European Health Insurance Card

July 8, 2016
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United Kingdom residents planning on travelling abroad this year can use a European Health Insurance Card to gain access to free medical care while travelling in Europe:

Holding an in date European Health Insurance Card gives United Kingdom residents access to state provided healthcare on the same basis as a resident of the same European country. For example, if the country provides free healthcare to its citizens, the holder of the European Health Insurance Card will also receive free healthcare. In countries where a small charge is applicable, the European Health Insurance Card holder would also be expected to pay this smaller fee.

The European Health Insurance Card is valid in all European Economic Area (EEA) countries. This includes all European Union countries, such as France, Spain, Germany and Italy plus the non-European Union countries of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

Any individual who is a United Kingdom resident of British, other European Union/European Economic Area or Swiss nationality can apply online by completing an online application form. Any individual who resides in either the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man are not eligible.

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When applying for a European Health Insurance Card online, you can apply on behalf of a partner and up to four dependent children under the age of eighteen. If you are applying for a European Health Insurance Card and are under the age of sixteen, you will need to get a parent or guardian to apply on your behalf. The online application process involves you inputting a number of different details. You would be required to input either a valid National Insurance Number or National Health Insurance Number as well as an address within the United Kingdom for the European Health Insurance Cards to be sent out to once the application has been approved. When your application has been verified and approved it should arrive by post in three to ten working days.

The European Health Insurance Card covers any medical treatment that becomes medically necessary during your holiday abroad in Europe. This includes treatment for pre-existing medical conditions and maternity care providing the sole reason for the visit to the country was not specifically to receive this kind of care. As explained previously, some countries would expect you to contribute a small charge not unlike what it would do for its own residents. Through the European Health Insurance Card, this fee would be refunded once you were back in the United Kingdom.


The European Health Insurance Card is valid for up to five years and can be renewed up to six months before its expiry date. The European Health Insurance Card is a direct replacement for the old E111 form and therefore the E111 can no longer be used to access state provided health care while abroad in Europe.

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