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European Health Insurance Card

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which replaced the E111, is a personal card that gives the holder's entitlement to receive the same state healthcare as any citizen in that country, during their temporary stay in the European Union, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

The UK healthcare system will cover emergency care and the costs for treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care. You can see the treatments available in every country by visiting ehic.org.uk.

Treatment is free in some countries while in others you may have to pay what is known as a 'co-payment'. You may get a refund for this when you return home to the UK if one was not available abroad.

It is also important to know that a number of state hospitals in countries like Spain are refusing to accept the EHIC and ask for travel insurance or even credit card details to cover the costs of any treatment. This is being studied by the European Comission who may launch legal actions against Spain.


Do I need travel insurance if I have my EHIC?

The EHIC will not cover you for costs such as mountain rescue in ski resorts or repatriation to the UK if your illness or accident is very serious. This alone can cost tens of thousands of pounds. In the same way, the EHIC will not cover you for private healthcare, ambulance costs, doctors visits or other events that you may face when travelling abroad, such as cancellations, delays, lost luggage or even liability.

So while taking your EHIC abroad is highly recommendable, we strongly suggest that you are also covered with the right travel insurance policy, whether this is a single trip or an annual multi-trip policy.


How to get the EHIC

The EHIC card is completely free if you apply through ehic.org.uk, the government's own dedicated website.

Alternatively, you can call the NHS's on 0845 606 2030, a dedicated EHIC phone line.

Do not forget to make sure your EHIC hasn't expired. You need to renew it every five years.