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European Health Insurance Card

About the EHIC

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows you to get state-provided healthcare in all European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland at a reduced cost or sometimes free of charge.

You can apply for the card free of charge on the official EHIC website (www.ehic.org.uk). Other unofficial websites may charge you if you apply through them.

The card is valid for up to five years. 

Even if you don't plan to travel in the near future, it's a good idea to get one. Find out how to renew or apply for a free EHIC

What’s covered?

Each country’s healthcare system is slightly different. Therefore, your EHIC might not cover everything that would be free on the NHS. However, you should be able to get the same treatment as a resident of the country you're visiting. 

In some countries, you may have to pay a patient contribution, also known as a co-payment. See our county-by-country guide for more information.

You may be able to get a refund for these payments when you're back in the UK if you could not do so in the country where you were treated.Tick icon

  • The EHIC will cover any medical treatment that becomes necessary during your trip, for example because of either illness or an accident.
  • The card gives access to reduced-cost or free medical treatment from state healthcare providers.
  • It includes treatment of a chronic or pre-existing medical condition that becomes necessary during your visit.
  • It includes routine maternity care (not only because of illness or accident), as long as you're not going abroad to give birth. However, where the birth happens unexpectedly, the card will cover the cost of all medical treatment for mother and baby that is linked to the birth.
  • The card covers the provision of oxygen and kidney dialysis. You will have to arrange and pre-book these treatments before you go on holiday. You can ask your GP or hospital for advice, but make sure you are not booked with a private healthcare provider as these are not covered by the EHIC.
  • The card also covers routine medical care for people with pre-existing conditions that need monitoring.

What's not covered?

The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, being flown back to the UK, or lost or stolen property. Therefore, it is important to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy. Some insurers now insist you hold an EHIC and many will waive the excess if you have one.Corss icon

  • The EHIC will not cover your medical expenses if you are going abroad specifically to have treatment (including giving birth). Find out more about planned treatment abroad.
  • You may not be able to use the card in some parts of the EEA as state-provided healthcare may not be available.  

Claiming refunds

Some European health systems expect you to pay your bill when you are treated and then claim a refund using your EHIC. Try to apply for your refund before you return home. Find out how to do this in the country-by-country guide.

If you need to make a claim once you return to the UK, call the Overseas Healthcare Team on 0191 218 1999 (Mondy to Friday, 8am–5pm). You will need your National Insurance number and UK bank or building society details to hand.

Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork (make copies if necessary). You or your insurance company may need them if you're applying for a refund or reimbursement.

Comments are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

NHS Business Services Authority said on 14 November 2011

Thanks to all for their comments. Unfortunately, we are unable to reply to individuals via this comments page.

However we can still help you if you have specific queries. The details you will need are below:

Apply for a free EHIC online at www.ehic.org.uk.

The EHIC is entirely free of charge. However, other unofficial websites may charge you if you apply through them.

If you're having difficulties with the online application form, you want to update your personal details or replace a lost or stolen card, call the automated EHIC application service on 0845 606 2030.

For general enquiries about the EHIC or to claim refunds, call the Overseas Healthcare Team on 0191 218 1999. If you're calling from abroad, ring +44 191 218 1999.

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NHS Business Services Authority said on 14 November 2011

It is great to see your comments on this page. Whilst we do not usually respond to comments raised on this comments board, if you have any questions we can still help.

If you have any questions, I hope the following information and contact details are useful...


Apply for a free EHIC online at www.ehic.org.uk.

The EHIC is entirely free of charge. However, other unofficial websites may charge you if you apply through them.

If you're having difficulties with the online application form, you want to update your personal details or replace a lost or stolen card, call the automated EHIC application service on 0845 606 2030.

For general enquiries about the EHIC or to claim refunds, call the Overseas Healthcare Team on 0191 218 1999. If you're calling from abroad, ring +44 191 218 1999.

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cg13 said on 04 November 2011

Can anyone advise me on my current situation.

I have been in Germany since April-May and since coming here have become pregnant and have been very sick with it needing to see doctors, midwife and an overnight stay in hospital. I do not consider myself to be living here permanently and up til now have had no problem using the EHIC. The problem now arises that the midwife has given me a bill saying she is not covered by the EHIC. As she is based at the doctors surgery and the information on your website says the EHIC covers all routine pregnancy care it never occurred to me that i might need to take out German health cover, and as i am not working here i have no funds to do this. My partner has looked into taking out insurance for me (i am now 6 months pregnant and plan to give birth here) but they want us to pay backdated to when i arrived in the country, which we simply cannot afford. I called the UK helpline to find out if they can write a letter confirming that i was covered by the EHIC since i arrived, but they say i possibly wasn't covered at all. My card is valid until 2013 and i do not qualify for the S1 or S2 certificates because i have been away from the UK traveling USA and Australia since 2009, and did not pay enough National Insurance that year.

I am very stressed as i do not know if or when i will receive bills for the other medical care i have received here since being pregnant, and have no way of paying them. I have had to cancel all future doctors appointments in fear or accruing more costs. It is not an option to return to UK at this stage as i have no way of supporting myself when i get back.

I find the information on the website quite vague and had not predicted any problem as i am only temporarily here. I would be grateful for any advice.

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AlbusDumbledore said on 05 October 2011

The European Health Insurance Cards are only issued to European Nationals resident in European Countries..

On the basis your resident in New Zealand which is not a European Country ... In my opinion you wouldnt be eligible for a EHIC renewal.

The UK and New Zealand have a reciprical agrrement so that may entitle you to a certain degree of treatment because the agreement basically means we look after their Nationals and they look after ours on holiday.

But if your in receipt of a UK state pension then i reccomend that you contact the Overseas Healthcare Team on 0044 191 218 1999

Although you may not be eligible for a card, you may, emphasising the word may be eligible to a degree of treatment being in receipt of a UK Pension. contac the number above and the may be able to advise you in more depth.

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willy250 said on 04 October 2011

I now live in New Zealand but am visiting uk and france very soon(14th October) -My ehic is expired, how do I get a new one at short notice ( I am a UK pensioner) can I renew it online-or how?

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AlbusDumbledore said on 15 September 2011

melaniean - Number 8 of your EHIC is just the Card Issue number of the card.

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babs1953 said on 14 September 2011

It may be a brilliant service but the site never seems to e up. I now fly tomorrow and still cant get my application resolved. Waited ages on the phone ....no reply ditto so not really a very useful service for me at all I am afraid.

Next time back to snail mail - seems we are going backwards not forwards NHS come on peeps get your act together you should have this totally automated by now

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melaniean said on 24 August 2011

I have just received my card. Could you explain what the 8 number identification numbers stand for at the bottom of the card?

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NHS Business Services Authority said on 12 August 2011

Thanks KatrinaUK for your comments.

For the benefit of all customers, to be certain of delivery we recommend you allow two weeks from ordering to delivery of your EHIC.

Should you need to go away before your EHIC arrives, you should not worry at all. Simply take the following number with you... +44 191 218 1999. Use it only if you require care covered by EHIC whilst abroad.

As we can't reply to individual comments here (I can't see the contact details of people who post comments), If you have any queries please e-mail ehicenquiries@ppa.nhs.uk. When contacting us by e-mail, please provide your full name and address, including your postcode. Alternatively, you can contact our enquiry line on 0845 605 0707.

Thanks to all for their comments.

Chris @ NHS Business Services Authority

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KatrinaUK said on 02 August 2011

After filling out the EHIC form, I never received a card. I then filled out EHIC'S 'Contact Us' form on the EHIC Website, but have received an unsatisfactory automated response saying...'Travelling Soon?
If your EHIC does not arrive before your departure and the need for treatment arises during your visit to an EEA member state or Switzerland, you can apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) from the Department of Work and Pensions on 0044 191 218 1999. '

'* You cannot apply for the PRC unless the need for treatment abroad arises.'
......

About 2 weeks ago I applied for an EHIC Card and I have not received it and I am travelling day after tomorrow. I contacted EHIC and told them I am dissatisfied with the above response which I received a few days ago. I would have preferred to have a card in hand if anything were to happen. I can appreciate they are very busy, but if they are so busy that they don't have time to send people their cards, then maybe they should put a message on their website that has a time scale of how far in advance you need to apply for an EHIC Card, to allow time for it to be processed (e.g. 3-6 months). Instead they have a message on the website saying "The quickest way to receive your EHIC, free of charge, is to apply on this website by clicking on the 'Apply Now' link below." The message is rather misleading... Since I wrote to them about my dissatisfaction, I have received no reply. What an appalling service.

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NHS Business Services Authority said on 02 August 2011

Thanks to all for their comments. Unfortunately, we are unable to reply to individuals via this comments page.

However we can still help you if you have specific queries. The details you will need are below:

For questions, on claiming back the cost of healthcare covered by EHIC, the contact details for the Overseas Healthcare Team are:

0191 218 1999 - The lines are open Monday to Friday 8am until 5pm
E Mail: overseas.healthcare@thepensionservice.gsi.gov.uk

If you're having difficulties with the online application form, to apply for a new or replacement EHIC, for help with a lost or stolen EHIC or to update your personal details, call 0845 606 2030.

Hope this helps.

Chris @ NHS Business Services Authority

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NHS Business Services Authority said on 01 August 2011

gjohnb - further to your comment (posted again below), please note www.ehic.org IS NOT the correct address. Please don't use this website.

You need to use www.ehic.org.uk

Hopefully you won't have the security certificate issues with our website but if you do, please let us know.

To all - please be careful which website you use. If there is a charge, it is not the official website. www.ehic.org.uk is the only official free website.

Chris @ NHS Business Services Authority









Original comment


Once I'd found the relevant website (www.ehic.org) and plucked up enough courage (foolhardy perhaps) to use this site even though it's security validation seems to be questionable, I was able to request renewal of our EHICs with no money changing hands! However, if this IS the official NHS site for renewal of an EHIC or requesting one from scratch, WHY is the security validation invalid?? It certainly puts one off using it.

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NHS Business Services Authority said on 27 July 2011

Thanks for your comments. I am not sure why some people are having a problem with the security validation so have asked our technical colleagues to provide some advice. I will post information back as soon as possible. In the meantime, if you're having difficulties with the online application form or to update your personal details, call the automated service on 0845 606 2030.

For general enquiries about the EHIC, to replace a lost or stolen card, or claim refunds, call the Overseas Healthcare Team on 0191 218 1999. If calling from abroad ring +44 191 218 1999.


Chris @ NHS Business Services Authority

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gjohnb said on 26 July 2011

Once I'd found the relevant website (www.ehic.org) and plucked up enough courage (foolhardy perhaps) to use this site even though it's security validation seems to be questionable, I was able to request renewal of our EHICs with no money changing hands! However, if this IS the official NHS site for renewal of an EHIC or requesting one from scratch, WHY is the security validation invalid?? It certainly puts one off using it.

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NHS Business Services Authority said on 26 July 2011

Morning all, you should not be getting asked for a username or password. Can I just confirm you are definitely on www.ehic.org.uk ?

I apologise as we did have 14 hours of downtime Thurs/Fri last week and I wonder if this is why you were getting asked for a username. That said, the website is now fully functional so you should be able to apply at www.ehic.org.uk

Chris @ NHS Business Services Authority

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fennon said on 22 July 2011

Why can't I get through to the website for a new EHIC? I have been trying now for 3 days and still can't get through! Also why isn't anybody answering all the above questions?

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KatLou31 said on 21 July 2011

When clicking on the link to apply for an EHIC I'm getting the message that this website has a problem with it's security certificate. I am also being asked for a username and password when trying to access it. I will have to phone in the morning as the telephone lines are now closed.

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tryweryn91 said on 21 July 2011

your site is continually blocked and crashing. Is this deliberate so the only way to renew your card is by paying the scammers or incompetence due to poor bandwidth? Please send me an email where I can contact you.

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roozle said on 21 July 2011

Why am I being asked for a username and password to get onto the EHIC application site?

I don't remember having to do this last time. where can I get a username and password??

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blackthornbabe said on 21 July 2011

I have just joined this site today - Does anyone know why there are no NHS answers to these questions displayed. I thought that was the point of it all!
And i'm interested in knowing the answers myself!
Maybe i'm missing a process on how to look at answers if it's something wrong with my PC -- after all - i've been trying for hours on two separate days to load up the EHIC application and the download paper copy and neither are working.

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suzirider said on 02 July 2011

No complaints here, found the registration process simple and quick. I tend to pay attention to what I'm doing and final check the details before I click the confirm button as instructed. With regards to renewal, i'll check this card as I do all important documentation before I travel. Considering this is a free service, I think people should expect to take the responsibility for filling out details correctly

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philgas said on 27 June 2011

Why do these cards have to have a sell by date? My NHS number is for life. Renewing EHIC causes unnecessary expense.

Also: There are companies on google posing as the NHS and charging £10-£15 or more to apply . Can't you get google to take them down?

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Little mama said on 14 February 2011

Just want to thank the team for such a fantastic service. Ordered cards Thursday received on following Monday. Thank you!

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Last reviewed: 11/08/2011

Next review due: 11/08/2013

Contacts

Apply for a free EHIC online at www.ehic.org.uk.

The EHIC is entirely free of charge. However, other unofficial websites may charge you if you apply through them.

If you're having difficulties with the online application form, you want to update your personal details or  replace a lost or stolen card, call the automated EHIC application service on 0845 606 2030.

For general enquiries about the EHIC or to claim refunds, call the Overseas Healthcare Team on 0191 218 1999. If you're calling from abroad, ring +44 191 218 1999.

EHIC: packing for your holiday

Be prepared for your holiday, and make sure you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). It costs nothing to apply for or renew an EHIC. For more information call the Overseas Healthcare Team on 0191 218 1999, or visit the website at www.ehic.org.uk.

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