Global Health Insurance Card
Don't Travel Without One
Published - 20/12/2021
The European Health Insurance Card or better known as the “EHIC” was a necessity when travelling around the EU. But prior to Brexit, the news was, that this would no longer be available to all UK citizens after Britain left the EU.
However, as part of the Brexit agreement with the EU, any valid EHIC card can be used in the EU by UK citizens till it expires.
A new agreement launched with the UK and EU means that UK citizens can now apply for a Global Health Insurance Card - GHIC. This works pretty much the same way as the EHIC, where UK citizens will be entitled to emergency and medically necessary healthcare when travelling in the EU.
If you still have your EHIC card it will still be valid until it expires, then you can apply for the new GHIC card. You can apply for your new GHIC card up to six months before your old card expires. See below for the link to apply for a new card.
So, what is a Global Health Insurance Card for?
The GHIC is a health insurance membership card issued by the NHS that gives you access to state-provided healthcare (including emergency treatment) that is medically necessary while travelling in the EU.
It also means if you need routine or specialist treatment, or the monitoring of pre-existing conditions, maternity and repeat prescriptions they may all be covered on the GHIC. However, it is the healthcare provider who determines whether the treatment is necessary. Remember that the GHIC is only accepted in public hospitals or health centres and does not include any private healthcare options you may wish to use. Any private healthcare contract you enter into will not be covered by GHIC.
Which Countries can the GHIC be used in?
The GHIC may be used across the EU and Switzerland. Government have said more countries are likely to be added in due course.
However - The new Global Health Insurance Card is not valid in the following countries - Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Jersey, Guernsey, Sark, Herm, Alderney, Monaco, San Marino, The Vatican. In this case, as with all other travel outwith the EU, you must ensure you have adequate health care travel insurance.
Is the GHIC not the same as travel insurance?
The answer is NO. The GHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance. It will only cover you for the reasons stated above, and, can only be used in very specific countries as stated above.
You should never travel abroad without a good travel insurance policy. Make sure you have adequate cover for you and your family and ensure it fully covers you for the type of holiday you are undertaking.
NOTE – Many travel insurance companies will insist as part of the terms and conditions of the policy, that you have a valid GHIC. The reason for this is if you need to be treated by a private hospital because a publicly run hospital cannot treat you, the costs to be covered by the insurance company can be drastically reduced. Be aware, that in these cases, insurance companies may NOT pay the full amount of the medical costs incurred which could result in you being left with a hefty bill.
Furthermore, if you are unfortunate and need to receive medical treatment when abroad, be very careful of what forms you are being asked to sign at the hospital. Some publicly run hospitals have private wings and often, foreign nationals requiring treatment are asked to sign forms, these may be to confirm that you are accepting to pay all costs associated with private treatment.
See our recent blog for more information on travel insurance - don't get caught out.
'It's 100% Free'
How can I apply for my GHIC?
The Global Health Insurance Card is issued in the UK by the NHS and is 100% free to apply for. You can easily apply online for your own card. All you need are some personal details like - national insurance number, name, address etc. Apply Here This link takes you directly to the NHS website. If you can't apply online call the NHS on 0300-330-3909.
You will find many companies online offering to complete the GHIC application process for you where they will charge you a fee. However, the card is 100% free of charge and can be completed quite easily as mentioned above.
If you need to speak with the NHS regarding your EHIC or GHIC, call 0300-330-3909 or outside the UK +44-191-283-3909
Find out more information on using NHS healthcare abroad - HERE
Find out more about the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team and how they may be able to help - HERE
Important telephone numbers while you're abroad -
In an emergency, call 112
Call the Overseas Healthcare Team if you lose your EHIC or GHIC card whilst abroad if you need a PRC - Provisional Replacement Certificate, which will cover you temporarily: (+44) 191 218 1999 ( Mon-Fri 8-6 )
Call the FCO Consular Assistance Team for all consular enquiries abroad in Europe: (+44) 20 7008 1500 (24 hour helpline)
Disclaimer - Information contained in this article was accurate at the time of publishing and should be used for guidance only. Whilst we make every effort to keep our information up to date, public information is constantly changing and therefore, no responsibility can or will be accepted if this information becomes out of date or which warrants this information to be inaccurate. Product and service links found on this page have been selected from very reputable companies that we work with. We make no recommendation for the purchase of their products or services or act as agents on their behalf.