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Everything You Need To Know About The GHIC

Avid travellers amongst us will be well aware of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), and most likely have made use of it whilst away on holiday over the years. Some however may not be aware that in January 2021 the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) was launched to directly replace the EHIC as a result of the UK’s Brexit deal.

EHICs were unveiled back in 2004 and gave the cardholder access to state healthcare in the EU on the exact same terms as local citizens, so were seen as an essential for holidaymakers enjoying trips around the continent. Now the UK has left the European Union, we’re unable to use the EHIC and must instead utilise the GHIC, but how do the two differ? How do you apply for the new GHIC and what are the main advantages of having one? Read on for a round up of everything you need to know…

What is a GHIC?

As with the EHIC, UK citizens can use the GHIC to gain access to state provided healthcare, both emergency and necessary, when holidaying in a country within the EU. This will either be at a reduced cost or completely free of charge – whatever the terms that are also offered to locals. It is important to note that children need their own individual card too as they cannot be shared amongst family members.

You are deemed eligible for the GHIC if you are a UK resident, a non-UK citizen but resident of the UK or if you are a UK student going to study in the EU.

What are the main differences between the EHIC and the GHIC?

They are virtually the same, however one main difference to be aware of is that, unlike the EHIC, the GHIC doesn’t extend to countries within the European Economic Area (EEA) that are not part of the EU – this includes Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

You will however be eligible for necessary medical treatment in Norway by showing your UK passport due to amended version of the 1991 Convention on Social Security and Protocol on Medical Treatment between the UK and Norwegian governments.

I still have a EHIC, will it be valid?

You may find that your existing EHIC is still in date, in which case you can continue to use it until it expires. You wouldn’t however be able to extend it beyond the date of expiry and would need to apply for GHIC after that point.

Do I still need travel insurance if I have a GHIC?

Yes, absolutely! The GHIC does give you access to some healthcare free of charge however it does not cover you for all medical costs, so you still need extensive travel insurance for things like private medical healthcare, repatriation or mountain rescue when skiing.

Booking travel insurance also protects you against a number of other things such as having to cancel or cut short a trip, lost luggage or should you test positive for Covid either before you’re date of departure of whilst you are away.

We’ve actually launched a brand new, dedicated travel insurance booking system which makes it quick and easy to find quotes ahead of your next holiday. There is also a separate system for those with pre-existing medical conditions, as well as our handy FAQs section for even more information on this important aspect of travelling.

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How do I apply for a GHIC?

You can do so very easily on the NHS website, where it’s free to submit an application. All you need to do is provide your full name, address, date of birth and National Insurance or NHS number.

Your card should arrive within a week or two of applying, so make sure you leave plenty of time to fill in your application before your trip – don’t leave it until the last minute!>/p?

How do I use my GHIC?

All you need to do is simply show your card when requesting treatment in an EU country to be entitled to healthcare for free or at a reduced cost, so make sure to keep it on your person. It’s important to note that it is however valid for just the standard state healthcare and not private healthcare.

What happens if I forget my GHIC or if I’m asked to pay for treatment?

Dependent on the individual laws in the country that you’re visiting, you may be asked to pay for your medical treatment in advance and then claim for a refund. Don’t panic, just make sure you keep all receipts and paperwork.

If you don’t have your GHIC card with you whilst away, or even simply just leave it back at the hotel, you can get a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) which acts as a temporary substitute. You’ll need to call Overseas Healthcare Services to request this and provide your National Insurance number, your name, address, date of birth and the name of the treatment facility.


Have we answered all of your questions relating to the GHIC? If not, tweet @icelollyholiday and we will do our best to advise!