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Complete information guide to the Global Health Insurance Card

What is GHIC?

After Brexit, the British government launched GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card), a new travel health insurance card to replace the EHIC which is used by EU citizens. If you are a UK or Irish citizen, you can apply for a GHIC entirely online.

You can use the GHIC to get access to national healthcare while you are visiting the EU. It has most of the same benefits as the EHIC, but is slightly more limited in the number of countries in which it can be used.

However, if you already have an EHIC and it has not expired, you don’t need to apply for a GHIC just yet.

Can UK Citizens Still Use EHIC After Brexit?

Yes, if you are a British citizen who still has a valid EHIC, you can continue to use it until it expires. You can still use the EHIC in all European Union countries, in the same manner as before Brexit, but you will no longer be able to use it in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.

When your current EHIC is about to expire, you can then apply for a GHIC. Additionally, some people can apply for a new UK-issued EHIC instead of a GHIC.

When Should I Apply for a GHIC?

You should apply for a GHIC only when your EHIC is about to expire or if it has already expired. However, if your EHIC has expired and you are travelling in a short period of time, you can request a provisional replacement certificate (PRC).

Who Can Apply for a GHIC?

You can apply for a GHIC if:

  • Your EHIC has expired or is about to expire.
  • You are a UK citizen and you receive public healthcare by the NHS.
  • You are a legal resident of the UK and you receive public healthcare benefits by the NHS. This includes international students, work visa holders, etc.
  • You do not receive public health insurance by an EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.

Who Can Apply for the New UK-Issued EHIC?

In some cases, you may be allowed to apply for a new EHIC issued by the UK instead of a GHIC. Unlike the GHIC, the new EHIC will also offer protection in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, same as before Brexit.

Who is eligible for the new UK EHIC?

You can get the new EHIC issued by the UK if you fall into one of the following categories:

  1. You have EU, Swiss, Norwegian, Icelandic or Liechtenstein nationality and you have been living in the UK since before 1 January 2021.
  2. You are a pensioner, who has been living in the UK since before 1 January 2021 and you have a S1 form or E121 form.
  3. You are a frontier worker (you work in the UK but live in another country) and you are eligible for form S1 or E106.
  4. You have a UK employee, but you are stationed in an EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, and have been stationed there since before 1 January 2021.
  5. You are a UK national, studying in an EU country, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, and have been studying there since before 1 January 2021.
  6. You are the dependent family member of someone from categories 1 through 4.
  7. You are a naturalized UK citizen and have dual UK-EU citizenship.

The S1 form (used to be called form E106, E109, E120, or E121) is a certificate issued to EU nationals who live in the UK but whose healthcare costs are covered by an EU country.

Can I Use the GHIC if I Move to the EU?

If you move from the UK to an EU country long-term, then you have to register with the national healthcare system in that country. You cannot continue to use the GHIC, since it is intended only for short trips.

How to Apply for a GHIC?

If you are a UK or Irish citizen living in the UK, you can apply for the GHIC through the official website of the NHS. The application process is as follows:

  1. Register or login to your NHS portal account. If you have registered for an EHIC in the past, you can use the same account.
  2. You will receive a link in your email (if registering for the first time).
  3. After you login, enter the required information, such as your name, NHS number, and address. If you have previously applied for an EHIC, the process is similar.
  4. You do not need to pay a fee.
  5. You will receive your GHIC via post within 10 days.

GHIC Application for Non-UK Citizens

If you are an international student or a legal resident in the UK, you are also eligible for a GHIC, but you cannot apply online. You have to complete the GHIC application form and mail it to the Overseas Healthcare Services of the NHS Business Services Authority. The exact mailing address is written on the application form.

You may also have to attach supporting documents such as your Leave to Remain card, proof of enrollment in university, etc. You should contact the Overseas Healthcare Services before application to request information about what other documents you have to mail along with your application form.

How Much Does the GHIC Cost?

If you apply directly with the NGS, the GHIC is issued free of charge. However, there are several private companies and websites which will help you to submit a GHIC application, and in turn, you pay them a service fee. It is not necessary to apply through one of these websites.

What Does the GHIC Cover?

The GHIC covers your necessary medical treatment when you are on a short visit in an EU country, such as if you get suddenly ill or get into an accident, and it is something which cannot wait until you return home. This includes emergency medical treatment, doctor visits, hospitalization, treatment or routine care for pre-existing conditions, routine maternity care, etc.

With a GHIC you will be held to the same regard as citizens of that country – so if they have to pay for medical treatment, so do you; if medical care is free for them, you will also be treated free of charge. It does not necessarily constitute free medical care.

  • Emergency treatment: Treatment in an ER or ambulances are usually covered by national health insurance in most EU countries, so you can use a GHIC.
  • Doctor visits: Your doctor visit is also covered by a GHIC, as long as it is a doctor that has a contract with national health insurers.
  • Hospitalization: Your hospital stay is covered, as long as you are referred to by a doctor or it is an emergency and it is a public hospital. However, remember that not all countries cover hospital stays, so you may have to pay a fee – unless you have travel insurance.
  • Dental care: You may be able to use a GHIC for dental care, as long as it is an emergency. Most countries only cover basic dental care, like fillings and tooth extractions, so for anything more complicated than that, you will likely have to pay more.
  • Maternity care: You can use your GHIC for basic maternity care, such as regular checkups and in case you have an unexpected emergency or birth. You cannot use it if you travel to the EU specifically to give birth.
  • Pre-existing conditions: You can use the GHIC for routine checkups related to a pre-existing condition and if your condition needs to be monitored.
  • Dialysis or chemotherapy: For ongoing treatment, such as chemo or kidney dialysis, you will have to make arrangements before you travel with the relevant health authorities in the EU country you are travelling to.

What Does the GHIC Not Cover?

The GHIC does not cover any of the following:

  • If you travel to the EU with the intention of receiving medical treatment.
  • If you travel to the EU with the intention of giving birth.
  • Trip-related disturbances that travel insurance usually covers.
  • Treatment in private clinics or hospitals.
  • Treatment other than in the 27 countries included in the EU.
  • Long-care healthcare.

Where Can I Use a GHIC?

You can use a GHIC in all EU Member States: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

Unlike the EHIC, you cannot use your GHIC in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland.

You must receive treatment in public hospitals or clinics to be able to use a GHIC. You cannot receive medical care in private hospitals in an EU country.

Is GHIC the Same as Travel Insurance?

No, the GHIC is not the same as travel insurance, and cannot be used as a substitute. A GHIC only covers necessary medical treatment in publicly funded hospitals or other medical facilities in the EU. It does not cover:

  • Treatment in private clinics or hospitals
  • Medical evacuation, in case you need to be flown back to the UK for treatment.
  • Repatriation.
  • Trip related disturbances, such as cancellation, interruption, or delay.
  • Loss, theft, or damage to your belongings.

To have coverage for the aforementioned items, you have to purchase travel insurance.

On the other hand, a GHIC will cover treatment for pre-existing conditions, maternity, and even ongoing treatment like chemo and dialysis, which travel insurance usually does not cover.

How to Use a GHIC Card?

When you are travelling in the EU, and you need medical treatment, you should head to a state-funded (public) clinic or hospital. Usually, it is enough to just show your GHIC card, either before or after treatment, and the medical staff in charge of payment will let you know whether you have to pay any fees.

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