Remember to renew your EHIC card

HEAVEN forbid, but just in case, have you still got your E111 form if you need health care while you're off skiing?
Whoops! They've been invalid since 2006 – yes, I was amazed – so you need to get its replacement right away and make sure you keep it in date.

What you need is the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which gives you access to state-provided healthcare (not private clinics!) in all EU countries and Switzerland at a reduced cost, or sometimes free, if you become ill or have an accident during your stay.

Everyone UK resident should have the EHIC and carry it with them abroad, but please remember to check the expiry date on the card before you travel – they are valid for five years, but they do run out.

There are several ways to apply for the  EHIC, with the quickest way online at  – and it's free.  You can also get the card free  via the NHS, but do beware, because other unofficial websites may charge you to apply . . . and they're not cheap.

You will need your full name; date of birth; National Insurance or NHS number (CHI number in Scotland or Health and Care Number in Northern Ireland). Your card will normally arrive within seven days if you apply using the official process.

If you're having difficulties with the online application form, you want to update your personal details or you need to replace a lost or stolen card, call the automated EHIC application service on 0845 606 2030.

For general enquiries about the EHIC or to claim refunds, call the Overseas Healthcare Team on 0191 218 1999. If you're calling from abroad, ring +44 191 218 1999.

Stay healthy and don’t pay the price of being poorly on holiday.

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