Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)

A Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) gets you free or reduced cost healthcare in the European Union (EU). It’ll replace the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Here’s what you need to know.

amy smith
Amy Smith
Updated 13 January 2021  | 3 min read

Key points

  • If you already have an EHIC, it’s valid until it expires. A GHIC replaces your EHIC when it runs out
  • The GHIC gets you free or reduced rate medical care while in the EU. You can apply for a GHIC through the NHS
  • You’ll still need travel insurance even with a GHIC or EHIC
  • Each person travelling will need their own card

What’s a GHIC?

A Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) lets you access state provided medical treatment while abroad. It’s designed to replace the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) now the UK has left the EU.

Unlike the EHIC, the GHIC only covers you in EU countries, so you won’t be covered in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.

What’s covered by my GHIC?

You’ll be able to get necessary state-provided medical care for free, or discounted, while you're travelling outside the UK.

This includes treatment for pre-existing medical conditions, chronic illnesses – for example, dialysis – and routine maternity care, as long as you weren’t going abroad to give birth.

Your GHIC won’t cover private healthcare, so make sure you’re using a state facility.

Do I still need travel insurance if I’ve got a GHIC?

Yes, a GHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance.

Your GHIC won't cover any private healthcare, or repatriation back to the UK.

As most EU countries don't have free medical care like the NHS, so you might only be able to access private treatment while abroad. And without travel insurance, you'd have to pay for it.

It’s a good idea to buy travel insurance with medical cover before your holiday. This is because it also covers things like your trip being cut short, changed or cancelled, and loss or theft of your belongings.

When taking out travel insurance, make sure you check:

  • the level of medical cover it has
  • if it includes travel disruption cover
  • the terms and conditions

How do I get a GHIC?

GHIC’s aren’t issued automatically. You need to apply for one through the NHS website – it’s free.

Avoid unofficial sites offering to apply for a GHIC on your behalf. They’ll charge a fee for their service, and might be a bogus company.

The process is easy and you don’t need to pay for any help with it.

Each person that’s travelling will need to have their own GHIC or EHIC.

What about my EHIC?

If you have a valid and in-date EHIC, you can still use it until it expires. Once it runs out, you can apply for a GHIC to replace it.

You don't need to apply for both an EHIC and a GHIC.

There are a few groups that are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, who might need to apply for a new UK EHIC instead of a GHIC.

You can check if you're eligible or apply for a new UK EHIC on the NHS website.

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