A UK-issued European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) provides the holder with the right to access state-provided healthcare while visiting a country in the EEA or Switzerland. The EHIC will enable the holder to access medical treatment which is necessary until their return to the UK, on the same terms as the residents of the country they are visiting.
What information is included on an EHIC card?
Although your NHS number is printed on most official medical documents, the current EHIC design does not include an NHS number. Instead, the details included on the card are:
1) Full name
2) Given names
3) Date of birth
4) Personal Identification Number (PIN)
5) Identification number of the institution
6) Identification number of the card
7) Expiry date
What is an NHS number?
Each person registered with the NHS within England and Wales is assigned an NHS number, which is unique to them. There are also equivalent medical numbering systems in Northern Ireland and Scotland, known as the CHI number and the Health and Care Number.
When a person registers with a GP, they will be sent their NHS number in the post. Each NHS number consists of 10 digits, which are displayed in a 3,3,4 format. In the past, GPs in England issued medical cards which included a person’s NHS number, but these are no longer provided. If you still hold an old medical card, it is likely that it will include the old-style NHS number which is made up of letters and numbers.
An NHS number will identify you and help medical staff to find and access your medical records easily, so that information can be used to provide the appropriate care and correct treatment. Within the UK, an NHS number can be used by the holder to book appointments through the online NHS e-referral service and to register for an electronic prescription service.
Some people confuse NHS numbers with National Insurance (NI) numbers, which are instead used to identify a person’s tax and pension contributions.
How do I find out my NHS number?
If you are registered with a GP, they will be able to provide you with your NHS number. You will need to provide proof of identity in the form of a driving licence or passport.
If you are not registered with a GP, you can contact your nearest Primary Care Trust who will look it up for you. When you contact them, you will need to ask to speak to the Patient and Practitioners Service Agency. They will ask for your name, address and date of birth and will then issue you with your NHS number.
Do I need an NHS number to access medical treatment abroad
No, but you will need to show the medical facility your EHIC card, as this will prove your entitlement to medical care in the country you are visiting. The details on the card will link you to the UK’s medical system so that you can receive the necessary care. Although, it can be helpful to provide medical staff with your NHS number so they can quickly access the required records from the UK.
How to apply for a European Health Insurance Card
To ensure you are able to access the required medical care while visiting the EU, it is advisable to apply for an EHIC card. The entitlement to a UK-issued EHIC is based on their National Insurance contributions and payment of UK taxes.
If you are ordinarily resident within the UK, it is likely you will be able to apply for an EHIC. The quickest way to apply for an EHIC is online, which will only take 7 days to process.
To complete the application, you will need to provide your National Insurance number or NHS number, full name and date of birth. The card will be valid for 5 years, although it is possible to apply for a renewal of your card 6 months before the expiry date.
To apply for EHIC card for your family you will need to apply for yourself, partner and all dependent children which are under the age of 16. If you have dependents under the age of 19, which are still in full-time education they should also be included in the application. You will need to enter your own details first, followed by the details of each dependent.
When you apply for an EHIC for your dependents you will need to provide their NHS number during the application process. All children in England and Wales are provided with an NHS number when they are born in a hospital. If a baby is born away from a hospital, the child will be given an NHS number when the birth is registered. A record will be made with the Personal Demographics Service, which is a national patient database that links your unique NHS number with your details.
Can I apply for an EHIC if I do not have an NHS number?
If you do not have an NHS number you can still apply for an EHIC, as long as you have a National Insurance number. A temporary NI number will not be valid and if you have recently applied for an NI number, it can take up to 6 weeks to receive it. A temporary NI number will begin with the prefix ‘TN’, followed by the person date of birth, and a letter for their gender, either ‘M’ or ‘F’.
If you are not a British Citizen but work in the UK, you will have a National Insurance number and will be eligible for an EHIC card. In addition, if you are a resident of another EEA country but receive an exportable UK benefit or a UK state pension, you will also be able to apply for a UK-issued EHIC.
To find out more about obtaining an NHS number and their importance in applying for an EHIC card, please contact our experienced team. We will be able to offer advice about the application process for a UK-issued EHIC.