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Will Your EHIC Card Still Be Valid After Brexit?

AllClear Team
Last updated 25 March 2021


The UK has officially left the EU, and from January 1st 2021 many new rules came into play! And so, it’s important to keep up-to-date on what’s going to change. One major change for holidaymakers is the validation of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and the launching of the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).

So, we’ve put together a guide of the latest updates regarding EHIC and other aspects of travel that are due to change, such as mobile-phone roaming charges and pet passports. We will also be outlining why it’s now essential for you to buy comprehensive travel insurance – so that you can travel with peace of mind! 

What is EHIC and Will It Still Be Valid After Brexit?

The EHIC card enables UK citizens travelling to a country within the EU to seek emergency treatment or necessary medical care for the same cost as a resident in the visiting country before returning home.

Following Brexit, on the 24th December 2020, the UK and the EU reached a trade deal. It says that all EHIC cards issued before the end of 2020 will be valid until their expiry date. Once an EHIC card has expired or is cancelled, it will be replaced in the form of a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). 

However, before going on holiday, the Government website advises that you should buy travel insurance with healthcare cover. It warns that it is “particularly important” to get the right cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

The UK launches Global Health Insurance Card

As of the 11th  January 2021, UK residents will now be able to apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card.

The new agreement ensures the rights of UK residents to access emergency medical care when travelling in the EU.

The GHIC will cover chronic or existing illnesses and routine maternity care as well as emergencies just like the EHIC. GHIC is free via the official website. Any website charging a fee or that is not the official website may be a scam.

One key difference  since that trade agreement, is that neither the EHIC nor the new GHIC now provides cover in four countries that used to offer reciprocal arrangements for British travellers: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, which are in the EEA, but not the EU. Healthcare in Norway and Switzerland, in particular, can be very expensive, so it’s vital to make sure you are properly insured when you travel there.

The UK is also in talks with countries that are part of the EEA regarding further ongoing co-operation with non-EU states.  cover under the GHIC arrangements. During office hours you can call them on 0191 218 1999.

Why Medical Travel Insurance is Essential 

Over 20% of ALL holidaymakers have needed at some stage to seek medical treatment when abroad. And of course, the likelihood of this can rise if you have a pre-existing medical condition. So the risks of travelling without comprehensive travel insurance are very real…

Although the EHIC card will remain valid until it expires or is cancelled if you choose to travel without travel insurance you could still be facing huge medical expenses should the worse happen. To give you an example of a claim, surgery in Greece which needs your repatriation back to the UK, could result in a bill of up to £25,000. 

According to ‘Which?’, UK holidaymakers travelling in the EU could face hospital bills of £2,000 for food poisoning or £14,000 for a heart attack, if they travel without insurance.

An estimated one in five UK holidaymakers doesn’t take out travel insurance before going abroad, according to ABTA research from 2019, meaning millions of people are at risk of having to pay these medical fees out of their own pockets.

Buying the right level of cover can also protect you from medical emergencies and cancellations related to COVID-19. 

How Do you Make Sure you Buy the Right Level of Cover 

It’s understandable that in the past travel insurance hasn’t always been at the forefront of our minds when we’re planning our dream holidays. However, now you know that it is vital for your next trip – we’re here to help you buy the right level of cover.

To ensure that you are fully covered – always do the following; 

  • Declare any/all pre-existing medical conditions that you have 
  • Declare any treatment you may be receiving or have received from a doctor or medical professional 
  • Ensure that your cover includes; expenses for medical emergencies, cancellations and curtailment (cutting your trip short), damage, lost or stolen possessions and repatriation costs 
  • Ensure that the policy you’re considering includes enhanced COVID-19 cover 
  • If you are going on an active holiday – ensure that any extreme or sporting activities are included i.e winter sports cover
  • If you’re taking your electronic gadgets with you such as your phone, camera or iPad – consider adding gadget cover 

How AllClear Can Help

As a specialist medical travel insurance provider – AllClear can help provide you with comprehensive and affordable travel insurance which can be tailored to suit you and your medical needs. We believe everyone deserves to have the opportunity to travel and so our policies include superior COVID-19 cover† with no upper age limit – meaning you can travel anywhere^ at any time. To travel with peace of mind – Get an AllClear Quote today! 

Mobile Roaming Charges Post Brexit 

UK residents have been able to enjoy the use of data and minutes without roaming charges since 2017 while holidaying within European Union countries. Following Brexit, many holidaymakers were concerned that roaming tariffs would be reinstated. 

And now that a trade deal has been reached – UK residents concerns have been somewhat confirmed.  The UK’s trade deal with the EU does not say that the ban on additional roaming charges will continue. This may mean that some operators will bring back some tariffs and therefore it is advised that anyone travelling to countries within the EU should check their mobile phone provider’s roaming charges. 

However, the trade deal does state that both sides will encourage operators to have “transparent and reasonable rates” for roaming.

Pet travel to Europe Post Brexit 

As a nation of pet lovers, it’s understandable that so many of us want to take our pets with us on holiday. While you will still be able to take them to countries within the EU, from 1st January 2021, the steps to do so are changing: 

You won’t need a pet passport anymore but you will need an animal health certificate (AHC) instead. You must also make sure your pet meets the following requirements: 

  • You must have your dog, cat or ferret microchipped.
  • Vaccinate your dog, cat or ferret against rabies – your pet must be at least 12 weeks old before it can be vaccinated.
  • Wait 21 days after the primary vaccination before travel.
  • Visit your vet to get an AHC for your pet, no more than 10 days before travel to the EU.

For more information, click here.

*Price based on one person aged 50 travelling to Italy for one week in two weeks time with no medical conditions. Price correct at the time of publishing (November 2018).

^Providing the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO, formerly known as FCO) or the World Health Organisation (WHO) is not advising against all but essential travel to the destination that you have selected.

† subject to policy terms and conditions.

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