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:

The form should be posted to:

NHS Business Services Authority
European Health Insurance Card
EHIC applications
Bridge House
152 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle Upon Tyne
NE1 6SN

Applying for children and partner

You can apply on behalf of your partner and any of your children under 16. 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:

Not covered by EHIC

The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs, such as:

  • mountain rescue in ski resorts
  • being flown back to the UK
  • lost or stolen property

This makes it important to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy.

The EHIC will not cover your medical expenses if you are going abroad specifically to have treatment (including giving birth). 

You may not be able to use the card in some parts of the EEA, as state-provided healthcare may not be available.

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 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). Someone else can also do this on your behalf.  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)

It's a good idea to store this number and take it with you when you travel abroad.

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

  • full name
  • UK address
  • date of birth
  • your EHIC personal identification number (PIN), if you know it.

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 online 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

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 afterwards 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.

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

Some countries also ask patients to pay contributions towards the costs of their care, such as for prescription costs, also known as a co-payment. This means that if you're visiting another EEA country where co-payments are needed, you will also need to pay for this.

This is often non-refundable in that country and since July 1 2014 is also non-refundable in the UK. However, you may still be able to claim reimbursements for any co-payments made before July 1 2014. 

For further advice, contact the Overseas Healthcare Team at the Department of Work and Pensions:

  • phone: 0191 218 1999 (Monday to Friday, 8.00 am to 5.00 pm)
Overseas Healthcare Team
Room MO401
Durham House
Washington 
Tyne & Wear
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE38 7SF

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