A valid European Health Insurance Card Renewal (EHIC renewal) will provide the holder with the right to access the public healthcare system of all 28 countries within the European Economic Area (EEA) and also Switzerland. There are some countries within Europe which do not accept an EHIC, including:
1) The Channel Islands
2) The Isle of Man
4) San Marino
5) The Vatican
In the past, the cards were known as E111 card renewal and E11 card renewals, although the name changed in 2005 many people still refer to the scheme as E111 card renewals. If you have not renewed your EU healthcare card for a few years, you may still hold one of the now expired E111 cards.
Despite the benefits which an EHIC renewal provides, more than 50% of UK residents do not hold a card and nearly 5.4 million cards are due for renewal this year.
What are the benefits of an EHIC renewal?
An in-date card will provide you with access to any medical treatment required until you are able to return to the UK. If you hold a card, this treatment will be provided on the same terms as the residents of the country you are visiting. The card is completely free and, in many situations, you will benefit from reduced medical costs or even completely free medical care.
How to complete your health card renewal
An EHIC card renewal will be valid for 5 years and the expiry date is printed on the front of the card. If you are planning to travel abroad and your EHIC renewal is due to expire, it is possible to complete your E111 renewal up to 6 months before the card expiry date.
When you apply for your E111 card renewal you will need to provide the following information:
2) Date of birth
3) National Insurance number or NHS number
4) Health Care Number if you are based in Northern Ireland
5) CHI number if you live in Scotland
When you apply for your EHIC renewal online, the card will usually arrive within 7 days. Alternatively, you can complete your E111 renewal form and post to the NHS Business Services Authority or provide your details over the phone.
If you have any questions relating to your European health card renewal, there is an official Facebook page which will provide you with quick access to the NHS’s EHIC renewal services team.
Who can complete an EHIC card renewal?
Your ability to apply for a European Health Insurance Card renewal is determined by EU law, rather than an individual’s nationality. The healthcare scheme laws apply to every EEA country and here in the UK, the system is residency based.
This means that an individual’s insurability under European Union law is determined by their residency, rather than their contributions to National Insurance or UK paid taxes. All UK residents are eligible for a card, although those who are residents of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are not eligible.
If you are a resident of the UK and are not covered by the healthcare system within a different EEA country, it is likely that through EU law you will be eligible for a European Health Insurance Card renewal. Although, when you apply for your EHIC card renewal you will need to submit evidence which proves this. In some situations, if you live in a different EEA country, you may still be entitled to an EU Card renewal.
If the circumstances of your residency have changed since your card was issued, you may no longer be entitled to a UK health card renewal. For example, if you move abroad or start to work in another country, it is likely you will lose your entitlement.
How to renew your EHIC if you are a resident of Europe
If you reside outside the UK but within either an EEA country or Switzerland, you may still be able to apply for a UK E111 card renewal. You will be eligible if any of these situations apply:
1) You have an S1 form which provides a certificate of entitlement and you are in receipt of an exportable UK benefit or UK state pension.
2) You live within the UK but have been sent to work in an EEA country or in Switzerland by your employer.
3) You live within the EEA or Switzerland but work in the UK and are considered a frontier worker.
4) You are related to a posted or frontier worker and do not have your own entitlement in the country which you normally reside in.
If any of the above apply, you will not be able to complete your EHIC card renewal online. Instead, you will need to speak to the dedicated Overseas Healthcare Services department on 0191 2181999 from the UK, or if you are calling from abroad you should call +44 191 2181999.
European Health Insurance Card renewal for families
During your online health card renewal, it is important to remember that each member of the family will need their own EHIC application. If you already hold an card and you are simply completing your EU card renewal, you should provide your details first, followed by the details of other members of the family.
A parent or guardian will need to apply for a card for every person in the family who is under the age of 16. It is also possible to apply on behalf of your child if they are under the age of 19 and still in full-time education.
If you need to complete an E111 renewal for specific members of the family, you will still need to enter the details of each person in the family, even if their cards are still valid. This is so that each person remains linked to the same EU Card renewal account. The system will display a warning message for the cards which are not due to be renewed. This means that only those which are due for an E11 renewal will be processed.
How to use a valid EHIC Renewal
If you need to access medical treatment while visiting Switzerland or a country in the EEA, simply present your card. Once the facility knows that you are a member of the EHIC replacement scheme, you will be able to access state-provided medical treatment.
If the facility is not aware that you hold an in-date card, you may be admitted to a private medical facility which will charge a very high amount for your treatment. It is also worth remembering that the cost of this is unlikely to be covered by travel insurance, as many insurers expect you to hold a valid EHIC renewal.
However, if you are in an emergency situation and are admitted to a private facility for treatment, the majority of travel insurers will be understanding of the situation and provide the funds required.
The healthcare system in each country is completely different, so it is advisable to check the arrangements of the country you are visiting before your trip. By taking note of important contact numbers, the likely costs of treatments and how to claim a refund, you will find it much easier to use your valid EHIC card renewal.
Treatments covered when you complete your European Health Insurance Card renewal
If you complete your EHIC card renewal, you will be able to access medical care for all existing medical conditions and routine maternity appointments. However, the visit to the country must not be to purposefully access the healthcare system. In some EEA countries, state-provided medical care may not be provided, which will mean you cannot use your card.
Every country within the EEA provides a different healthcare system, so there will be differing costs to those which you are familiar with through the NHS. For example, some countries will require you to pay a contribution towards the cost of your medical treatment.
The card will provide you with access to routine maternity care, as long as the sole purpose of your visit is not to give birth in another EEA country or Switzerland. Although, if you do give birth unexpectedly, a valid EHIC renewal will ensure the treatment for you and the baby is covered.
A valid card will also enable you to access routine treatments such as oxygen and kidney dialysis. However, you will need to ask your UK-based healthcare provider for assistance with pre-booking these treatments before you travel outside the UK.
Common questions and answers relating to European Health Insurance Card renewal
Will I need travel insurance with an EHIC renewal?
An EHIC renewal is not an alternative to travel insurance, as it will not provide complete cover for many of the costs involved with treatment.
This is a common misconception, with 69% of holidaymakers from the UK believing that an EHIC will provide them with free medical care. In fact, according to the survey by GoCompare, 7% of holidaymakers believed a valid card would even provide them with a free air ambulance to take them back to the UK. This is not the case; for example, an EHIC renewal will not cover:
1) Private medical treatment
2) Mountain rescue in a ski resort
3) Repatriation to the UK
4) Stolen or lost property
5) Medical care whilst on a cruise
6) Cancellations to your holiday
It is also worth noting that in some countries state-provided medical care may not be available. If you are taken to a private hospital, the card will not cover the costs of this treatment. If your EHIC doesn’t provide you with free treatment, your travel insurance will usually cover the remainder of the total cost.
To guarantee you have adequate medical cover for your trip to the EU, it is important to arrange travel insurance. In fact, some travel insurance providers will even insist that you have an EHIC. So, if yours has expired and you are planning on relying solely on travel insurance, it is advisable to complete your European health insurance card renewal.
Travel insurers will offer their most competitive policies to customers which hold an in-date card. This is because the overall bill for any required medical treatment is likely to be much lower, so the risk to the insurers is drastically reduced. If you do not hold an EHIC or have failed to renew an expired card, some insurers will increase your premium and charge a large excess.
I have travel insurance, should I still complete my European Health Insurance Card renewal?
Yes, if your card has expired you should complete your renewal before travelling. There are many forms of medical care which will not be covered through your travel insurance policy, which the EHIC includes. For example, if you have consumed alcohol your travel insurance may not be valid, but the card will ensure you can still be treated.
Can I complete my EHIC renewal online if I am not an EEA national?
If your residency status has changed since your last card was issued, you may no longer be considered an EEA or Swiss national. If you believe you are still entitled to your EU card renewal, you should complete an E111 renewal form and attach a copy of your UK residence permit or visa. This should be posted to:
Overseas Healthcare Services
NHS Business Services Authority
152 Pilgrim Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
How do I complete my E11 card renewal if my personal details have changed?
If you need to change any of the personal details on your account, you will need to complete your EHIC renewal online using your personal identification number (PIN). This is printed on the front of your EHIC card next to your date of birth. The PIN will begin with the letters ‘UK’ and contains 6 unique numbers. By providing your PIN, the E111 card renewal team will be able to easily access and update your details.
If you need to update your details but do not know your PIN, you will need to complete the E11 card renewal by phone or post. If you are unsure which details are held for you, it is possible to check by contacting the enquiry team by:
1) Phone: 0300 3301350
2) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
3) Post: EHIC Enquiries
PO Box 1114
Newcastle upon Tyne
My EHIC was lost or stolen, how do I apply for a renewal?
If you need to apply for an EHIC renewal when your card is lost or stolen, you should contact the EHIC enquiry line as soon as possible on 0300 3301350. If you call outside of normal working hours, you will still be able to access the 24/7 automated voice recording service. You will need to provide your:
3) Date of birth
If your card is lost or stolen and you are in urgent need of medical care, you will need to apply for a temporary Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC), before completing the full EHIC card renewal. The PRC can be applied for by another person who holds your details and it will give you the cover you require until you return to the UK and renew your EHIC. To apply for a PRC. you will need your:
1) National Insurance number
3) UK address
4) Date of birth
5) NHS number
6) Email address for the medical team providing your care
I renewed my EHIC, why did I still need to pay for healthcare in the EEA?
In some situations, even if you provide the medical department with a valid card you may need to pay your bill upfront. It may be possible to claim a refund when you return to the UK if you have kept all receipts and paperwork relating to the treatment.
If you were required to pay a contribution towards the cost of your treatment, you will usually be able to claim a refund for the difference between the patient share and the total bill. The country which provides the treatment will be responsible for deciding the cost of the patient contribution, which is used to calculate the refund available.
There have been some reports of valid EHIC cards being refused, so patients are forced to pay for private healthcare. This is likely to be a breach of the EU laws relating to the scheme, so you should contact the appropriate authorities to report the issue. Whilst abroad the British Embassy should be your first port of call, and when you are back in the UK you will need to contact the SOLVIT system.
Will Brexit impact my European Health Insurance Card renewal?
The EHIC renewal scheme is an agreement between countries within the EU and the EEA, however, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in June 2016. This means that when we reach the Brexit date of 31 October 2019 and the UK officially leaves the UK, there is likely to be changed to the way EHIC cards can be used.
As it stands, there is no official plan in place for the continuation of the scheme. However, for now, it is possible to continue to use the scheme, so if your card is due for renewal it is advisable to apply as normal.
It is currently planned that the scheme arrangement will continue until December 2020, which still provides plenty of time for you to use your renewed EHIC. Although there are no guarantees that you will still be able to use your card after December 2020, UK-based card holders may still be able to access the same entitlements.
It is hoped that the period before 31 December 2020 will provide the government with enough time to arrange the details of the scheme with the EU. There are already some countries which have arranged reciprocal healthcare arrangements with the UK, including Australia and New Zealand. This means that it is entirely possible that the UK will be able to maintain access to the current scheme with a similar reciprocal agreement.
What happens if my EHIC card renewal does not arrive in time for my holiday?
Although it is always advisable to carry your EHIC card with you at all times, you will still be covered without the physical card. The date which you complete your EHIC renewal will be the date which your cover becomes effective. If you do need medical care while abroad and do not have the card, you may need to show a Provisional EHIC Replacement Certificate (PRC). This will prove that you are eligible to receive medical care in line with the EHIC scheme.
Access healthcare quickly and easily by completing your EHIC renewal today!
Although none of us like to imagine falling ill or injuring ourselves whilst on holiday, it is better to prepare for the worst. If your current card has expired or will expire within the next 6 months, now is the time to complete your EHIC card renewal. To find out more, please contact our experienced team.