Has your EHIC expired?

If you are planning to take a trip overseas in Europe, have you checked that your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) is still valid? Travellers who are unaware that their EHIC has expired are putting themselves at risk when going on holiday this summer. As useful as the EHIC is, it does not cover you for every eventuality, so you should always take out travel insurance when heading abroad.

What does the EHIC do?The EHIC entitles the cardholder to reduced cost or free healthcare in most European Union countries including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland if they fall ill or have an accident whilst abroad – but only if it is in date!

When should you renew your EHIC?
Your EHIC expiry date can be found printed on the front of your card. It is very easy to renew online or over the phone and can be done up to six months in advance of expiry. You will need your EHIC Personal Identification Number (PIN) when renewing (this number is shown on your existing card beside your date of birth and begins with the letters ‘UK’).

Do you need a replacement EHIC?
If you change your name due to marriage or divorce, or if you lose or have your EHIC stolen within the UK, then you need to apply for a replacement EHIC. If your EHIC is lost or stolen abroad then you will need to apply for a replacement when you return home. If you require healthcare whilst you are abroad and have lost or had your EHIC stolen, then you will need to contact the Department for Work and Pensions in the UK and obtain a EHIC Provisional Replacement Certificate – which will provide you with the same cover as the EHIC until you return home. Failure to get the EHIC Provisional Replacement Certificate may result in you having to pay for medical treatment yourself.

How to apply/renew your EHIC:
To apply for an EHIC you will need to provide your name, date of birth and NHS or National Insurance number. In Scotland the NHS number is known as the Community Health Index or CHI number and in Northern Ireland it is known as the Health and Care number.

You are also able to apply for an EHIC for your partner and any children up to the age of 16 (or 19 if they are in full-time education). You must be over 16 to apply as a main applicant.

Applying for the card is free and it’s valid for up to five years. All British travellers can renew or obtain an EHIC by:

  • going online, at the following address www.dh.gov.uk/travellers (delivery within 7 days)
  • telephone, on 0845 606 2030 (delivery within 10 days)
  • post (delivery within 21 days)

Travel insurance is a must!
Remember the EHIC is NOT a substitute for travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or the cost of things such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, repatriation to the UK or lost or stolen property. You should take out adequate travel insurance for visits to all countries, regardless of whether you are covered by your EHIC.

Buying direct from the travel insurance provider is normally cheaper than from your travel agent, so check out 24/7 travel insurance for great value and peace of mind. A 3-day break in Europe will cost you only £5.32* – a small price to pay so you can enjoy your holiday even more!
*Premium £5.32 includes Insurance Premium Tax based on an adult aged under 55 taking out a “Standard” Single-trip 24/7 travel insurance policy for 3-days in Europe excluding personal possessions cover and purchased within 14 days of departure date. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press (March 2010) and are subject to change.