European health Insurance Card (EHIC)

The EHIC allows you to get emergency or state-funded healthcare in some countries for free or at a reduced cost.

You must be a UK resident. This means you normally live in the UK. You do not need to have British nationality to be a UK resident.

The EHIC covers the European Economic Area (the countries of the European Union and Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland. It does not include Turkey. EHIC cards do not cover the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. They also do not cover cruises.

The EHIC is an arrangement between governments, not a policy with an insurer. This means it only covers healthcare provided by the government of the country you are in. It does not cover private healthcare or the cost of getting you back to the UK if you are ill.

Some countries expect you to pay your bill when you are treated. You can then claim a refund with your EHIC. You should try to apply for a refund before you return to the UK.

There are no exclusions for pre-existing medical conditions. But the EHIC does not cover:

  • ambulances (this depends on which country you are in)
  • getting you back to the UK
  • non-medical things such as personal liability, trip cancellation or baggage cover.

Some travel insurers say that you must carry your EHIC with you. This is so your insurance gives extra cover on top of the emergency cover provided by the EHIC.

The EHIC does not replace travel insurance. This means it is important to have an EHIC and the right kind of travel insurance before you travel.

How to apply

An EHIC is free. You can apply online at or call 0300 330 1350. Your card will normally arrive within 7 days.

Be careful not to apply through unofficial websites. These may charge you to order an EHIC.

An EHIC lasts for up to 5 years. You will need to make sure you renew your card in time for any trips.

You can find more information about the EHIC and health advice for travellers online. Visit:

We have more information on the EHIC and getting healthcare abroad.

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