EHIC Card Breakdown

Each year, thousands of Brits apply for an EHIC card to take with them on holiday. But what exactly is an EHIC card and what does it do? For those of you who are going on holiday this year, here is a breakdown of what the card is all about.

“EHIC” stands for “European Health Insurance Card” and entitles you to state-provided health care, on the same basis as a citizen from the same country, in any European Economic Area country and Switzerland at a reduced cost and in some cases for free. So for example, a British citizen on holiday in Spain will have access to the same state-provided healthcare as a Spanish resident. The card is valid for five years and can be used while on holiday in any European Economic Area country or Switzerland and covers all necessary medical treatment until you return home from your holiday. The European Health Insurance Card can also cover treatment for pre-existing medical conditions and maternity care although this is nullified if the reason you are visiting the country is to specifically receive treatment or give birth.


The European Health Insurance Card itself is a small blue piece of plastic which displays specific information about the holder. Information shown on the European Health Insurance Card includes the owner’s name, date of birth, identification numbers and the card’s expiry date.

Residents of the United Kingdom can apply for their own European Health Insurance Card. Unlike the old E111 form, the European Health Insurance Card works on a one card per person basis. Therefore, each individual member of a family would require their own European Health Insurance Card.

European Health Insurance Cards are valid for five years. An existing European Health Insurance Card can be renewed up to six months before the expiry date.

You can apply for a European Health Insurance Card online. A single online application can be used to apply for a main applicant and his/her partner and up to four dependent children under the age of eighteen. The main applicant is required to input a number of different details to complete the application such as the forename and surname of each applicant, each applicants’ date of birth, a valid National Insurance Number (or alternatively a National Health Insurance Number), a correct United Kingdom home address, a contact number and e-mail address. Once the application has been approved, a confirmation e-mail will be sent out to the applicant informing them that the application being approved.

health insurance

Upon approval, each applicant receives one European Health Insurance Card each. The European Health Insurance Cards are sent out by post to the address submitted in the application and usually take between three to ten days to arrive by post.

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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