Is your EHIC medical travel card still valid?

In 2006 the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) replaced the E111 form for health cover in Europe.

The EHIC card enables the cardholder to get free, or reduced cost, medical treatment in state operated hospitals within any European Economic Area (EEA), including Switzerland – effectively giving them the same medical treatment as a local.

The EHIC card is especially important as it covers instant, emergency medical treatment and should be kept with you at all times. Remember, the UK NHS is unique and just because you are ill it does not mean you will be given medical attention overseas like you are in the UK. All members of a travelling party need their own EHIC card – this includes babies and small children.

An EHIC card is valid for up to 5 years and this year alone around 3 million cards expire. Has yours?

Before embarking on your next Europe holiday, all travellers should check to see if their card is still valid, and if it isn't, immediately apply to renew it.

The card is free – don’t be duped by online companies that charge or that claim to be able to fast track your card for a fee. Applying for either a new one or a renewal is quick and easy – you can apply online via the NHS website or you can call 0300 3301350.

It should be noted that the EHIC card is no substitute for travel insurance, which is still essential for travel within Europe.