How do I get a GHIC card as a UK national

*This extract is taken from www.nhs.uk

Apply for a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)

A UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in the European Union (EU).

This page covers:

  • when to apply for a GHIC
  • who can get a GHIC
  • who can apply for a new UK EHIC
  • what the GHIC covers
  • what the GHIC does not cover
  • what to do if you’re abroad and do not have your card
  • claiming a refund

Check before you travel

Before planning a trip abroad, check the GOV.UK guidance for travelling overseas during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

When to apply for a GHIC

UK-issued European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) are still valid and offer the same cover as GHICs in the EU.

Once your EHIC has expired, you’ll be able to replace it with a GHIC.

You can get a provisional replacement certificate (PRC) if you need treatment abroad and do not have a card.

Most people can apply for a GHIC online, but some people need to apply by post. See the section below about Who can get a GHIC.

Beware of unofficial websites, which may charge if you apply through them. An EHIC or GHIC is free of charge.

Your card will normally arrive within 10 days.

If you’re applying from Northern Ireland, from March 2021 you’ll have the choice of a standard GHIC with a union flag or one with a plain background.

Who can get a GHIC

Residents of the UK

Entitlement to a UK GHIC is not based on your nationality.

The UK operates a residency-based healthcare system (the NHS), which means access is generally determined by residency and not by the past or present payment of National Insurance contributions or UK taxes.

If you’re ordinarily resident in the UK and not insured by an EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, you’re likely to be considered insured by the UK and will be entitled to a GHIC.

You’ll need to provide the necessary evidence when applying.

There are certain circumstances where you may be entitled to a GHIC or UK-issued EHIC despite living in an EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.

You are not entitled to a GHIC if you’re insured by an EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland but live in the UK. You should contact the relevant authority in the country you’re insured by and request an EHIC.

Information:If your circumstances change, you may lose your entitlement to a GHIC. If you then use your GHIC abroad, you may be liable for the full cost of treatment received.

You may lose your entitlement to a GHIC when you move abroad, take up work abroad or change your residency status.

Families

Every family member requires a GHIC. You can make an application for yourself and on behalf of your partner and any dependent children under the age of 16.

If you already have a GHIC, you must enter your own details first and apply for any additional cards when prompted.

If you’re under the age of 16, a parent or guardian will need to apply for you. Boarding school teaching staff can apply on behalf of any children in their care.

UK students going to the EU

If you’re planning to study in an EU country, you need to apply for a GHIC that’s time limited to the length of your course. You cannot apply for this online.

You’ll also need a letter from your university or college confirming:

  • name and address of the UK educational institution (if you’re going as part of a UK course)
  • address of where you’re studying in the EU
  • details of the qualification you’re studying for
  • dates your course started and is due to finish

Complete a GHIC application form (PDF, 678kb) and post it along with your university/college letter to:

Overseas Healthcare Services
NHS Business Services Authority
Bridge House
152 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 6SN

UK students in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland

If you were already in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland before 1 January 2021 because you’re studying there, or on a placement as part of a recognised UK university course, you need to apply for a new EHIC.

GHICs and old UK EHICs do not work in these 4 countries.

Your new EHIC will cover you for medically necessary healthcare in that country until the end of your study period abroad.

Non-British and non-Irish nationals

If you or a family member are not a British or Irish national, you’ll have to provide further evidence that you’re eligible.

You’ll need to complete a GHIC application form (PDF, 678kb), attach a copy of your visa or UK residence permit, and post it to:

Overseas Healthcare Services
NHS Business Services Authority
Bridge House
152 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 6SN

Who can apply for a new UK EHIC

Some people may be able to apply for a new UK-issued EHIC if they are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. This gives you the same cover as a GHIC in EU countries.

Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, a new UK-issued EHIC also covers you for necessary healthcare from state services in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

GHICs and old UK EHICs do not work in these 4 countries.

You can apply for a new UK EHIC if you’re:

  • an EU, Swiss, Norwegian, Icelandic or Liechtenstein citizen, and you’ve been living in the UK since before 1 January 2021
  • a UK State Pensioner or receiving some other exportable benefits, and you have a registered S1 form or E121
  • a frontier worker (someone who works in one state and lives in another) and you’ve been one since before 1 January 2021, for as long as you continue to be a frontier worker in the host state, and you’re eligible for an S1 form or E106
  • a worker posted to work in another EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland by your UK employer, and you’ve been there since before 1 January 2021, where the country has agreed to let the posting continue
  • an eligible family member or dependant of one of the above
  • a UK student studying in the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, and you’ve been there since before 1 January 2021

Dual nationals

If you’re a dual UK/EU national, you’re eligible for a new UK-issued EHIC provided you meet all the following requirements:

  • you acquired British citizenship through naturalisation
  • you were a citizen of an EU country, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein before also becoming a British citizen
  • you have retained your nationality of one of those countries

Irish citizens and people who live in Ireland

Irish citizens who were born in the UK, including people of Northern Ireland who are Irish citizens, will not usually be eligible for a new UK-issued EHIC. If you’re resident in the UK, you should apply for a GHIC.

You may be able to get a new UK-issued EHIC if you’re:

  • a UK State Pensioner or receiving some other exportable benefits and you’ve been living in the Republic of Ireland since before 1 January 2021
  • a frontier worker (someone who works in one state and lives in another) and you’ve been one since before 1 January 2021, for as long as you continue to be a frontier worker in the host state
  • an eligible family member or dependant of one of the above

You cannot currently apply online for your EHIC, you should call the Overseas Healthcare Services. This is part of the NHS Business Services Authority (BSA).

NHS Overseas Healthcare Services
Phone +44 (0)191 218 1999
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

You should only apply for an EHIC if you intend to travel to the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.

What the GHIC covers

You can use a GHIC to get “necessary healthcare” from state services when you’re visiting an EU country.

Necessary healthcare means healthcare which becomes medically necessary during your stay, and you cannot reasonably wait until you’re back in the UK to get it.

This includes things like:

  • emergency treatment and visits to A&E
  • treatment for a long-term or pre-existing medical condition
  • routine medical care for pre-existing conditions that need monitoring
  • routine maternity care, as long as you’re not going abroad to give birth
  • oxygen and kidney dialysis

You’ll need to pre-arrange some treatments with the relevant healthcare provider in the country you are visiting, for example kidney dialysis or chemotherapy.

Check that you’re not booked with a private healthcare provider, as these are not covered by GHIC.

If you fall ill on a ship or plane, your GHIC also covers you for necessary treatment when you arrive in an EU country.

Not all state healthcare is free in the EU and you may have to pay for services that you’d get for free on the NHS.

What the GHIC does not cover

GHICs and old UK EHICs only cover you in EU countries. They do not cover you in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.

However, if you were already on a visit to Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland before 1 January 2021, your UK EHIC entitlements will continue until you leave that country. You can also use a UK passport to get medically necessary treatment in Norway.

Each country’s health system is different and might not include all the things you might expect to get free of charge from the NHS.

In some countries, you have to pay a percentage towards the cost of any state-provided treatment, known as a patient co-payment.

You’ll have to pay the same as a patient from that country. Find out more in the GOV.UK country healthcare guides.

Travel insurance

The GHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs, such as mountain rescue in ski resorts or being flown back to the UK.

Make sure you have both a GHIC and a travel insurance policy that includes healthcare in place before you travel.

Some insurers now insist you hold a GHIC.

You may not be able to use your GHIC in parts of the EU where state-provided healthcare is not available.

Be cautious if healthcare arrangements are made by a hotel or travel representative claiming that you’ll get back anything you pay for. Costs may not be recoverable under the GHIC scheme, particularly if treatment is not from a state provider.

Check your individual travel insurance covers your healthcare needs.

GHIC will not cover your medical treatment if you’re travelling abroad specifically to have medical treatment, including giving birth. Find out about going abroad for medical treatment

If you’re abroad and do not have your card with you

You can get a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) to prove your entitlement to medically necessary healthcare if you travel to Europe without your GHIC or EHIC and need treatment during your visit.

You’ll need to apply for a PRC by calling Overseas Healthcare Services at the NHS Business Services Authority on +44 (0)191 218 1999, Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

Someone else can apply for a PRC on your behalf.

If you need it outside opening hours, you should call as soon as possible the next working day.

The PRC will give you the same cover as an EHIC or GHIC until you return home.

When calling for a PRC, you’ll need to give:

  • your National Insurance number
  • your name
  • your address
  • your date of birth
  • the name of the treatment facility
  • the email address for the specific department of the organisation providing your treatment

Claiming a refund

In some countries you may be expected to pay your bill upfront and then claim a refund afterwards.

Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork (make copies if necessary). You or your insurance company may need them if you’re applying for a refund.

Some countries ask patients to pay a contribution towards the cost of their care, such as for prescription costs. This is known as a co-payment or patient share.

You can claim back the difference between the total bill and the patient share, but the actual patient share is not refundable.

It’s the responsibility of the authority of the country of treatment to decide the amount of the patient share and therefore how much is refundable from the total bill.

For further advice, contact the Overseas Healthcare Service on 0191 218 1999, Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

Page last reviewed: 11 January 2021
Next review due: 11 January 2024

 

 

*this article will be updated regularly as changes to the legislation occur and when new information comes to light.  Be sure to check back to see new updates.

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