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The European Health Insurance Card

The European Health Insurance Card

The old E111, which entitled you to reduced-cost, sometimes free, medical treatment if you were taken ill or had an accident while travelling in Europe, has been replaced from 1st January, 2006 with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

So alongside your travel insurance it is advisable to have one of the new EHICs if you are travelling in the European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland. The card is valid in Austria, Belgium, Cyprus (but not Northern Cyprus), Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.

What is the European Health Insurance Card

The EHIC is normally valid for three to five years and covers any medical treatment that becomes necessary during your trip, because of either illness or an accident. The card gives access to state-provided medical treatment only, and you'll be treated on the same basis as an 'insured' person living in the country you're visiting. Remember, this might not cover all the things you'd expect to get free of charge from the NHS in the UK. You may have to make a contribution to the cost of your care.

The EHIC also covers any treatment you need for a chronic disease or pre-existing illness. You need to make arrangements in advance for kidney dialysis and oxygen therapy. To arrange for kidney dialysis while you're away, contact your NHS renal unit in the UK before you travel. For limited information on oxygen supply services in the EEA countries and Switzerland, call the Department of Health's Customer Service Centre on 020 7210 4850.

Remember that the EHIC won't cover you if getting medical treatment is the main purpose of your trip. You are advised to take out comprehensive private insurance for visits to all countries, regardless of whether you are covered by your EHIC.

The EHIC should cover pregnant women for routine maternity care while they are away. However, if you are going to an EEA country or Switzerland specifically to have your baby, you will need an E112 form - see the 'Non-emergency treatment section' for more information.

Who is eligible for an EHIC?

People who are ordinarily resident in the UK are entitled to a UK-issued EHIC. It is not valid for people who are going to live abroad. Each individual travelling requires a card. Residents of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not eligible. However, you must be over 16 years of age in order to apply. In order to apply ensure you have the NHS or National Insurance Number, Surname/Family Name, Forenames and Date of Birth of each applicant.

Will my partner and children need separate cards?
Yes. Every family member requires a card.

How long will a card last?
An EHIC will last from 3 to 5 years.

Can you still use and E111?
All E111s are no longer valid after 31st December 2005. You need to apply for an EHIC. It is easy to apply online for an EHIC.

Alternatively, you can apply:

  • by calling 0845 606 2030
  • by picking up an application form from the Post Office.

What happens if your personal details change?
If something changes, such as:

  • You get married, which results in a name change
  • You have a new addition to the family

Let the Department of Health know the details and if necessary it will issue a new card. You can contact its enquiry line on 0845 605 0707 or write to:
EHIC Enquiries
PO Box 1114
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE99 2TL

Is there any charge for an EHIC?
There is no charge.

Why do I need an EHIC if I have travel insurance?
The EHIC and holiday insurance are complementary and you are advised to have both. The EHIC does not cover some costs such as repatriation. Some insurance companies require you to have an EHIC and some companies will waive the excess charge if an EHIC has been used.

How can you claim a refund?
Should you be unfortunate enough to need treatment that becomes medically necessary during your visit, you should seek to claim reimbursement before you return. Visit for country-specific information regarding this, or pick up a copy of the Health Advice for Travellers booklet at the Post Office.

If you can’t claim while you are away you should contact the following upon your return to the UK:
The Department for Work & Pensions
International Pension Centre
Tyneview Park
Whitley Road
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE98 1BA.
Tel: 0191 218 7547 (Monday to Friday 08.00-20.00).

What does the EHIC cover?
The EHIC covers treatment provided by the state healthcare scheme in the country you are visiting. It does not cover repatriation costs. If you need more specific information about:

  • What treatment is covered
  • How much is covered
  • How to use card
  • How to get treatment abroad

Visit or pick up a copy of the ‘Health Advice for Travellers’ booklet at the Post Office.

What happens if you lose your card?

If you lose your card, call the EHIC Enquiries Line on 0845 605 0707. If calling from abroad +44 191 203 5555.
Alternatively write to us at:
EHIC Enquiries
PO Box 1114
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE99 2TL
Give your full name, UK address, Date of Birth and if known, your EHIC Personal Identification Number (PIN).

Remember you should also get travel insurance. Get a quote now.

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