What British Tourists Should Do If Their EHIC Expires Before They Visit Spain

Spain is the most popular holiday destination for British tourists. When booking your flights and choosing the perfect hotel for your next trip to Spain you should also take the time out to add travel insurance to your trip too.

Comprehensive travel insurance is strongly recommended for all travellers by the British government. But British travellers are also eligible for free or reduced rate national health treatment in many countries, including in Spain.

Here’s what you need to know about this and how it will impact you:

What Is The EHIC Health Insurance Card?

Before the UK left the EU, British citizens could apply for a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This was a reciprocal EU-wide agreement that would allow Britons to access state healthcare in EU countries. Treatment would be available either for free or at a reduced rate: usually at the same rates that citizens in the same country would pay for their care.

In the post-Brexit world this scheme was replaced by the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). Just like the EHIC this card will give British citizens access to medical treatment at the same rates as local citizens in the EU country they are visiting. Despite being called a global card, just like the EHIC this card can only be used in the 27 EU countries. The card could also be used in the non-EU countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland bit this is no longer the case.

If you don’t carry this card, and you don’t have comprehensive medical insurance, then you could face a pretty significant bill if any health problems arise while you’re traveling in Spain.

What Do Britons Need To Know Now?

 If you already have an EHIC card then you should check its expiration date. Your card is nothing more than a colorful piece of plastic if it’s expired! According to the Martin Lewis’ MoneySavingExpert website over four million EHICs are set to expire in 2024.

If you’re one of those 4 million Brits then you will need to apply for a GHIC card before you travel to Spain this year, and you should do that as soon as possible. Your EHIC is still valid until it expires even though the government aren’t issuing any more of these cards and they have a validity period of 5 years. You can check your cards expiration by checking the box printed on the bottom right hand side of the card. 

When Should I Apply For A GHIC Card?

You can apply for your GHIC card up to 9 months before your current card expires, regardless of whether the card you currently hold is a GHIC or an EHIC card. If you have already booked your travel plans and your card expires this year, then you are advised to complete your application as soon as possible.

New cards may take up to 15 days to arrive by post after the application is submitted, but the NHS advises applying as far in advance as you can because backlogs can often build. You can apply for your GHIC card on the NHS website, and it will always be free of charge. Beware of website offering to process your application for a fee, as there is no need to pay for this process.

All you need to complete your application is your full name, address, date of birth, and either the National Insurance or NHS number. Every individual needs their own GHIC card, including all adults and children in your party.

Why Do You Need A GHIC Card?

The GHIC Card is vital as it covers various medical treatments if you fall ill while you’re on your holiday. The card will cover emergency treatment, A&E visits and routine medical care as well as treatment for long-term or pre-existing conditions. It doesn’t cover any kind of medical tourism or treatment that you plan to have overseas.

But it’s important to note that your GHIC should work in conjunction with your travel insurance policy, not instead of it.  Both the government and the NHS recommend having both types of coverage before going on holiday. Your GHIC will only cover healthcare and won’t cover the many other elements that travel insurance covers such as cancellation, delays, baggage loss, and theft.

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