Britons had expected to lose the E111 card, widely known as the EHIC card, when the Brexit transition period ended on 31 December and the UK left the EU. However, in new details released today, it has been confirmed that while the card itself will no longer be valid for UK citizens, they will get “reciprocal healthcare cover”.
In a Summary Explainer of the Brexit deal on the Gov.UK website, the Government gave some information on accessing healthcare in the EU after Brexit.
They wrote: “Individuals will be able to have access to a range of social security benefits, including reciprocal healthcare cover and an uprated state pension.
“On healthcare, where the UK or an EU Member State is responsible for the healthcare of an individual, they will be entitled to reciprocal healthcare cover.
“This includes certain categories of cross-border workers and state pensioners who retire to the UK or to the EU.
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“In addition, the Protocol will ensure necessary healthcare provisions – akin to those provided by the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme – continue.
“This means individuals who are temporarily staying in another country, for example a UK national who is in an EU Member State for a holiday, will have their necessary healthcare needs met for the period of their stay.”
It had previously been thought Britons holidaying in Europe, and Europeans in the UK, would have to pay for all of their healthcare needs.
The UK Government urged Britons to ensure they had adequate travel insurance – something which is of course still important.
The other major change for Britons heading to Europe will be the validity of their passport.
“Until 1 January 2021, you can continue to travel to Europe with your UK passport until it expires,” explains the Gov.uk website.
“New rules will apply for travel to Europe from 1 January 2021.”
Travellers must ensure they have enough time left on their passport before expiry.
Britons can apply to renew their passport either online via the Gov.uk website, or by post either in person at a local Post Office or by using the Post Office check and Send Service.
It usually takes up to three weeks to renew or replace a passport online. It may take longer for a first adult passport.
However, there have been some extra wait times recorded in the last year due to a backlog amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Do not book travel unless your passport meets the entry requirements of the country you’re travelling to,” adds the Government warning.