The days of applying for official documentation to cover the whole family are long gone. In 1998, the government changed the rules to stop children travelling on their parents’ passports, and a few years later, changes were made to the old E111 European health insurance scheme. The replacement for E111 is called EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) and each member of the family requires their own card, whatever their age and circumstances. Applying for a child’s EHIC card isn’t as hard as you might think.
Can’t the child apply for their own card?
By law, an adult has to apply for the EHIC on behalf of a child in their care. In most cases, the person applying for the card will be the mother or father of the child concerned. This person is known as the “main applicant”. In order to apply for EHIC on behalf of a child, the adult must be resident in the UK and have a National Insurance, CHI or NHS number. Children over the age of 16, even if they are still in full time education, have to apply for their own EHIC.
Applying online for EHIC for children is not more complex than making an adult application, but will require having a few more documents at hand. You’ll need to be able to supply the child’s full name and date of birth. Take care to ensure that names are spelled correctly, and if a child has a “known as” name as well as their official name, make sure that the name on the EHIC card matches the name in their passport. This will minimise opportunities for confusion overseas or the possibility of the EHIC being rejected as the holder’s identity cannot be verified. The applicant will also have to give the child’s contact address, remembering that only people with a permanent UK address are entitled to an EHIC. Children living on the Isle of Man or in the Channel Islands cannot get EHIC cover.
NHS, CHI or NI number
Parents or guardians also have to submit information to conform their entitlement to EHIC. This can be either a National Insurance number, a CHI number or a NHS number.
- National Insurance number – this is in the format AB 12 12 12 A and will be printed on employer pay slips, P45 or P60 or any correspondence from HMRC.
- CHI number – In Scotland, patients in the NHS are allocated a CHI number. This is usually your date of birth followed by four other digits. This number can be found on any letters about hospital appointments, or ask your GP practice to write it down for you.
- NHS number – In England and Wales, everyone is allocated a NHS number. This is a unique, 10 digit number. Babies are allocated NHS numbers in hospital. A child’s NHS number will be found on the “red book” giving details of their immunisations, or can be obtained from the GP.
- H&C Number – In Northern Ireland, the number used to identify patients is the Health and Care number, or H&C. It is also a 10 digit number and will be used on appointment letters or printed on medical cards.