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.