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Post Brexit: will your EHIC card still work?


If you’re planning to spend the summer enjoying a relaxing holiday in a mobile home in Europe, there’s some good news. As part of the Brexit deal between the EU and the UK, your EHIC card will still be valid until it expires, at which point you’ll need to apply for the new Global Health Insurance Card or GHIC.

How does the new GHIC work?

Like the EHIC, the GHIC will cover chronic illness including pre-existing conditions which is one of the big benefits of carrying the card. It also covers routine maternity care and emergency medical treatment.

But where the EHIC was valid for all EU countries plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, the new GHIC is only valid in EU countries and if you need dialysis or chemotherapy you’ll need to check whether your treatment is available before you travel.

Neither the EHIC or GHIC covers private healthcare or things like mountain rescue or being flown home to the UK.

The government points out that the GHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance, so make sure you take out single or multi-trip cover before you depending on whether you’re going for a quick trip or you’ll be making several visits to your holiday homes.

Apply for your GHIC

First you’ll need to check the expiry date on your EHIC card which is printed on the front. If your card is a few weeks away from expiring, now’s the time to apply for the new GHIC.

According to the website, your new card should arrive within 10 days after making your application online. UK students studying in the EU and non-British citizens will have to apply by post attaching a letter from your university or a copy of your visa or residence permit.

Applying is easy – just visit the official site at https://www.ghic.org.uk/Internet/startApplication.do and register or login to use the website and apply for your card. Like the EHIC it’s completely free so don’t be fooled by websites that apply for the card on your behalf and charge a fee for doing so.

What happens if you’re relocating abroad?

If you’ve already relocated to the EU before the end of the transition period in 2020, you’ll be able to apply for a new UK-issued EHIC. This applies whether you’re in the EU to work or you’re retired.

There’s no need to worry about whether your card will be valid or not as your rights are guaranteed by the EU-UK Brexit deal and are a part of UK law.

Can I use the GHIC to travel outside the EU?

The UK already has reciprocal agreements with a few non-EU countries like Australia and New Zealand, which means that you can get emergency treatment for free or a reduced cost.

But any pre-existing conditions won’t be covered, unlike the EHIC, so you’re best to take out travel insurance to ensure you’re fully covered.

What do I need to do before I travel?

First, check whether you need to apply for the new GHIC – remember your old EHIC will be valid until it expires.

Then apply online for free at the official site and wait 10 days for your new GHIC card.

Don’t forget to top up with travel insurance, especially if you’re going skiing.

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