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What is an EHIC and a GHIC?

The old UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) both offer healthcare cover outside the UK.

The EHIC is being phased out following Brexit. If you've used one before when on holiday, here's a handy guide to the differences between the 2 cards.

You might also want to read our tips on what you should add to your holiday checklist before you set off, including Travel Money with HSBC and thinking about travel insurance.

What an EHIC or GHIC covers

Both cards cover emergency medical treatment and visits to hospital A&E departments. It's worth remembering that they also cover routine medical care and treatment for pre-existing conditions. These are often excluded from travel insurance policies.

But you shouldn't think of an EHIC or GHIC as a replacement for travel insurance. That's because some health costs and things like being flown back to the UK aren't covered.

Bear in mind also that you can't use a GHIC or EHIC if you're travelling to the EU specifically to get treatment.

Differences between EHIC and GHIC

Both types of card allow you to get state healthcare in the EU at a reduced cost or even for free.

Before Brexit, an EHIC was also valid in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland. That has now changed, so you can only use a GHIC or existing EHIC in the EU. 

However, certain people who have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement can apply for a new UK EHIC. This card will cover Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland as well as the EU. Find out if you're eligible for a new UK EHIC.

Replacing your EHIC

If you already have an EHIC, check the expiry date on the card. It remains valid until then, but after that date, you’ll have to apply for a GHIC to replace it. Cards are valid for 5 years so you may have lots of time left before yours expires. 

It's free to apply for a GHIC - you can go to the NHS website to get yours

As well as your full name address and date of birth, you’ll need to give one of the following:

  • National Insurance or NHS number (England and Wales)
  • CHI number (Scotland)
  • Health and Care number (Northern Ireland)

There are websites which charge a fee, but there’s no need to pay anything. Just use the NHS website.