Check to see if yours is one of 4m EHIC cards expiring this year. The free European Health Insurance Card gives you access to EU (plus a few other) state-run hospitals or GPs like a local. In other words, if it’s free for them, it’s free for you. The EHIC is usable in the EU’s 27 member states, plus a few others. It is important to show your card before treatment, and keep any receipts.

In Spain state healthcare is free, but check they accept your EHIC card first as some hospitals and health centres also offer private healthcare. See

Full help & links at, but three key rules…

a) Check all your family’s cards. 4 million expired in 2012. Renew it or it is invalid.

b) Always keep it with you. Each person needs to visibly show theirs to use it.

c) EHICs are free, but don’t Google them, you may get sites charging £15. ‘Fast track’ applications don’t exist, avoid getting caught out.

Sadly, far too many are caught out through Googling ‘EHIC’ and end up paying through an unofficial website. If this has happened to you, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get your money back. However, it’s worth contacting the site straight away and asking for a full refund, just in case.

There are several ways to register for a card:

Apply on, or find more info on

Call 0845 606 2030.

Generally, it will take about 7-10 days for it to come through, though it’s worth applying early so you get it in good time for your holiday. If you have lost your card, or it has been stolen, call 0845 606 2030, or from abroad call 0044 (0)191 218 1999. For more emergency info, it’s also worth taking the free, printable Little Lifesaver travel guide ( with you when you are away.

If you’ve any questions about the application process, there’s also now an official EHIC Facebook page ( where you can get help from the EHIC NHS team.