Travellers have been unable to apply for or renew their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) after a technical fault caused the online and telephone application systems to crash. However, understands the issue is not related to the recent referendum result.

People trying to access the EHIC online application system have received a message stating that the service is "currently unavailable" and that they should try again later. The service has been down over the weekend but is expected to be fixed soon.

The EHIC is a free card which gives travellers access to state-provided healthcare in countries in the EU, those in the European Economic Area, and Switzerland (which isn't in either). The EHIC is valid for five years from date of issue and usually takes between seven and 10 days to arrive once you've applied for one.

The organisation that oversees the EHIC scheme in the UK, the NHS Business Services Authority, has told us it's been experiencing problems with a number of its applications, which are due to "suspected hardware issues".

A spokesperson denied the issues had anything to do with increased demand following the Brexit outcome on Friday.

The spokesperson says: "The problems with the EHIC application are in no way connected to the EU referendum or increased demand for the service, but they have affected the telephone application as well as the online form.

"To ensure the access problems that some customers experienced over the past few days are fixed, we will be taking the portal down at midnight tonight for routine maintenance. The site will be up and running again by 8am on Tuesday 28 June."

Will I still be able to use my EHIC card once Brexit is finalised?

The vote may affect access to the EHIC in future but nothing is likely to happen until Brexit has been completed, which is expected to take at least two years. For now travellers can and should carry on using the EHIC scheme as normal (once it's up and running again, for those renewing or applying).

Remember the EHIC card is free and you should never pay for it. Plus if you've got one, check whether it's still in date. Full help is available in our free EHIC guide.