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A guide to GHIC and EHIC cards

Posted 14/09/2021 : By: Jamie Titmarsh

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Whilst your travels will often go without a hitch, when preparing for your next international holiday it is important to make sure that you have registered for a GHIC card to ensure that you’re not left out of pocket should you require medical services whilst away.

A Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) is a free medical card that provides you with access to ‘necessary healthcare’ in EU countries, at the same price as citizens of that country, meaning that if they get free treatment, you will also benefit from this.

Necessary healthcare includes healthcare that can’t wait for you to return home such as emergency treatment, routine medical care for pre-existing conditions, oxygen, and kidney dialysis.

You may already have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which are now being phased out in favour of the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). If you’re a UK national living in the UK you can continue to use your EHIC card in the EU until it expires, even if that is years away. When the card does expire, you will then need to register for a GHIC card.

We’ve put together a useful guide below to help you understand more about registering for, and using your GHIC card when travelling.

Where can you use your card?

You can use a UK GHIC or existing EHIC while visiting:

  • an EU country
  • Switzerland (only UK nationals, Swiss nationals and EU citizens)

A UK GHIC may become valid in more countries in the future. Check this page before you travel.

You can only use a UK GHIC in Switzerland if you're a UK national, a Swiss national, a citizen of an EU Member State, a refugee, a stateless person, or a family member, dependant or survivor of someone who holds one of these nationalities or statuses.

You may be asked for proof of your nationality or your status when using your UK GHIC in Switzerland.

You can use a new UK EHIC (identifiable by a Union flag hologram in the top-right corner) while visiting:

  • an EU country
  • Norway
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Switzerland

The EU countries are:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

How do I apply for a card?

To apply for a free GHIC card simply visit the NHS website and have the following information to hand:

  • your full name
  • address
  • date of birth
  • National Insurance of NHS number (England and Wales)
  • CHI number (Scotland)
  • Health and Care number (Northern Ireland)

How do I use the card?

Both cards are very simple to use. All you have to do is present them before you have your treatment so remember to keep it with you at all times.

Note that both GHIC and EHIC cards can only be used for state-run medical treatment. If you end up in a private health centre or hospital you may have to pay to entire bill yourself, unless you’re covered for this by your travel insurance policy.

Do I still need travel insurance?

GHIC and EHIC cards only help you meet the cost of state-provided medical treatment meaning they will not pay costs for:

  • Any medical treatment at a private hospital or clinic
  • Repatriation to the UK
  • Rescue services
  • Cancelling or cutting short your holiday
  • Your luggage going missing or stolen
  • State-provided healthcare in non-EU countries such as the USA 

It is, therefore, a requirement of your booking with us that you have adequate travel insurance in place. We have partnered with Staysure the UK’s number 1 insurance provider to offer our guests an exclusive discount on a new single trip and annual multi-trip policies. For more information and details on how to get in touch with Staysure, please click here.

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