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If you’ve lost your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) and are currently travelling or are planning on travelling without your European Health Card and want to know how to get an EHIC renewal then check out our story below about when we’d needed medical care but had a forgotten EHIC card.
When in Spain my partner needed medical attention and we didn’t have our European Health Insurance with us and realised we’d left our EHIC at home. Since we were already abroad we couldn’t get a new EHIC to replace the lost EHIC card. However, if you know the process you can still be covered for medical expenses while travelling abroad in Europe.
Before we actually needed it, I didn’t even see what the point of an EHIC card was, let alone know how to use it. To me, it was just an EU Health Card that you get told to take on school trips. It didn’t seem to serve any purpose as everyone recommends you get travel insurance anyway. However, now I know that EHIC cards are very useful indeed. Read on to find out what happens if you can’t find your EHIC card or have lost your EHIC.
What is an EHIC Card?
An EHIC, European Health Insurance Card, is a free of charge card which enables UK citizens, who normally live in the UK, to state-provided healthcare in the European Economic Area (EEA) including Switzerland either at a much-reduced cost, or free. It was previously known as an E111 card.
Is an EHIC the same as E111?
Yes, the EHIC is what replaces the old E111. Whilst E111 cards haven’t existed for a while you may remember it being called this.
When you go to get an E111 renewal you’ll notice that it’s now called EHIC. You’ll get a European Health Insurance Card renewal form instead of an E111 form.
How do I apply for an EHIC?
It’s easy to apply for a European Health Insurance Card. AND it’s free! You can do your European Health card renewal online using the EHIC application form on the NHS website to get your new free EHIC card.
Alternatively, you can apply through the post. Just download this application form for an EHIC replacement.
NOTE: An EHIC card for UK residents is ALWAYS free. Never pay a site to do your EHIC renewal for you. ALWAYS use the free official EHIC online application form here.
How do I renew my EHIC?
An NHS European Health Insurance Card Renewal is free and covers you for healthcare in Europe. If you’re a UK resident and none of your personal details have changed then you can renew your EHIC online using this form.
If you do need to change your personal details you can still do your health card renewal online. You’ll need your personal identification number (PIN).
This can be found on your EHIC card and begins with UK followed by some numbers. It’s on the same line as your date of birth.
If some of your details have changed since your card was issued and you don’t have your PIN, you might not be able to renew your EHIC online. In this case try contacting them using the EHIC phone number: +44(0)300 330 1350
Is medical care with an EHIC free?
In a lot of cases, this will be free. However, it’s important to note this isn’t always the case. You should expect to receive the same treatment that a resident of the country you’re visiting does.
Sometimes this just means a reduced price but it many cases the medical treatment will be free when you present your European travel card.
What medical care is covered with an EHIC?
An EHIC covers the costs of treatment for pre-existing medical conditions, accidents and illnesses whilst abroad, or routine maternity care (provided that you didn’t go abroad specifically to give birth).
Note that this applies only to public hospitals and surgeries, not private ones.
There are also a few grey areas when it comes to what illnesses and accidents an EHIC will cover. The official NHS website says the EHIC will cover all accidents and illnesses that happen abroad.
However, when we called up after we realised we’d lost our EHIC there seemed to be an emphasis on whether the medical condition that needed treatment was pre-existing, or had happened on holiday. Pre-existing medical conditions should be treated with associated costs covered.
You might have more difficulty in getting your healthcare covered for accidents that happened whilst away (but that’s where travel insurance comes in)
The type of treatment that’s covered varies from country to country. Check the NHS Website to see what’s covered wherever you are or are going. check here.
What doesn’t an EHIC card cover?
An EHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance. If you are travelling and require anything like a mountain rescue while skiing or need to be flown back to the UK you will have to pay the costs of this.
Additionally, if you’re travelling in France and require medical attention and an ambulance, you will have to pay the cost of that ambulance unless it’s proved there was no other way for you to get to the hospital. The cost of an ambulance isn’t something that would be covered by the EHIC.
Is an EHIC the same as travel insurance?
No. An EHIC only covers you for pre-existing medical conditions and accidents whilst abroad. You can also not use your NHS EHIC while on a cruise regardless of the above.
Travel insurance will cover you for lost or stolen property and often delayed flights. It’ll also cover you for mountain rescue (provided you’ve bought the right type) none of which will be covered by an NHS European Health Insurance Card.
The best thing to do is to make sure you have both a European travel card AND travel insurance.
Can you travel without a European Health Card?
Yes, you can travel without one but if you’re travelling within Europe then you may as well have one with you.
You may be wondering “Do I need a European Health Insurance Card?” Honestly, why wouldn’t you get this free NHS card?
They’re completely free and they could save you a lot of money should something happen while abroad.
How long does it take to get an EHIC card?
If you apply for a European Health Card online your card should arrive within 7 days.
How long is an EHIC valid?
An EHIC is valid for up to 5 years. Remember to check whether it’s still valid before you travel.
How do I use an EHIC abroad?
If you have your EHIC with you, turn up at the nearest public hospital and show it. In most cases, you won’t have to pay anything. However, depending on where you’re travelling you may need to pay your bill up front and then claim a refund afterwards.
This is because some European countries ask patients (both residents & non-residents) to pay a contribution towards the cost of the care they receive. This may hear this called ‘co-payment’ or ‘patient share’.
In this applies to you you can claim back the difference between the total bill and the ‘patient share’. BUT you cannot claim the amount you paid for ‘patient share’.
Check the country guide to make sure you know what the hospital in the country you’re visiting can still charge you for.
For instance, in France, you’re likely to still have to pay the cost of an ambulance. This is unless you can prove that there is no possible way you could make it to the hospital without one.
But what if I forget or have lost my EHIC card?
This is the situation we found ourselves in in Spain. We both have EHIC cards but they were sitting in a drawer or cupboard somewhere back in London.
The great news is that as long as you’ve applied for an EHIC you’ll be covered from the date of your EHIC application.
If you’ve forgotten to take your EHIC with you on holiday and have a moment of . “oh dam, I don’t have my EHIC card with me!”, or have lost your EHIC while abroad, call the EHIC contact number: +44 (0)191 218 1999.
Calling this number will get you a provisional replacement certificate (PRC). This covers you for treatment until you get home.
If you’re calling because your EHIC is lost then you may as well apply for a health card replacement at the same time.
How do I get a PRC for lost EHIC?
When calling for a PRC in instances where you realised “I forgot my EHIC card” you will need to provide the following details:
- National Insurance number
- Date of birth
- NHS number if known
- The e-mail address for the specific department of the organisation providing your treatment. This is so that the PRC can be sent directly to them. If you do not know that yet you could get it sent to your email address instead.
What happens if you forget your EHIC card? – What happened when we lost our EHIC card while abroad and needed it
In practice, we didn’t even require a PRC for our lost NHS card. We turned up at the hospital and told the reception desk we had an EHIC card but not on us.
We were asked for a passport and given a letter that told us to send proof of an EHIC card via email within 10 days. Sometimes the doctor might demand further proof if you left your EHIC card at home.
In this case, call the number above to get a PRC emailed or faxed to the hospital.
All in all, it was a very easy and quick process that saved us in excess of 200 euros. It also got my boyfriend walking again! If you haven’t signed up for an EHIC you really should. They’re free and can save you loads of money!
I’ve lost my EHIC card & I’m going on holiday tomorrow
If your European Health Insurance Card is lost, or your E111 card is lost, and you’re going away tomorrow then it’s important you still apply for an EHIC card renewal to replace lost EHIC card.
As long as you have applied for a card you should be able to get a PRC and receive treatment while abroad even with a lost health card.
This is the same in the instance that your EHIC card expired and you travel tomorrow.
Important details about EHIC
- EHIC’s are ALWAYS free, NEVER pay for them
- While you don’t need to carry EHIC cards when you travel, you should if you’re travelling in Europe.
- The EHIC card contact number is you’re abroad and need a PRC is: +44 (0)191 218 1999
- For a new EHIC use the NHS EHIC website and application form here to apply for a free EHIC card
- EHIC’s are not the same as travel insurance. You should have both if you’re travelling within Europe.