Make sure you can get healthcare if travelling in Europe

If you are about to travel to Europe, check the renewal date on your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). If it has expired, it leaves you exposed to the risk of hefty medical bills.

If you are a UK resident, an EHIC entitles you to state-provided healthcare in European Union (EU) countries for reduced or zero cost. You can get an EHIC for free from the official NHS website. A number of non-official websites also provide EHIC processing services. However, many of these charge a fee - typically around £10 per application. You can obtain or renew an EHIC online or over the phone. The card can be renewed up to six months in advance of expiry.

UK residents who have an EHIC are entitled to free or reduced medical treatment in:

  • EU countries
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Norway
  • Switzerland

Not all UK residents are covered in Denmark, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.

Foreign office figures show that many UK travellers do not purchase travel insurance when they visit friends and family who live outside Europe. The cost if something goes wrong can be substantial. You should take out adequate travel insurance for your journey, even if you are going to an area that is familiar to you.

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