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Europeans living in the UK to get new EHICs – but cover for most Brits remains uncertain

Millions of EU citizens who live in the UK will soon be able to apply for a new European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which will give them access to free or discounted healthcare across Europe next year – but the situation for most Brits still remains unclear with less than a month to go until the end of the Brexit transition period.

The EHIC is free and gives you access to free or discounted medical care in all EU countries, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. EHICs have remained valid during the Brexit transition period, which ends on 31 December 2020, but their future is less certain after this date, and depends upon the outcome of talks between the UK and EU.

However, certain agreements have already been made which mean various groups of people WILL definitely continue to have EHIC cover – including EU citizens who live in the UK, and UK state pensioners who live in the EU – at the end of the transition period.

See our 21 Brexit need-to-knows for full info on how house prices, visas, flights, consumer rights and more will be affected by Brexit.

Who'll be covered by the EHIC after the end of this year?

As things stand, if you're British and live in the UK, your EHIC may not be valid after the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020. We simply don't yet know what'll happen next year.

But we do know that some people who are eligible to keep their existing healthcare rights under the Withdrawal Agreement signed by the UK and EU will be able to apply for a new EHIC, which will ensure they're covered in 2021. The people in this situation are:

  • European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss nationals residing in the UK on 31 December 2020.
  • UK state pensioners living in the EEA or Switzerland on 31 December 2020.
  • UK students studying in the EEA or Switzerland on 31 December 2020.
  • People who are 'frontier workers' (ie, people who are EU, EEA or Swiss citizens and are employed or self-employed in the UK but live elsewhere) on 31 December 2020, for as long as they continue to be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.

If you fall into one of these categories, then the Government says you should apply for a new EHIC even if you already have one – it's warned your current EHIC may stop being valid on 31 December 2020. We're checking if there are any exceptions to this though, and will update this story when we hear back.

I'm entitled to a new EHIC – how can I apply?

People in the groups outlined above need to apply for a new EHIC via a portal on the NHS website.

At the moment, you can only use the portal if you have an S1 certificate (a type of certificate for UK pensioners living abroad) or are a student. But others will be able to apply later in December.

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