ghic until it expires. They cover you for the same things and you can continue to use it in EU countries until its expiry date. But UK nationals applying for a new Ehic card will receive the Ghic instead.
Can I still use my Ehic after 1 January 2021?
Given the changes to the Ehic card after Brexit, is it still valid for trips to the Europe? That depends where abouts in Europe you’re travelling to.
If your Ehic is still in date and you’re UK national living in the UK, you can continue to use it in any EU country after 1 January 2021 until its expiry date. But you can no longer use it in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, which aren’t part of the EU.
What does an Ehic or Ghic cover and where?
If you fall ill or are injured on a temporary visit to an EU country, a valid Ehic or Ghic will entitle you to the same emergency or necessary state healthcare as its local citizens. This often means healthcare would be provided for free or at a much lower cost than they’d be without a valid card.
What isn’t covered by Ehic or Ghic?
One of the biggest changes since the UK left the EU is that the Ghic and most Ehics no longer give UK nationals access to healthcare in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland as they did before. That’s unless you were already visiting one of them before 1 January 2021, in which case your existing Ehic is valid until you leave, if it’s still in date.
It’s important to get travel insurance with health cover in place for trips to these countries, and for any overseas travel – especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Check it’s safe to travel with the latest FCDO travel advice before you go.
Remember, Ehic and Ghic do not cover every eventuality. For instance, mountain rescue and medical repatriation are not provided for. They do not cover private treatment.
To get one, just fill out an application on the GHIC website or by calling the NHS on 0300 330 1350. Once you've got a card, it's valid for the next 5 years.
Your card is valid for five years and each card covers just one person. If you have a child under 16, include them on your application and you’ll both receive your own GHIC.
You can also get treatment for a chronic or pre-existing medical condition during your trip. The GHIC card must be carried with you at all times if you need treatment – so pop it in your bag or wallet when you're out and about.
Your GHIC card is valid in the following countries:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus (Southern), Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden. From the 1st January 2021, GHICs and most UK EHICs will not cover you in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland. If you are visiting these countries, make sure you have travel insurance with health cover and check the GOV.UK travel advice.
The GHIC is valuable protection, but it isn't a replacement for travel insurance.
By having both, you reduce the risk of large medical bills, delays in treatment and a huge amount of stress in the event of a medical emergency.
You pay the same as a citizen of the country you are currently in. That means if citizens of that country are expected to pay for medical treatment, you will too.
By Telephone - You can telephone the NHSBSA automated GHIC Application Line on 0300 330 1350. Your application should be processed within 10 days. There will be no charge for making your application in this way.
Online - You can use the NHSBSA website which can be found at www.nhs.uk/ghic to apply for your GHIC. There will be no charge for making your application in this way. Alternatively you can use our check and send service. Prior to forwarding your application to the NHSBSA on the official website our staff will examine your application for errors made during the application process, such as undeliverable addresses and incorrect eligibility ages. A processing fee of £29.98 will be charged to cover administrative and operational expenses.