Do I need a Universal Health Card to go on vacation this year and is it free?

Now that we have left the EU, the European Health Insurance Card is gradually being replaced by the Universal Health Insurance Card. Martyn James explained

The European Health Insurance Card has changed
The European Health Insurance Card has changed

Hidden in your wallet or purse may be an old EHIC or E111 card.

These cards – the European Health Insurance Card and its predecessor – allows UK tourists to have limited health coverage when visiting countries in the European Union and a few other countries like Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.

Now that the EHIC card is a useful – and free – must-have when traveling abroad, it should never be used as a substitute for travel insurance.

What your insurance card gives you varies from country to country and generally allows some state health care services for free or at a reduced price.

Many churchgoers have gone to a shopkeeper after wandering into a private hospital unknowingly and being billed. Regardless, it’s well worth traveling with the card handy.

Now that we have left the EU, the last EHIC card will no longer exist. Check the expiry date on the card – your card will be valid until that date.

You still need travel insurance – wherever you are


Getty/EyeEm Image)

The good news is that there will be an alternative, the GHIC card. GHIC – Universal Health Insurance Card – has just been announced by the Government and – forewarned – is very new so the details are still being carefully prepared.

The new regulations are a bit complicated, so to put it simply, don’t assume that the old EHIC or the new GHIC will apply to you in every country, so check the government website before traveling.

Confusingly, if you apply now, you go through the old process. This is How to submit.

Now, if you think you can submit a sneaky application and get an extended EHIC card, I’m afraid the system will figure this out and make you apply for a replacement card. You need a National Insurance number to apply.

A word of warning. Our colleagues at MoneySavingExpert have highlighted that there are a number of fake websites that appear to be official but are charging a fee to help you with the registration process.

This is legal, but unethical. So just go through the official Government website. The card and process is free, so if someone asks for cash, you’ll know it’s not legit.

Oh, and another thing. As is the case with all official documents (I’m thinking driver’s licenses and passports in particular) there is currently a delay in the issuance of these cards. So sign up today.

Should I still buy travel insurance?

Even if the EHIC/GHIC card is covered in the country you are visiting, it is not a substitute for travel insurance, which is even more essential if you are traveling abroad.

It has been a tumultuous year for the tourism sector, with new policies at times completely exhausted.

However, the good news is that you can still get policies, and many of them will cover you for Covid – but only if you’re diagnosed (not just showing symptoms).

Travel insurance documents are lengthy and complicated, but it’s really important that you read the important information documents to know exactly what you’re covered and beyond the limit/claim indemnify.

Don’t forget to bring forms with you if you travel – and keep your emergency claim and contract numbers on your phone or email so you can quickly find them if you need them.

Don’t just assume you’ll be covered for all things Covid related abroad.

Check to find the entry requirements for the country you are visiting and what happens if you test positive while abroad.

There’s a huge amount of variation between countries – and things change quickly. So follow the directions for your destination carefully.

Resolver can help you with all your holiday and travel complaints and problems for free at Do I need a Universal Health Card to go on vacation this year and is it free?

Fry Electronics Team

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