Skip to content

Travel health and the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

With a little forward planning, you can protect your health when travelling and avoid unexpected medical bills. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is free and entitles you to free or reduced-cost treatment in certain European countries. Find out how to apply for or renew an EHIC.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

Your EHIC is valid throughout the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. The EEA consists of the European Union member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

You can apply for an EHIC online.

Alternatively, you can apply by phone on:

You can also apply by post using the application form at this link:

Applying for children and partner

You can apply on behalf of your partner and any of your children under 16 (or under 19 if they're in full-time education). Every family member requires an EHIC.

Boarding school teaching staff can also apply on behalf of any children in their care.

For each person you are applying for, you will have to provide their:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • National Insurance or Health and Care number (NHS number in England and Wales, CHI in Scotland)

Healthcare treatment

The EHIC enables you to access reduced-cost, sometimes free, state-provided healthcare that becomes necessary during your trip because of either illness or an accident. It also covers you for pre-existing conditions.

You can find full details of the cover and who is eligible at the following link:

Renewing an EHIC

EHICs are valid for up to five years. You should apply for a new one before its expiry date - you can apply up to six months before your old card expires. The easiest way to apply is online (using the green button above) if none of your personal details have changed, or by phone on:

You can find out more at the following link:

Replacing a lost or stolen EHIC

If you need to replace a lost or stolen EHIC, contact:

If the EHIC is lost or stolen while you're abroad, you can apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC). This will give you the same cover as an EHIC while you are abroad.

To get a PRC, call:

  • phone: +44 (0)191 218 1999 (Monday to Friday, 8.00 am to 5.00 pm)

Always store this number and take it with you when you travel abroad.

When applying for a PRC, you will need to give your:

  • name
  • address
  • date of birth
  • National Insurance or Health and Care number (NHS number in England and Wales, CHI in Scotland)

Before you travel

As well as getting an EHIC, there are things you can do before you go abroad to protect you and your family's health. Before travelling:

  • buy adequate and appropriate travel insurance
  • check the NHS Choices website for information about healthcare in the country you are going to
  • check the GOV.UK website for the latest medical advice for travellers
  • find out what vaccinations you need at least six weeks before you travel – your GP surgery will be able to tell you
  • take enough supplies of any medication that you have been prescribed and carry a copy of the prescription with you
  • carry any medical letters about your health condition to help doctors and nurses abroad if you are taken ill
  • Travel insurance
  • Travel insurance for people with disabilities

Travelling with children

Contact your GP, practice nurse or travel clinic for up-to-date information on any immunisations your child may need.

Claiming a refund using your EHIC

Some countries expect you to pay your health bill when you are treated and then claim a refund using your EHIC. You should always try to apply for your refund before you travel home.

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.

For details on how to claim a refund, see the information for the country you're visiting at the following link:

You can't claim refunds in the UK for patient contributions (co-payments) if you have received treatment abroad since 1 July 2014. More detailed information at the link below:

More useful links