European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

26/04/2013 -- Admin
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EHIC for free (or reduced cost) medical treatment in the EU

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) replaced the old E111 form in 2006 and is available free from the NHS.


What is the EHIC?

The European Health Insurance Card or EU Medical Card is a small plastic ID with details of name, date of birth, NHS and National Insurance numbers.

Valid for 5 years it entitles you to free/discounted public healthcare in European Economic Area (EEA) countries plus others. See country-by-country checklist.

Only state-provided treatment available so you get the same health service as residents of the country you're visiting.

It may not include all the things you'd get free on the NHS.

What the EHIC doesn’t do

The EHIC Card form is NOT a substitute for comprehensive travel health insurance.

If you and your family are in a car crash in France, say, it won't cover you for repatriation (return) to your place of departure ie home, for treatment at a local hospital.

Or provide compensation if you have to cancel your holiday or lose luggage.

Or pay for returning your body home if you die abroad.

Comprehensive travel health insurance provides financial protection for these types of holiday horrors.


Only people who are normally resident in the UK, and are of British, other EU/EEA or Swiss nationality, can apply for an EHIC.

If your nationality isn’t mentioned above you must provide evidence of UK residency, eg visa, letter from Home Office/employer. You can’t apply online so complete the EHIC application form (PDF, 122kb) and post to NHS Business Services Authority above.

Residents of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man aren’t eligible for an EU card.

You must be over 16 years of age to apply yourself.

Pre-existing medical conditions

Use your EHIC card if you take a bad turn because of a chronic/pre-existing medical condition, eg heart disease, high blood pressure.

Routine medical care for conditions that need monitoring eg diabetes, pregnancy are covered too.

If you’re likely to need oxygen and kidney dialysis on holiday, you must pre-book treatment before you go.

Ask your GP/specialist for advice.  Don’t book with a private healthcare provider - not covered by the EHIC.