EHIC (European Health Insurance Card)
Apply and renew your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card), formerly E111
In 2006 the E111 was replaced with the new EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). This entitles card holders to free or reduced cost healthcare throughout Europe. You will need to renew your E111 card in place for a valid up-to-date EHIC but please make sure you check which EHIC rules apply in the European Countries you plan to visit.
Who needs to apply for an EHIC?
EHIC – the European Heath Insurance Card – replaced the E111 in 2005 and is a reciprocal health agreement between the various countries which make up the European Economic Area. The EHIC allows a holder to renew and access government-provided healthcare across Europe on the same basis as residents of the country concerned. That doesn’t mean UK residents get free healthcare in Europe as the system varies by country, and you can check online to see how healthcare works in the country you are thinking about visiting. But who is entitled to an EHIC, and who should apply for a renewal?
In order to apply to have an EHIC card issued in the UK, you have to be a UK, European Economic Area or Swiss citizen. You also have to be resident in the UK, with a permanent UK address. If you were, for example, a French student working for the summer in the UK, you would have to apply or renew your EHIC with the French authorities. Citizens of countries outwith the EEA, even if they are resident in the UK, are not eligible for EHIC cover and will have to make alternative arrangements for their health cover while overseas. If you move overseas, your resident status changes, or start to work abroad, you may lose your entitlement to EHIC. There are also different rules which apply to students studying at Universities overseas, workers sent overseas by their employers and pensioners who have emigrated from the UK to the sun. If you fall into one of these categories, seek further advice for renewal information.
Applying & Renewals
Unlike the old E111 form which covered the whole family, each member of the family needs a separate EHIC card. This gets around the problem of having one document, a parent needing it to take on a business trip at the same time as one of the children are going on a school trip. Adults can apply and renew their own EHIC cover, but parents or guardians have to apply on behalf of any children under the age of 16. There is a short turnaround time for processing EHIC applications, so make sure you get online and fill the forms in well before travelling.
Should everyone get an EHIC?
EHIC doesn’t replace travel insurance, shouldn’t be used instead of travel insurance, but can be very easily used alongside travel insurance policies. Indeed, many insurers are now requiring that people travelling to Europe have EHIC cover as a condition of cover. Applying for an EHIC involves minimal effort, and once you have your card, it is valid for five years. Nobody likes to think about getting ill or having an accident on holiday, but having an EHIC card can save a great deal of money, but also a great deal of time and effort in dealing with insurance companies to try to reclaim money paid for treatment. So the short answer is yes – if you are planning on travelling to Europe for short periods on business or holiday in the next five years, apply for your EHIC and take it with you.
The EHIC is valid in the following countries:
Important: EHIC Direct is not connected to or affiliated with the Department of Health, the National Health Service, or any other official Government body.
EHIC Direct charge a service fee of £34.50 per application which includes the main applicant, spouse and up to 10 dependent children. EHIC Direct provide an audit and submission service for European Health Insurance Card applications, along with an iPhone app on which to store your EHIC details, a 5 year reminder service when your card is due for renewal and a friendly team of customer service agents to answer any queries you have in relation to your application with EHIC Direct.
Please note that you can apply independently and at no cost by visiting the official NHSBSA website or through the automated EHIC application service on 0300 330 1350. Please read our Terms of Service before using this website.
Online - The best way to apply is online from NHS Business Services. Our site is independent of the NHS Business Services and it is available 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year, at a cost of £34.50 per application (Up to 2 adults and 3 children). Standard applications are normally processed and delivered by the NHS within 7-10 working days.
By Telephone - You can telephone the NHS Business Services Authority EHIC Application Line on 0300 330 1350. Making an application by phone is free of charge, but you will have to pay for the cost of the call. Your application should be processed within 7-10 working days.
At the Post Office - The Post Office Check & Send Service is available from participating Post Office Counter at a cost of £2 per application - these should be processed within 21 days.
Please remember that an EHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance. We strongly recommend that independent travel insurance is sought for you and your entire party prior to travelling throughout the EU. Some countries may require you to subsidize part or all of your treatment covered under the scheme. We recommend that you check thoroughly with the relevant authorities for the countries in which you plan to visit during your trip.
Cover includes treatment for existing medical conditions including child birth and routine maternity care. Any specialist treatment for example, kidney authorities, will need to be arranged with a hospital near to your destination prior to travel. Cover is not guaranteed and we do recommend that you check with the travel auhorities prior to your trip to ensure that the EU countries through which you wish to travel are not experiencing any disputes. Cover is adhered to throughout all EU countries including Switzerland.
Another point to note is that you can apply on behalf of your children providing that they are under the age of 19 and in full time education. If your child/chidlren are not in full time education and are over the age of 16 then they will need to apply independently. Spouses can be added to any submission with or without children.
By using our service we will:
1. Review and process your application
2. Check and audit your details in order to avoid common submission errors
3. Contact you in the case of insufficient or incorrect information
4. Remind you to renew your card before it expires (optional)
Should you experience any difficulties whilst using our website please do call or email us and we will be only too happy to assist you further. Occasional updates to browsers may cause temporary glitches in the submission process. To report a bug please call 0300 330 1350.
Applying for an EHIC is free of charge via the NHS.
You can apply through the NHSBSA website here.
It’s also possible to apply by phoning the automated service on: 0300 330 1350
Another way to apply is to download an application form (PDF, 122kb) and return it to the NHS Business Services Authority, which processes all applications.
NHS Business Services Authority, European Health Insurance Card, EHIC Applications, Sandyford House, Archbold Terrace, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 1BF
The following details will be necessary in order to complete your application:
• full name
• date of birth
• National Insurance or NHS number (CHI number in Scotland or Health and Care Number in Northern Ireland)
Please note that temporary National Insurance numbers aren’t valid. Temporary National Insurance numbers uses the prefix 'TN', the date of birth and M or F to denote gender (for example TN131160M). These numbers are no longer accepted and cannot be used to apply for your card.