Your EHIC Card: All You Need to Know

Are you going anywhere exciting this summer? If you’re planning on checking out somewhere in Europe, then be sure to get EHIC savvy. Your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) should be a high priority on your packing list! Whether you’re flying round Finland or strolling around Spain, here at Holidays By Design we’ve compiled a list of all you need to know about your EHIC card and the security it provides.

What does my EHIC card entitle me to?

A valid EHIC card ensures that you can receive free or discounted medical treatment in state-run hospitals across any country within the European Union, as well as a few others. With an EHIC card, you’ll be given the same treatment as somebody who was local to the area - extremely useful in emergencies!

One thing to note is that an EHIC doesn’t entitle you to free treatment. Because you’ll get the same treatment as people from that country, if they pay, you’ll have to pay the same rates. Luckily travel insurance usually covers any treatments that require extra costs, and using an EHIC may mean you won’t need to pay the excess.


How long does an EHIC last?

EHICs are valid for up to five years, but you should ideally apply for a new one up to six months before your old card expires. Last year nearly 5.3 million EHIC cards expired - so be sure to check that yours is still in date. If not, there are easy ways to apply online through the official EHIC site to renew your card, or you can call 0300 330 1350. Avoid fake sites that try to charge you - this process is free to use so it’s always best to go directly through EHIC themselves!

But what about Brexit? Does this affect the validity of my EHIC card?

There’s no need to worry about the EHIC scheme just yet. Whilst EHIC is an agreement between EU countries, nothing is set to change regarding your card until Britain actually leaves the EU.

Do I still have to get travel insurance?

Yes. Whilst an EHIC card is very useful for medical cover, it isn’t a substitute for proper travel insurance which provides a much wider range of cover on your travels.

Do I always have to have my EHIC card on me whilst I travel?

Ideally, yes. You could be asked to pay for treatment upfront if you don’t have your card on your person - or else you might have the hassle of getting a Provisional Replacement Certificate sent from the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team to prove your right for free treatment. By carrying your card, you know that you’ll be covered.

Does my child need an EHIC card?

Yes. The age to apply for an EHIC is 16, but every family member still requires a card. For all those under 16, you’ll have to apply on their behalf.

There you have it - happy travelling!


For even more information about your EHIC, check out Martin Lewis’s page on for plenty of other great tips and advice.