EHIC – European Health Insurance Card

EHIC covers basic healthcare on short trips around Europe and is available free of charge 

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC / formerly E111/ not EH1C) allows European Nationals in the European Economic Area (EEA) to obtain healthcare when travelling.  The healthcare may be at a reduced cost or in some cases for free.  The EHIC card is provided free of charge to United Kingdom residents. You will still be able to continue using your card in 2020, however negotiations are still ongoing regarding 2021.


The card provides free or reduced cost healthcare cover for short-term trips around Europe and Switzerland. It only covers the basic national healthcare as received by local residents of the country visited. This scheme will not cover those living permanently outside of the UK. It will cover the card holder in the EEA and Switzerland. The EHIC is valid for 5 years and only available to United Kingdom residents. The EHIC card does not replace the need for travel insurance.

One EHIC Card for each Family Member includes non-emergency care for existing/chronic conditions

Each member of a family will need a separate, individual insurance card – including all children.

Those travelling with a chronic health condition can also receive essential non-emergency care for the length of stay.  The care received will be the same as provided to locals of the country visited. Not all EEA countries provide completely free healthcare and some countries might still charge for healthcare at a reduced rate.

EHIC does not cover already planned treatment in home country

The card will not cover any treatment a patient is awaiting for in his or her own country, nor treatment that can wait until return home.

Travellers still need Travel Insurance

The EHIC will cover emergency treatment and support for chronic conditions. However it is essential that all travellers still obtain travel insurance as the EHIC card will not cover:

  • Transport home (repatriation) is not covered under this scheme
  • Expenses for relatives – such as accommodation costs are not covered
  • It will not cover loss of luggage or other personal items

It is also important to remember that any treatment provided will be the same as that received by locals, which can vary among EEA member states.

Applying for a Free European Health Insurance Card

You can apply for the EHIC free of charge via the NHS website . Note that some companies offering to do the application for an individual on-line will charge for this service.  To obtain the card for free you must access the service via the NHS website.You will need the following information in order to apply for a free EHIC:

  • Full name
  • Current Address
  • Date of birth
  • National Insurance or NHS number (England and Wales)
  • CHI number (Scotland)
  • Health and Care number (Northern Ireland)

Renewal of a European Health Insurance Card

The EHIC card is valid for 5 years.  It can be renewed free of charge on-line if your personal details have not changed.  A renewal can be made six months before the old card expires. More details about renewals, address changes, name changes and lost cards can be found on the NHS website

Brexit – What next for the EHIC?

Following the United Kingdom exit from the European Union it important to remember that the EHIC is still valid for 2020 during the transition period. However negotiations are still ongoing regarding 2021. Cards should still be renewed as normal when they expire.  Check your card expiry date.  Travellers to Europe can still renew cards using the NHS Website.  The service is free of charge – you do NOT have to pay to renew the card – please be aware that there are website charging for this service.  

Note: This information is designed to complement and not replace the relationship that exists with your existing family doctor or travel health professional.  Please discuss your travel health requirements with your regular family doctor or practice nurse.

Pre-travel Questionnaire

It is essential that you visit your NHS Practice or TravelHealth Clinic or Travel Health trained Pharmacist well in advance of travelling abroad. They will be able to advise you personally regarding vaccinations, malaria prevention and general health issues you should consider for your destination.

To help you have all the right information at hand, print off this form, complete the details, and take it along with you when you visit for your GP Surgery / Travel Clinic for your travel health consultation.

Pre-Travel Questionnaire


Malaria Lifecycle and How Malaria Spreads

The following pictorial diagram shows the lifecycle of the mosquito responsible for the spread of malaria. This diagram has been provided and reproduced with permission from GlaxoSmithKline.

malaria life cycle
Pictorial Diagram showing how Malaria spreads

Note: This information is designed to complement and not replace the relationship that exists with your existing family doctor or travel health professional.  Please discuss your travel health requirements with your regular family doctor or practice nurse.

Research References

The following sources have been useful in compiling the information for

Dawood R. Traveller’s Health 1999 3rd Edition, Oxford press, Oxford

HEA BCG Vaccine Sheet 1997 Department of Health, London

HEA Polio Vaccine Sheet 1997 Department of Health, London

HMSO Immunisation against Infectious Disease 1996, DOH London

Kassianos G. Immunisation – Childhood and Travel Health 1998 3rd Ed. London Blackwell Science

Walker E. Williams G. Raeside F. Calvert F. ABC of Travel Health 1997 5th Edition, Cambridge BMJ Publishing Group

Center for Disease Control (CDC)

Lancaster T. The Traveller’s Good Health Guide 1999 London, Sheldon Press

Martin J. Malaria Primary Health Care June Vol. 7 no.5 1997

Travel Health On line – Shorelands

Wilson E. Personal Risks for Foreign Travellers Practice Nurse May 1996

Bell D. Tropical Medicine 1995 4th edition, Oxford Blackwell Science

CDC Hepatitis Information

WHO Dengue Fever fact sheet

HMSO Immunisation against Infectious Disease 1996, DOH London

WHO International Travel health page

World Health Organisation

TravelHealth Books

General TravelHealth Recommendations

  1. Top Recommendation: Traveller’s Good Health Guide by Ted Lankester
  2. Travellers’ Health: How to Stay Healthy Abroad edited by Richard Dawood – The long awaited new edition of Travellers’ Health is now available full of information and help for the traveller
  3. How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art by Kathleen Meyer
  4. Bugs, Bites and Bowels (Cadogan Guides) by Jane Wilson-Howarth
  5. Rough Guide to Travel Health (Miniguides) by Nick Jones
  6. ABC of Healthy Travel (ABC) by Eric Walker

Destination Guide Recommendations

  1. The Rough Guide to Europe
  2. Central and South America (Lonely Planet Read This First) by Conner Gorry
  3. South East Asia (Lonely Planet Shoestring Guides) by Chris Rowthorne
  4. Australia (Eyewitness Travel Guides)

Travelling with Children

  1. Your Child’s Health Abroad: A Manual for Travelling Parents by Jane Wilson-Howarth
  2. Travel with Children (Lonely Planet Travel Guides) by Cathy Lanigan

Travel Planning Books

  1. The Rough Guide to Travel Online – 2nd Edition by Samantha Cook and Greg Ward
  2. The Gap Year Book: The Definitive Guide to Planning and Taking a Year Out (Lonely Planet Gap Year Guide) by Joe Bindloss and Charlotte Hindle (Paperback – 1 Jul 2005)

Books relating to Fear of Flying

  1. Ask the Pilot by Patrick Smith
  2. Flying Without Fear by Keith Godfrey
  3. Flying? No Fear! (Summersdale Self-help) by Akers Douglas

Business Travel

  1. Top Recommendation: The Survivor’s Guide to Business Travel (International Herald Tribune) by Roger Collis

Health Professional TravelHealth Material

  1. Top Recommendation: Travel Medicine and Migrant Health edited by Cameron Locke
  2. Immunization: Childhood and Traveller’s Health by George Kassianos

Considerations for Pre-Travel Gap Year Health

  1. Pre-Travel Gap Year Health – You’ve decided on a far flung destination – the first thing you need to do is make an appointment with your Travel Clinic, Pharmacist or Doctor for a Health Check. You will also need to consider what Vaccinations you will need for your trip
  2. Make sure you have the right travel insurance to cover your trip.  Good insurance will include cover for ALL of those activities you are going to take part in.  Check that everything you want to do is covered in the small print.  Sometimes you will need to pay for the extra cover to ensure you are covered for everything.
  3. Preventing Sexual Health problems can occur anywhere so best to be prepared
  4. Think through the Physical Hazards of your trip is essential to ensure you are prepared for all eventualities
  5. Retail Gap Year – Essential buys for the Gap Traveller
  6. Staying healthy through attention to Safe Food and Water
  7. Avoiding trips to the long drop – your guide to Travellers Diarrhoea
  8. Personal Safety and Security
  9. Preventing Malaria
  10. Be prepared for the Psychological issues related to travel

Pre-Travel Gap Year Health if you only have 5 minutes …?

Whether you are planning to travel the world for fun, or intending to work as a volunteer as part of an Aid Agency, you will need to take careful precautions to ensure your continuing health and safety.

Make sure you read our Gap Year Travel Health advice sheet


Note: This information is designed to complement and not replace the relationship that exists with your existing family doctor or travel health professional.  Please discuss your travel health requirements with your regular family doctor or practice nurse.