Healthcare When you Travel Abroad

Visiting a country within the European Economic Area (EEA)?

Due to the changes to our status with Europe and the Coronavirus Pandemic, please check government web sites for the latest status before you plan to travel or travel.  Click here: Government Web site: Travel Abroad.

Note that you EHIC card may no longer apply.  Check detail on EHIC and GHIC (global health insurance cards) cards on this link.

From the web site:

There are two types of cover available.

You can apply for either:

  • a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)
  • a UK European Health Insurance Card (new UK EHIC), if you have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement

For most people, the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) replaces the existing European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for new applications. They provide the same access to healthcare in the EU.

Information: A GHIC or EHIC is free of charge. Beware of unofficial websites, they may charge you a fee to apply.

If you have an EHIC

If you have an existing EHIC, it will remain valid until the expiry date on the card. Once your current card expires, you’ll need to apply for a new card.

You can apply for a new card up to 6 months before your current card expires.

How to use an EHIC or GHIC

You can use an EHIC or GHIC to get state-provided medically necessary healthcare when you’re visiting an EU country.

Medically necessary healthcare means healthcare that cannot reasonably wait until you come back to the UK. Whether treatment is necessary is decided by the healthcare provider in the country you are visiting.

Medically necessary healthcare includes things like:

  • emergency treatment and visits to A&E
  • treatment for long-term or pre-existing medical conditions
  • 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 therapy 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. You should do so at least 8 weeks before travelling.

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

Information: Your EHIC or GHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance. It may not cover all health costs and never covers repatriation costs. Make sure you have travel insurance as well as an EHIC or GHIC.


If you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment, please read our section on seeking medical treatment in Europe.

Visiting a Country Outside of the EEA?

For countries outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) please follow this link for further information.

Information from

Please remember to check to see if you need any travel vaccinations.  Further information in our Travel Vaccination section.