An EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) is an essential travel document you need to apply for before travelling in the European Union. Once you have one, your EHIC card entitles you to free or reduced cost medical treatment and care in countries within the European Economic Area (EEA). This area includes all of the countries in the European Union, plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Travelling without an EHIC card puts you at risk of running up large medical bills if the worst happens and you or a family member are taken ill or are involved in an accident.
While the EHIC card will cover you and your family in cases of illness and accidents that occur while on holiday in Europe, it will generally not cover you if you are travelling to a country specifically to get medical treatment. It does, however, cover many pre-existing medical conditions, as well as routine maternity care, as long as the purpose of a woman’s trip is not just to travel to give birth.
Will one card cover my whole family?
No, there is no such thing as a family EHIC card. Each EHIC card will only cover one individual, so it’s important that you make sure you get a separate EHIC card for each member of your family, including any children, before you travel to Europe.
You can apply for the card on your children’s behalf if they are under the age of 16 (or under 19 if they are still in full-time education).
How do I apply for an EHIC card for children?
If you are applying for your own EHIC card, you can usually add children to the application form as your dependants, instead of having to complete separate forms for all of you. Your child/children will then receive their own EHIC card.
If you already have an EHIC card, you can apply for a European Health Insurance card for your child separately by filling in an online form and including your details as parent or carer, along with your child’s details, including their full name and date of birth.
Once you have completed your application, you will receive a confirmation that it has been received. Your application will then be checked and processed. The timescale can vary for this, depending on how busy the service is and the time of year, but it should usually take around a week. You should definitely make sure that you allow for longer though, and apply a good few weeks before you travel. You can apply for a new EHIC card up to six months before your current one is due to expire.
How do I renew my family’s EHIC cards?
If you’re renewing a child’s EHIC card, you’ll need to provide a PIN number. This is the number that is shown on their current card. You should ensure that each member of your family stays linked when you are renewing an EHIC card, so enter the details of each member of your family – even if only one is due for renewal.