A new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) will gradually replace existing European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) the Government has announced.
Under Britain’s new agreement with the EU, UK residents’ rights to emergency and medically necessary healthcare will continue when travelling in the EU. This includes medically necessary treatment for a pre-existing or chronic condition.
Current EHIC’s are valid as long as they are in date and people can continue to use these when travelling to the EU.
The public only need to apply for their new GHIC when their current EHIC expires. Both cards will offer equivalent protection for emergency and medically necessary healthcare needs when in the EU on a temporary stay, which includes holiday, study and business travel.
The new GHIC card is free to obtain from the official GHIC website. People should apply at least two weeks before they plan to travel to ensure their card arrives on time.
If a UK resident is travelling without a card, they are still entitled to necessary healthcare and should contact the NHS Business Services Authority who can arrange for payment should they require treatment when abroad.
On a reciprocal basis EU member states EHICs will continue to be accepted by the NHS.
Alongside the deal with the EU, the UK is open to agreeing further international healthcare arrangements that can support UK residents when they travel.
The Government always advises that anyone travelling overseas, whether to the EU or elsewhere in the world, should take out comprehensive travel insurance.