Holiday healthcare – how to apply for the new GHIC healthcare card
The good news is that you can continue using your valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) until it expires.
British travellers have long benefited from free or very low-cost medical treatment in some other countries – especially across Europe. It was feared that Brexit would draw a line under this. But the UK and European Union agreed to continue offering “benefits in kind” to each other’s citizens if those benefits ‘become necessary on medical grounds during their stay’.
But remember, neither the EHIC or its replacement, the GHIC, replaces travel insurance healthcare cover. It just entitles you to free or reduced-cost state-provided healthcare where treatment becomes medically necessary during a temporary visit to the European Union (EU).
You can find out more on the GOV.UK foreign travel advice pages.
Your card gives you access to treatment at the same cost as residents of the country you are visiting. In some countries, state healthcare is not completely free to residents and you may have to pay a contribution towards the cost of your treatment. You will not be able to claim the money back for this contribution.
Who can apply for a GHIC
You can apply for a GHIC if your healthcare is paid for by the UK and you’re a UK or Irish citizen who lives in the UK.
You may still be eligible for a GHIC but should not apply through this portal if you are:
- a pensioner living in a different country to that which pays your State Pension
- a pensioner living in the UK and in receipt of a pension from an EU member state
- a student on a placement or studying in an EU/EEA country
- a student coming to study in the UK
- a worker posted abroad by your UK employer
- a person who lives in one country but works in another
- a person who lives in more than one country
- a person who works in more than one country
- a non-UK/Irish national who resides in the UK
You can also contact the NHS Overseas Healthcare Services team on 0191 218 1999 from the UK or +44 191 218 1999 if you’re abroad.
Who can apply for a new UK-issued EHIC
You do not need to apply for both an EHIC and a GHIC.
If you’re covered by the EU Withdrawal Agreement, you may be able to apply for a new UK-issued EHIC, for example if you’re:
- an EU, EEA or Swiss national living in the UK by 31 December 2020
- a UK national living in the EU by 31 December 2020 and the UK pays for your healthcare (for example because you have an S1 form)
- a UK student on a placement or studying in the EU by 31 December 2020
- someone who meets other criteria under the Withdrawal Agreement
Important: You do not need to apply for a GHIC if you have a valid EHIC which has not expired.
As GHIC is a new service, applications are being processed through the existing EHIC portal. This means that you may find references to EHIC during your application.
For security reasons, to use this website to apply for your GHIC you must have a user account. Use your existing EHIC account if you have one.
If you do not have an EHIC account, you must create one using your name and email address. You’ll also need to choose a password.
The person registering must be at least 16 years of age. As the main applicant, you can apply for a GHIC for yourself, your partner and any dependent children you have.
If you are under the age of 16, a parent or guardian will need to register as the main applicant. They must enter their details first and apply for any additional cards when prompted.
You can use the portal to order a new GHIC up to six months before the expiry of an existing card. You can also order a GHIC for your partner and any dependent children you have.
If you need a replacement GHIC because your card is lost, stolen or damaged, email [email protected].
How to register
Step 1 – Register to use the website by creating an account using your name and email address. You will also need to choose a password.
Step 2 – We will send you an email with a link to activate your account. Please remember to check your Junk folder as the email might be treated as spam by some providers. Click on the link in the email or copy and paste it into a browser.
Step 3 – Log into the portal using your email address and password once you have activated your account.
If you already have an activated EHIC account, you can continue to use this.