Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How does GHIC, the EHIC replacement EU travel insurance card, work?

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

Brexit spells the end of the European Health Insurance Card for UK citizens. It is being replaced by a new Global Health Insurance Card or GHIC.

The good news is that existing EHIC cards will continue to work until the expiry date shown on your card, even if that is many years away.

Moving forward, any new cards for UK citizens will be issued under the GHIC scheme. Any EU citizens living in the UK will have continued access to the EHIC scheme.

In this article we will look at how your health insurance coverage changes and how you can apply for the new GHIC.

What is the difference between EHIC and GHIC?

Not much, to be honest.

Within the EU, the EHIC card entitled you to medical treatment at state-run hospitals and surgeries at the same cost that locals were charged.

If locals had free healthcare then you would, too. All you had to do was flash your EHIC card.

The new GHIC provides exactly the same coverage. The only difference is the name and the fact that it no longer covers non-EU countries such as Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Iceland and Norway that were previously part of the EHIC scheme.

Ironically, despite being called the Global Health Insurance Card, it only covers EU countries.

Do I need to replace my EHIC?

You can continue using your EHIC card in the EU providing it is valid and in-date. You do not need to re-apply for a GHIC until your current card expires.

How do I get a GHIC?

Just like EHIC, the new Global Health Insurance Card is being administered by the NHS.

You can apply on this page of the NHS website.

Applying for a GHIC card is FREE. Do not apply via any other website as it is likely to be a scam, either by charging you for the card or for delivery or using your personal information for fraudulent purposes.

Do I still need travel insurance?

Carrying an GHIC or EHIC card is not an adequate replacement for comprehensive travel insurance. Your GHIC will only give you access to state-run health care. It does not cover holiday cancellation or curtailment, repatriation or other potential costs.

It is also important to remember that you only receive free care which is equivalent to what a local resident would receive. You may find that you need to pay for certain treatments which, had you needed the treatment in the UK, would have been free.

You should make sure you take out adequate travel insurance before travelling both inside and outside the EU.

Comments (17)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • HH says:

    To be clear, do I continue to be covered until my EHIC expires when travelling to non-EU countries such as Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Iceland and Norway that were previously part of the EHIC scheme but will not be covered by GHIC?

    • George K says:

      Apparently so

    • Sandgrounder says:

      No, it ceased to be valid on the 31st, or until the end of your stay if you were mid trip on that date. You can use your passport for emergency care in Norway. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/uk-residents-visiting-the-eueea-and-switzerland-healthcare
      Limited groups can apply for the new UK EHIC which includes cover in the EEA and Switzerland (eg dual UK EU nationals and their families)

      • RussellH says:

        I have read the info on that webpage several times and my understanding of the wording was that I should qualify for an EHIC.
        But when I tried the online checker, it said that I did not qualify.
        I have also had an e-mail from the Swiss Ambassador [in reality, presumably his PA] explaining the rules for Swiss/UK dual nationals from their point of view. It is even less clear than what is on gov.uk.

    • Rob says:

      No

  • Tony says:

    Neither card will cover Andorra.

    • Heathrow Flyer says:

      No huge loss. Went to Andorra in the summer. It’s basically a tacky shopping mall in the mountains.

      • Tony says:

        The drive from France to Spain is nice, and there are so so many filling stations. ( Cheaper than France, but only a few €c cheaper than Spain ) Just watch the customs on exit ( either side ) Been know to challenge 50kms away !

  • Bagoly says:

    The rebranding could be a complete political red herring.
    But the idea might be to get it accepted instead of passport etc by the territories listed at the bottom of https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/healthcare-when-travelling-abroad/travelling-outside-the-european-economic-area-eea/

    If looking quickly, do note that the first list of Barbados and the FSU ceased in 2016.

  • Stuart says:

    What about countries such as Australia? Has this been impacted? Or do you not need the global healthcare card and your passport will do? In which case why have a card at all for any country and just show your blue freshly stamped passport in any country?

    • Anna says:

      I don’t think EHIC was ever valid for Australia, presumably the current arrangement will continue.

  • David says:

    It may be worth adding to the section on travel insurance that some insurance providers would ask whether you had an EHIC (presumably ‘cos it’d affect their likely outlay for medical claims) so it’s probably worth getting a GHIC even if you will also be buying travel insurance.

  • Phillip says:

    Interestingly the @officialEHIC Twitter account is suspended and their mailbox is “is full and can’t accept messages now.”

  • Ben says:

    While handy to have. My first port of call abroad is still the provider recommended by the travel insurance. Even if that means paying an excess. This is literally the only area in my life where I am a bit of a snob!

  • Alan says:

    Haha still some card cards I see – I wonder if GHIC provides cover for RAS syndrome? 😂

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.