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If you’re planning to travel to Europe, you probably know you need a GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card). For most travellers, this has replaced the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). However, if you already have an EHIC and it’s still in-date, you don’t need to replace it until it expires.

What is the GHIC?

The GHIC gives you access to state healthcare throughout the EU. Depending on the country you’re visiting, this can mean at a reduced cost or, in some cases, free. However, you may still need to pay for some services that you’d receive for free on the NHS at home.

The card is available to most UK travellers and it doesn’t cost anything to apply. If you need medical treatment in the EU the GHIC could save you money, and using it can remove the excess for medical claims on your Travel Insurance.

What does the GHIC cover?

The GHIC card gives you access to healthcare throughout the EU for medically necessary treatment. This is any treatment you could not reasonably expect to wait for until you are back in the UK.

This includes visits to A&E or complications relating to a pre-existing condition, but you won’t be covered if you go abroad to seek treatment.

Why you still need Travel Insurance

While a GHIC gives you access to state healthcare, it doesn’t cover all the medical costs you may incur. It also won’t protect you against other losses that Travel Insurance can help with.

The GHIC won’t cover you for:

  • the costs of rescue and repatriation (bringing you home after an accident or illness)
  • lost or stolen property such as passports, baggage or precious items
  • losses from trip cancellation, curtailment and interruption
  • extra travel and accommodation costs due to illness
  • any medical treatment needed outside of the EU

AllClear Travel Insurance also includes access to a 24/7 emergency assistance team, who can speak to the medical staff wherever you are and help make sure you get the right treatment.

How to apply for a GHIC

The easiest way to apply for a card is via the NHS website. You can also check the website for further information about the GHIC and what it offers travellers.

Some websites charge you to apply for a GHIC, but the card is free, there are no fast tracks, and there’s no advantage to using these sites.

As part of the application, you’ll need to provide your:

  • full name
  • address
  • date of birth
  • National Insurance or NHS number (England and Wales)
  • CHI number (Scotland)
  • Health and Care number (Northern Ireland)

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between GHIC and EHIC?

The GHIC and EHIC work in the same way, however the GHIC is NOT valid in the following countries:

  • Norway
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein

Which countries accept the GHIC?

The GHIC is accepted in all EU countries and Switzerland. Please see the complete list of countries below.

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

When should I apply for the GHIC?

You can apply at any time, though make sure you allow enough time for your application to be processed before you travel. 

How long does a GHIC last?

A GHIC is valid for 5 years, and the card shows the expiry date. Be sure to check your expiry date when arranging a trip.

Written by: Russell Wallace | Travel Insurance Expert
Last Updated: 8 March 2024

† Based on Trustpilot reviews of all companies in the Travel Insurance Company category that have over 70,000 reviews as of January 2024. AllClear Gold Plus achieved a Which? Best Buy.