Britain is currently due to leave the European Union (EU) on 29 March 2019, so what is likely to happen to EHIC from that date?
At present, the EU & UK have come to an agreement that there should be a transition period between 29 March 2019 – 31 December 2020 to iron out the details of our future in Europe. Until that time, here in the UK, we still have the same rights and guarantees as before so, for the time being, no change on this front.
As for our passports, they will be getting a makeover and returning to blue after Brexit, with promises of the new passport being the most secure travel document in the world! No action needs to be taken until our passports are due for renewal, as this will be a phased approach.
But have you thought about your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)? Is it still valid?
We don’t like to think about things going wrong on holiday. We work hard all year to save our pennies for that all-important, eagerly awaited break. But the reality is that sometimes we fall ill while on holiday or have an accident that requires medical attention.
The EHIC, formerly known as the E111, is a free card that entitles travellers to state-provided healthcare or emergency treatment within the European Economic Area (EEA) country they are visiting. Please check your EHIC is still valid as they do carry expiry dates, so make sure you check your card before you travel.
EHIC is actually tied to the EEA countries, plus Switzerland, not the EU, so it may not be affected at all. Either way, keep hold of that card for the time being and let’s hope it doesn’t become a thing of the past, as it is a very valuable piece of plastic!
Do I need travel insurance too?
Yes. The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and does not cover private medical healthcare or costs. It also will not cater for people travelling abroad specifically to obtain medical treatment. It’s worth noting that EHIC is also not valid on cruises.
You need travel insurance for rescue and repatriation. For example, if you need to be air lifted from a mountain, or are unable to board a commercial flight and need a private flight back to the UK, travel insurance would be necessary to avoid an enormous bill. It also covers lost or stolen possessions and cancellations.
It is important to have both EHIC and a valid travel insurance policy in place before you travel to ensure you have all the cover you might need.