UK residents can apply for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) to access emergency medical care in the EU when their current EHIC card runs out.
Under a new agreement with the EU, both cards will offer equivalent healthcare protection when people are on holiday, studying or travelling for business.
This includes emergency treatment as well as treatment needed for a pre-existing condition.
The new GHIC card is free and can be obtained via the official GHIC website.
Current European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) are valid as long as they are in date, and can continue to be used when travelling to the EU.
You don’t need to apply for a GHIC until your current EHIC expires.
People should apply at least two weeks before they plan to travel to ensure their card arrives on time.
Health Minister Edward Argar said: “Our deal with the EU ensures the right for our citizens to access necessary healthcare on their holidays and travels to countries in the EU will continue.
“The GHIC is a key element of the UK’s future relationship with the EU and will provide certainty and security for all UK residents.”
If a UK resident is travelling without a card, they are still entitled to necessary healthcare, and should contact the NHS Business Services Authority (which covers the whole of the UK), which can arrange for payment should they require treatment when abroad.
EHICs from EU member states will continue to be accepted by the NHS.
It is advised that anyone travelling overseas, whether to the EU or elsewhere in the world, should take out comprehensive travel insurance.