To travel within the European Economic Area and Switzerland, you must have an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card), which entitles you to receive medical treatment in those countries for free or at a greatly reduced cost. Each EHIC card lasts for five years, at the end of which time you will need to apply for it to be renewed. You can actually apply to renew it at any time up to six months before the expiry date.
An EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) renewal application is straightforward and can be done online, but only if you have your PIN (Personal Identification Number), and your details have not changed.
Ehic renewal without a PIN
Your PIN is printed on your EHIC card: it begins with ‘UK’ and can be found next to your date of birth. If you have your card, then your EHIC renewal application can be completed online. If you have lost your EHIC card, though, then you will probably be unable to apply online because you will not have your PIN. You can still apply to renew your EHIC, you just need to contact us directly so that we can help you to do this without any delay.
Applying if your details have changed
If you have changed your address or name since you last applied for an EHIC then you’ll need to get in touch with us to find out whether you can still apply online or how else you can apply, so that you receive your new EHIC quickly and easily.
Each country will have different rules about how much you have to pay for different types of treatment: in the UK, for instance, you can receive hospital or GP treatment for free when you need it, but have to pay a fixed amount for any dental treatment. If you did not have an EHIC and needed medical care abroad, you would have to pay the full price for that treatment and this could easily run into tens of thousands of pounds.
Each member of your family will need their own EHIC and you can apply online to renew these if you have their PINs. Your EHIC will entitle you and your family to receive treatment in an emergency or simply for routine care and treatment for pre-existing conditions and pregnancy-related conditions (though not the latter if you have travelled to a country specifically to receive pregnancy-related care).
Your passport will not entitle you to receive free or cheap medical treatment abroad – only your EHIC will do this. You should also ensure that you take out adequate travel insurance, which would pay for private medical treatment as well as other help you might need abroad such as compensation for lost baggage or transport to get you home early if necessary. Your travel insurance might not pay for medical treatment that would have been cheaper if you had used your EHIC, so it’s vital that you take your EHIC card with you wherever you go within the European Economic Area.