12 Jan 2021 by Olga Brighton
Whist the UK has now left the EU, Europe still remains the number one destination for Brits to holiday. So you may be wondering or worrying whether your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is still valid after BREXIT. We answer your top questions here.
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives EU citizens access to state medical care if you fall ill or have an accident while travelling in the EU. This included the UK up until 31st Dec 2020 under the BREXIT Transition arrangements. So what happens to UK citizens now under the EHIC system? Is EHIC still valid?
The deal between the UK and EU was announced on 24th December 2020. It confirmed that all EHIC cards issued to UK citizens before the end of 2020 will remain valid until their expiry date. This is reassuring news. Now further announcements have been made about its replacement.
The UK Government have issued a press release advising they have introduced a replacement for the EHIC, which is called the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). According to the Press Release, the new agreement “ensure the rights of UK residents to access emergency and medically necessary care when travelling in the EU will continue”.
The new GHIC can be obtained free on line from the official GHIC website. Be careful of unofficial sites that will charge you unnecessarily to obtain one. Your card should arrive through the post within 2 weeks. Current European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) are still valid for UK citizens as long as they are in date, and you can continue to use them when you travel within the EU.
You don't need to apply for a GHIC until your current EHIC expires.
Both EHIC and GHIC offer equivalent protection for emergency and medically necessary healthcare while in the EU temporarily. This includes holiday, studies and business travel.
Edward Argar, Minister for Health said: “Our deal with the EU ensures the right for our citizens to access necessary healthcare on their holidays and travels to countries in the EU will continue.The GHIC is a key element of the UK’s future relationship with the EU and will provide certainty and security for all UK residents”.
Definitely Not. We agree with FCDO advice that “Wherever you’re travelling, it's important to take out appropriate Travel Insurance before you go”. The EHIC or new GHIC does not replace Travel Insurance. It won’t cover repatriation costs, or additional support, like a doctor or nurse escort home. And it certainly won’t cover your accommodation costs, luggage replacement costs or replacement passport if they get lost or stolen! When travelling in the EU its best to have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), or Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) for UK residents AND Travel Insurance that meets your requirements.
EU healthcare systems and sometimes treatment availability and quality in some countries may vary and be limited and you may need to pay for certain aspects of it.
The good news is that a UK or EU resident travelling without a card is still entitled to necessary healthcare. Under the post BREXIT arrangements this includes UK residents, but you are best having a card and travel insurance to avoid administration delays, or paying up front for your treatment unnecessarily.
EU member states will continue to be accepted by the NHS for necessary treatment. You should still carry your EHIC card and obtain Travel Insurance.
Wherever you travel check FCDO travel advice
Read also: Travel Corridor Update