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How will Brexit affect your EHIC card? Rules explained

Amadu A Sesay

Jan. 18, 2020

WITH THE Brexit deadline approaching, what does it mean for travel for Britons visiting the EU?
For many travelling to Europe after 31 January, there are concerns about how they will be affected due to the number of changes that will apply to Britons visiting Europe after Brexit .
One of these concerns include the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and whether it’ll still be valid following Brexit.
How long is the card valid for?
This varies from country to country so it’s best to check with your local health authority. However, while the EHIC is valid until 31 January, the government has advised that Britons get the appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before going abroad as the card may not be valid in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
“It’s particularly important you get travel insurance with the right cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition,” states Gov.co.uk.
“This is because the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing conditions, while many travel insurance policies do not.”
If the UK leaves with a no-deal Brexit, Britons in need of medical help will have to pay or make sure they have adequate travel insurance before they travel.
However, if the UK does leave with a deal and enters the transition period at the end of the month, travel requirements and arrangements will remain the same until at least the end of December 2020.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive, said: “The UK is primed to enter a new Brexit phase from 31 January, when trade talks begin, and when it does nothing will change when it comes to travel.
“This means that valid passports can still be used, EHIC cards will still be valid and the same gates can be used at border checkpoints.
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“People can continue to make their travel plans with confidence that things won’t change until at least the end of 2020.
Will Britons need extra travel insurance?
During the transition period, it’s advised that Britons get the appropriate travel insurance. Travel insurance policies are designed to provide cover for various eventualities, including medical expenses, trips being cut short or cancelled, or loss and theft of possessions.
Gov.co.uk advise: “When you travel, make sure you take details of your insurance policy with you, including your policy number and the emergency assistance telephone number provided by your insurer.
“Give a copy of your policy details to the people you’re travelling with and friends or family back home, in case they need to contact your insurance company on your behalf.”
While it's advised to get travel insurance now, the EHIC card has never been a replacement for travel insurance and travellers should get insurance whether the EHIC remains valid after 31 January.
Earlier this week, Martin Lewis appeared on Good Morning Britain to warn Britons about the urgency of purchasing travel insurance. While many people wait until just before their departure to invest in a policy, Mr Lewis has stated this is not a wise decision.
He explained: “January is the biggest holiday booking month, and if you’ve just book yours, make sure you’ve sorted your travel insurance out too.
“You need cover from the moment you go, yet far too many people book a holiday and then leave the cover until later.”
Can I renew or get an EHIC card?
Britons can still apply for an EHIC card or renew their current card six months before their existing one runs out.
Renewal applications need to be filled out via the EHIC website and it’s free to apply for.
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