Make sure your EHIC is still valid

If you’re planning a European getaway this year, make sure you check the expiration date on your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

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EHICs have a lifespan of five years, which means an estimated 4 - 5 million of these valuable supplements to travel insurance expire each year.

Check out our Q&A of what you need to do to ensure you’re covered when you’re on your European break. 

Hang on a sec – remind me what an EHIC is?

An EHIC entitles you to medical treatment in most European countries on the same terms as a local resident.

It’s in no way a replacement for travel insurance, but it’s valuable added protection that ensures you get quick and ready access to healthcare when and where you need it.

I didn’t realise my card had an expiry date. How do I renew?

EHICs need to be renewed every five years. The expiry date will be on the front of your card, and you can apply for a new card six months before your card expires.

Applying for your EHIC can be done through the government's dedicated website.

Alternatively you can apply over the phone on 0300 330 1350 or print out the application form and send it to: NHS Business Services Authority, European Health Insurance Card, EHIC Applications, Bridge House, 152 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 6SN.

Is the EHIC free? I’ve seen some websites where I pay for my application to be processed…

The EHIC is free to apply for. Some unofficial websites charge a fee for processing your application, but this is not a requirement when applying for your card.

Be cautious when looking up the EHIC on Google as many ads are displayed which offer paid-for services.


Some members of my family need their cards renewing, some don’t. Do I need to enter everyone’s details?

When you visit the official EHIC website, enter all the details of your family members, including those with in-date cards. The system will flag the ones which cannot be renewed, but will ensure your details are still kept together.

If you need to update your personal details you can do this by using your PIN. This is the number at the front of your card that begins with ‘UK’ and is displayed on the same line as your date of birth.

My name has changed since I last had my card. Can I still renew online?

Providing you have your PIN (see above) you can update your name and address online. If you don’t, you will have to contact the application line on 0300 330 1350.

If you’re unsure if your details are up-to-date, you can email or write to: EHIC Enquiries, PO Box 1114, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE99 2TL, providing your full name, UK address, date of birth and, if known, your PIN.

I have renewed my card but it hasn’t arrived in time for my holiday. Am I still covered?

Yes, you’re still covered if you don’t have the physical card with you. Your cover will be effective from the date of your phone or online application.

If you require medical treatment while you are away, you may need a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) to show that you’re entitled to medical assistance in line with EHIC entitlements.

The certificate will be sent to your place of treatment and you’ll have to call the Overseas Healthcare team to access one.

Lines are open from Monday to Friday between the hours of 8am and 5pm and the contact number is 00 44 191 218 199. When you call you will need the following details;

-Your name

-Your address

-Your date of birth

-Your National Insurance or NHS number. If you’re a Scottish national you’ll need your CHI number and residents of Ireland will need their Health and Care number. 

It’s worth making a note of this number before you go away. 

Where can I check what I am covered for?

From checking which countries accept the EHIC to why you’ll need travel insurance, take a look at our comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about the EHIC card.

So why do I still need travel insurance if I’ve got an EHIC?

Travel insurance provides valuable cover beyond emergency medical treatment, such as cancellation and curtailment of the trip, lost luggage and repatriation back to the UK if you are seriously injured or killed.

And remember, an EHIC won’t necessarily get you free healthcare – just healthcare on the same terms as a local.

Some travel insurers offer to waive the excess on their policy if you take out an EHIC.


Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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