We’ve all done it – booked a holiday, gone to check in online and suddenly realised that our passport has expired and we’ve forgotten to organise insurance. Luckily an emergency appointment at the Passport Office and a few hours online will be enough to sort out those two issues. However, what about that EHIC letter which has been at the back of the drawer for years? Is it still valid?
It’s not widely advertised, but EHIC is only valid for five years from the date of issue. The expiration date of the card will be printed on it. With the uncertainty over Brexit many people are unsure whether it’s worth extending their EHIC for another five years as we are likely to be out of the EU well before that. The EHIC will continue to be valid right up to the day on which the formal leaving documents are signed, so the short answer is that it is definitely worth renewing your EHIC now, knowing that whatever the outcome of Brexit, the system will probably have to change. The same strategy should be used when applying for a new EHIC – it’s still worth applying even though the system may change in a couple of years.
How Do I Remember When to Renew?
If you’ve used a third party agency to help you through the EHIC application process, often they offer a reminders service as part of the deal. They will call or email you when your EHIC only has six months left on it, and share information about the easiest way to get it renewed. If you’ve done the initial application yourself, then the NHS will not prompt you when it’s time to think about renewing your EHIC and won’t give you any automatic help in completing the application. Set up a reminder on your phone, keep a slip of paper in the back of your passport, or come up with your own method for remembering when it’s time to renew. This can get complicated when you have several members of the family all using EHIC, all of which expire at different times. Would be keeping track of everything on a spreadsheet be too much?
Delays in Renewing
If you’ve left things to the last minute and are practically packing your bags to go to the airport when you discover your EHIC has expired, don’t panic. Send your EHIC away to get renewed, but keep a note of the number and the contact details for the Overseas Health Department of the NHS. If the worst happens and you have to be admitted to a hospital in an EHIC country, then you can contact the NHS, quote the number of the EHIC and other details which you are asked for, and they will supply a treatment certificate which can be used to cover you temporarily. Another good idea is to take a photocopy or digital photograph of your EHIC on your phone, so that you have the details to hand should you need them.