The EHIC and GHIC Explained

Now that a new deal with the EU is in place, we're all aware that some things will change. One of the key changes is that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is being replaced with the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) for all EU countries. So, when you are next planning a trip to Europe, make sure you have your EHIC or GHIC in place as well as your travel insurance.

The GHIC Card, what is it?

GHIC is a free card that allows free or reduced-cost state medical care during a temporary stay in the European Union (EU).

The GHIC provides cover for fewer countries than the previous EHIC, there are currently 4 countries that will not accept the new GHIC; Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland. These countries were previously covered with the EHIC. If you are visiting these countries, make sure you have appropriate travel insurance in place to cover your healthcare and pre-existing conditions.

If you already have a EHIC card that is still in date then you don't need to do anything. If you do not have an EHIC card or your current card has expired, then you'll need to apply for your new GHIC card.

How do I get a new GHIC card?

To get your new GHIC card please visit the NHS website.

Do children need one?

Yes, each member of the family will need their own EHIC or GHIC if they are travelling to Europe. If a child is under 16, their parent or guardian can apply for a card for them.

Do I still need travel insurance if I've got a GHIC?

The UK government still recommends that you have travel insurance in place as well as your GHIC or EHIC card. Not all medical costs are covered by the GHIC card when going abroad to Europe.

A travel insurance policy is especially important if you live with pre-existing medical conditions because it can give you the help you need if something goes wrong on your trip.

The GHIC can only provide cover for “necessary healthcare” from state services. Some EU countries don't have to provide free medical care similar to the NHS, so you might only be able to access private treatment while abroad and without travel insurance, you'd have to pay for this.