It’s thought that several million Britons could have let their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) expire. Your EHIC card help covers some of your medical care should you be taken ill whilst travelling in Europe. It replaces the old E111 form. The EHIC card entitles you to receive either free or subsidised healthcare in most EU member states should you fall ill or have an accident whilst travelling in Europe. But you’re only covered if your card is in date. Don’t make the mistake of many Britons and forget to renew your card before you travel.
An expired European health card isn’t necessarily a problem – unless you’re planning to travel to Europe in the next few months. Keeping your EHIC up to date also means you can travel at short notice. It’s just a good idea to keep it updated so you’re always covered, and it’s one less thing to think about when you’re planning a trip.
Your EHIC does not replace travel insurance, and it’s a good idea to take some travel cover out that will provide cover for the duration of your stay abroad. In fact, some travel insurers insist that you have a valid EHIC card to take out their cover. Failure to show that you had a valid EHIC card when you travelled could render your travel insurance policy useless. Check your terms and conditions if your EHIC has expired. If your EHIC is out of date and you can’t renew before you travel, it’s best to arrange travel insurance that will cover you even without a card.
How to renew
You can easily apply for a new EHIC online. Applying online for your EHIC card is simple and straightforward. After you apply for your card over the internet, it takes between seven and 10 working days to arrive if you have a UK address. If you apply by post, your card takes a few weeks longer to arrive. Unfortunately there’s no ‘fast track’ service like there is at the passport office, so apply in good time.
If you really can’t renew the card before you travel, take the number of the Department for Work and Pensions Overseas Healthcare Team (DWP OHT) with you. They may be able to offer some help in the event of an accident or sudden illness.
Renew your EHIC in good time
It’s always a good idea to renew things such as your EHIC card and passport well ahead of the busy holiday periods such as the school summer holidays, when many people from the UK will be jetting off abroad. There’s always a bigger queue to get essential documents renewed around holiday times, as many people will have left it to the last minute.
How long does my card last?
Your EHIC is valid for up to five years from the time you receive it. Make sure your card is still valid and will cover you for the entire period that you are abroad. It’s possible to renew your EHIC up to six months before it expires.