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Euro health cover to stay post-Brexit

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

The Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) is free and replaces the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which is being phased out following Brexit.

An EHIC gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in the EU, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Despite the ‘global’ name, the GHIC will only be accepted within the EU. It won’t cover you in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.

Do I need to apply for a GHIC now?

Travellers heading to Europe on holiday – when coronavirus restrictions allow – can still use their EHIC as long as it hasn’t expired. The expiry date on your EHIC is written on the bottom right of the physical card.

You only need to replace your EHIC with a GHIC when your current EHIC expires.

Do I still need travel insurance with a GHIC?

Neither a EHIC or GHIC is a replacement for travel insurance. One factor is that if you’re visiting a country where citizens pay for healthcare, you will also need to fund the medical costs.

The GHIC won’t cover medical costs from private healthcare providers and, like the EHIC, won’t be valid on cruises.

It also won’t cover you for non-health issues that arise while you’re in the EU such as missed departures, cancellation, lost luggage and repatriation.

How do I apply for a GHIC?

If your EHIC has expired, or you don’t have one, you can apply for a GHIC via the NHS website.

Be aware that this website still refers to the EHIC for now. However, an application should result in a GHIC being sent to you.

However, a barrage of applications mean you may have trouble applying for your GHIC at the moment.

A Tweet from @NHS Overseas Healthcare Services on 4 January says: “Due to the vast volumes of EHIC applications we have received over the past few days, we are aware many of you may be receiving an undeliverable message when emailing your applications. We are working at pace to get this resolved and will update you as soon as we can.”

Be wary of ‘copycat sites’ trying to sell you a GHIC for a fee, or charging you to check, process or forward an application. These sites are not affiliated with the NHS or the government.