Last reviewed 13 January 2021

UK residents will now be able to apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), the Department of Health and Social Care has announced.

Under Britain’s new agreement with the EU, it explained, UK residents’ rights to emergency and medically necessary healthcare will continue when travelling in the EU.

This includes medically necessary treatment for a pre-existing or chronic condition.

Current European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) remain valid for as long as they are in date and people can continue to use these when travelling to EU Member States.

Minister for Health Edward Argar said: “Our deal with the EU ensures the right for our citizens to access necessary healthcare on their holidays and travels to countries in the EU will continue. The GHIC is a key element of the UK’s future relationship with the EU and will provide certainty and security for all UK residents”.

He stressed that people only need to apply for their new GHIC when their current EHIC expires.

Both cards will offer equivalent protection for emergency and medically necessary healthcare needs when in the EU on a temporary stay, which includes holiday, study and business travel.

The new card is free to obtain from and people are warned that they should apply at least two weeks before they plan to travel to ensure the GHIC arrives on time.

They are also advised that sites which include a charging fee are not affiliated with the official GHIC service.

Cover for emergency and medically necessary healthcare is part of a wider healthcare agreement struck with the EU that will see continued co-operation on healthcare for UK residents.

EU Member State EHICs will continue to be accepted by the NHS.

If a UK resident is travelling without a card, they are still entitled to necessary healthcare and should contact the NHS Business Services Authority, which covers the whole of the UK and can arrange for payment should they require treatment when abroad.