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European Health Insurance Card

What is EHIC?

published: 09 December 2022
Read time: 5 minutes

As of January 2021, the UK no longer participates in the EHIC scheme. However, valid cards can still be used in certain countries. Learn about the new terms of the EHIC and its replacement, GHIC, in our guide.

What is a European Health Insurance Card? 

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is a scheme that the UK was previously enrolled in which provided UK citizens with reduced cost or free state healthcare for medically necessary treatments whilst travelling in countries within the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. 

man pulling suitcase through an airport

Can I still use my EHIC after Brexit? 

The UK has officially left the European Union. This means that as of January 1st 2021, the UK is technically no longer enrolled in the EHIC scheme. This means that UK citizens can no longer apply for a new EHIC if they don’t have one or their current one expires. 

You can continue to use your EHIC in participating countries until it expires. When it does, you will no longer be covered by the scheme. EHIC cards are valid for five years and the valid date is printed on the front of your card.  

You cannot apply for a new EHIC card unless you are one of the following:  

  • A national from the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland who, with their family, began living in the UK before January 1st 2021 

  • A British State Pensioner wo, with their family, began living in the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland before January 1st 2021 

  • A UK student who began studying and living in the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland before January 1st 2021 

Where can I use my EHIC? 

If your EHIC was issued before January 1st 2021 it is still valid and can be used in participating EU countries but is no longer being accepted in Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein.  

In Switzerland, you can only use your EHIC if you are one of the following:  

  • A Swiss national 

  • A British national 

  • An EU citizen 

  • A refugee 

  • A stateless person 

You can also use an EHIC if you are a survivor or dependant of someone that qualifies as one of the above nationalities or statuses.  

What will replace the EHIC?  

The new health insurance scheme for UK citizens is the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). This works in almost the exact same way as the EHIC and will provide you with reduced cost or free state healthcare in EEA participating countries. However, the GHIC will not be accepted in Norway, Iceland, or Lichtenstein. Switzerland also has applied the same limitations to the GHIC as with the EHIC, so not everyone will be able to use it.  

If you want to use your EHIC card abroad, make sure you check that you are travelling within your card’s expiration date. If your card has already expired or is about to expire, you can apply for the new GHIC through the NHS. It is completely free. 

You can find out more about how to apply for the new GHIC in our GHIC guide.  

Do I need travel insurance if my EHIC is still valid? 

A valid EHIC or GHIC card can be an invaluable safety net while travelling abroad to make sure that you are able to receive vital medical treatment in the case of an emergency. However, these schemes have limited cover which makes them unsuitable to replace a standard travel insurance policy.  

Unlike the EHIC/GHIC, travel insurance can help you cover extra costs associated with an emergency abroad, such as rescue services and repatriation back to the UK.  Travel insurance also gives you access to private healthcare and can costs associated with a hospital stay that might not be covered by your EHIC/GHIC. 

Travel insurance policies can also cover much more than just medical costs, such as lost passports, baggage, emergency accommodation, and travel disruption. So, even if you are travelling in countries that accept the GHIC/EHIC, it’s still worthwhile to consider the risks and take out insurance for European travel

Find great value travel insurance for European travel 

At MoneySuperMarket, we compare quotes from the leading UK travel insurance providers to help you find affordable and effective cover while travelling abroad. Policies can be tailored to your needs and the process is quick and easy to apply for cover.  

Get cheap travel insurance quotes with us today and see how much you could save on your next policy.

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