A Brief Guide to EHIC (European Health Insurance Card)

Generally speaking, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will cover you for three to five years for state-provided medical treatment you require when you travel due to accident or illness. If that becomes necessary, you will be in the same category as someone who resides in that county and is “insured.” Note, however, this does not mean that you will be covered for all the medical treatment you are entitled to from the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom (UK), and a co-payment may also be required.

What you should know

You can receive your card, which is free of charge, from the Prescription Pricing Authority (PPA). Your EHIC card will not cover you if your main intention in travelling is to receive medical treatment, including giving birth. In addition, it is best to purchase comprehensive private insurance whenever you travel outside the UK, whether you have an EHIC or not. You can find a range of plans here.

Remember that the card will cover you for free or reduced cost medical treatment that you receive from state healthcare providers.

However, you may be visiting an area where state-provided healthcare is unavailable. In addition, in cases where you have had to make a co-payment on your trip, you can request reimbursement for that expense after returning to the UK.

The following services are covered if they become medically necessary while you are travelling abroad:

  • treatment of a pre-existing or chronic medical condition,
  • routine maternity care only, and
  • routine medical care, renal dialysis, and the provision of oxygen.

These services will not be covered by your EHIC:

  • medical treatment not provided by the state healthcare system and private healthcare fees, and
  • any expenses related to returning to the UK.

If you reside in the UK, you will be able to receive medically necessary treatment for free or at reduced cost. This applies when you travel to a European Union (EU) country, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, or Liechtenstein. As mentioned above, only medical treatment that is part of the state plan is covered, and you must remember to take your EHIC card with you when you travel. Note that the card is not valid anyone who plans on living abroad.

Dependents of European Economic Area (EEA) nationals who reside in the UK are covered by the card in every EEA country, regardless of what their country of origin may be.

Requirements for obtaining an EHIC

To be the main applicant for this card, you must be over the age of 16. When you take that step, be prepared to provide the following information for every applicant: name and date of birth and NHS or National Insurance (NI) number.

In this capacity, you can request an EHIC for you spouse or children under the age of 16, or 19 for full-time students, when you apply for your own. If you are a guardian or foster parent, or on the staff of a boarding school, you may apply for any of the children who are under your care for whom you are responsible.

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