European Health Insurance Card

Learn about the EHIC and apply or renew now

Please note: following the results of the EU referendum, no changes have yet been announced to the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) service. The NHS Business Services Authority is continuing to provide the EHIC service as usual, and you can apply for and use your card as before.

The EHIC is free of charge and you can apply or renew a card via the official EHIC online application form. Beware of unofficial websites, which may charge if you apply through them.

An EHIC will enable you to access state-provided healthcare in European Economic Area (EEA) countries, including Switzerland, at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free. It will cover your treatment until you return to the UK. It also covers treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care, providing the reason for your visit is not specifically to give birth. For more information about what is covered in each country, see our country-by-country guide.

The card 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 that you hold an EHIC, and many will waive the excess if you have one.

If you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment, please read our section on seeking medical treatment in Europe. 

How to apply for an EHIC?

The main applicant for the EHIC must be ordinarily resident in the UK, and of British, other EU/EEA or Swiss nationality, to be eligible for the card. Providing a National Insurance (NI) or NHS number, for example, helps to prove that applicants are entitled to hold an EHIC.

Residents of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not eligible for an EHIC.

If you are living in another EEA country and you receive a UK State Pension, or any other benefit that can be paid to you when you move abroad (exportable benefit), you may be entitled to a UK-issued EHIC. For more information, read our page on EHIC for pensioners and early retirees.

You can apply online for an EHIC, which is free of charge. You can also apply by phoning the automated service on 0300 3301350, or you can download the EHIC application form and return it to the NHS Business Services Authority (see address below).

Tip: Every family member requires an EHIC. If you are the main applicant, you can apply for yourself, or on behalf of your partner and any dependent children that are in full-time education and under the age of 19. If you already have an EHIC, you must enter your own details first and apply for any additional cards when prompted.

If you are under the age of 16, a parent or guardian will need to apply for you. Boarding school teaching staff can apply on behalf of any children in their care.

Each person you apply for will need to give their:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • NI or NHS number (CHI number in Scotland, or Health and Care Number in Northern Ireland)

However, temporary NI numbers are not valid. A temporary NI number uses the prefix "TN", the person's date of birth and "M" or "F" to denote gender (for example, TN131160M). These are no longer accepted and cannot be used to apply for an EHIC.

Your card will normally arrive within seven days if you apply using the official process.

If you are the main applicant, but your nationality is not one of those mentioned above, you will have to provide evidence that you are eligible. You will need to complete an EHIC application form attach a copy of your visa or Home Office letter and post it to:

NHS Business Services Authority
European Health Insurance Card
EHIC applications
Bridge House
152 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle Upon Tyne
NE1 6SN

How do I renew my or my family's EHIC?

The EHIC is valid for up to five years. Check that your EHIC is still valid before you travel. You can renew an EHIC up to six months before the expiry date. However, any time left on the card will not be added to your new card.

Renewing your card is free and you can do it online if none of your personal details have changed.

Families: If you need to renew some but not all EHIC cards in your family, please enter details of all family members, including those who still have valid cards. This will ensure that details of all members of the family remain linked. A warning message will be displayed for those whose cards cannot be renewed, and only those cards that have expired or are due to expire will be renewed this time.

If you need to amend your personal details, you can only renew your card online if you have your PIN (personal identification number), which is on your EHIC card. The PIN begins with "UK" (for example, UK123456), and is found on the same line as your date of birth. It is a good reference number to have at hand, and makes it easier for the EHIC team to find your details on the system.

Tip: If some of your details have changed since your card was issued but you don’t have your PIN, you may not be able to renew your card online. Please read the following guidance:

None of my details have changed 
You can renew your card online. Please enter all of your details.

My name has changed
You cannot renew online. Please contact our application line on 0300 3301350 to renew your card. (You can renew online if you have your PIN).

My address has changed
If none of your other details have changed, or if you have previously informed the EHIC team of your change of address, you can renew online. Enter your new address in the address field. Your renewed card(s) will be sent to this address.

If you are unsure whether you have informed the EHIC team of any changes, or if there have been any other changes to your details, please contact the enquiry line on 0300 3301350. Alternatively, you can email nhsbsa.ehicenquiries@nhsbsa.nhs.uk or write to: EHIC Enquiries, PO Box 1114, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE99 2TL, providing your full name, UK address, date of birth and, if known, your PIN.

What is and isn't covered by the EHIC?

Each country's health system is different, and might not include all the things you would expect to get free of charge from the NHS. This means you may have to make a patient contribution to the cost of your care. For more information, see our county-by-country guide.

New EHIC rules mean you will no longer be able to claim refunds for patient contributions (co-payments) in the UK for treatment received after July 1 2014.

  • The EHIC will cover any medical treatment that becomes necessary during your trip, such as an illness or accident.

Tip: In an emergency, you can dial the European emergency number 112 from any telephone or mobile phone.

 

  • The card gives access to reduced-cost or free medical treatment from state healthcare providers. This 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 an accident), as long as you're not going abroad to give birth. However, if 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, although 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.

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.

The EHIC will not cover your medical expenses if you are going abroad specifically to have treatment (including giving birth). Read 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.

Am I covered abroad even if I do not have my card with me?

If you made your application over the phone or online, you are covered for travel from the date of application.

If you travel and do not have your card with you, and treatment becomes medically necessary during your visit, you may be issued with a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) to prove your entitlement to the EHIC. This will be sent directly to the place of treatment.

To apply, call the Overseas Healthcare Team on 00 44 191 218 1999 (Monday to Friday, 8am–5pm). It's a good idea to save this number in your phone.

To get a PRC, you will need to provide your name, address, date of birth and NI or NHS number (CHI number in Scotland, or Health and Care Number in Northern Ireland).

What happens if my card is lost or stolen?

If you need to replace a lost EHIC, call 0300 3301350. Alternatively, you can email nhsbsa.ehicenquiries@nhsbsa.nhs.uk or write to EHIC Enquiries, PO Box 1114, Newcastle upon Tyne NE99 2TL providing your full name, UK address, date of birth and, if known, your EHIC Personal Identification Number (PIN).

If your EHIC is lost or stolen while you are abroad, you or someone on your behalf should apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC). This will give you the same cover as an EHIC until you return home.

To apply, call the Overseas Healthcare Team on 00 44 191 218 1999 (Monday to Friday, 8am–5pm). It's a good idea to save this number in your phone.

To get a PRC, you will need to provide your name, address, date of birth and National Insurance or NHS number (CHI number in Scotland or Health and Care Number in Northern Ireland).

Can I claim a refund?

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.

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.

You will no longer be able to claim refunds in the UK for patient contributions (co-payments) in the UK for treatment received abroad after July 1 2014. Read our page on new EHIC rules for more detailed information.


Last Updated: 01/04/2017 09:00:00