Travel health and getting healthcare in Europe

With a little forward planning, you can protect your health when travelling to Europe and avoid unexpected medical bills. Your existing European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or a new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in the EU.

Travel insurance

An EHIC or GHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance - make sure you have both before you travel.

If you have a pre-existing medical conditions, you should make the insurance company aware so that you are adequately covered.

You can get advice about travel insurance at this link:

UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) 

You can find out more about the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), including how to apply for one, at this link:

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

The UK has reached an agreement on healthcare when visiting the EU.

You can continue to use a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or get a provisional replacement certificate (PRC) if you need treatment and do not have a card.

If you apply for a card now, you'll get a new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) instead of an EHIC. 

You do not need to apply for a GHIC if you already have an EHIC. Your EHIC remains valid in the EU until it expires.

New UK EHIC

Some people can apply for a new UK EHIC that they can use in EU countries, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

People who can apply for the new card include:

  • nationals from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein who started living in the UK before 1 January 2021 and their families
  • some British state pensioners who started living in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein before 1 January 2021 and their families
  • UK students who started living and studying in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein before 1 January 2021

You can find out more at this link:

Travelling to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein 

If you're travelling to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you should get appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before you travel.

Make sure it covers any pre-existing conditions that were previously covered by your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

In Norway you can use a UK passport to get medically necessary healthcare (for example emergency treatment or to treat a pre-existing condition).

You can find out more at this link:

Before you travel

There are things you can do before you go abroad to protect you and your family's health. Before travelling:

  • buy adequate travel insurance for your specific circumstances
  • check 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

Travelling with children

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

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