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20th January 2021

Essential travel documents — remember your Global Health Insurance Card

Motorists planning a post Covid trip to Europe have a new item to pack in their essential travel documents, the Global Health Insurance Card.

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Motorists planning a trip into Europe now have something new to remember in their essential travel documents.

Whether you are travelling for work or leisure you will need to pack your new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) in your essential travel documents. The GHIC replaces the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which is being phased out following Brexit on 1 January, 2021.

However, your EHIC will remain valid and entitle you to medical treatment abroad until it reaches its expiry date. At that stage you must apply for a replacement GHIC and stow it in your luggage with your other essential travel documents.   

The Department of Health and Social Care has said both cards offer equivalent protection for ’emergency and medically-necessary healthcare needs’ when a UK resident is in the EU on a temporary stay, for business or pleasure.

But rather than continuing with membership of the EHIC scheme, British travellers will have access to free or reduced-rate medical treatment only in the EU27 – not the associated countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. 

GHICs can be obtained from www.nhs.uk/GHIC and are free of charge. Travellers are advised to apply at least two weeks before their next trip.

They should bear in mind that while the GHIC gives you access to medical care, it is not intended as a replacement for travel insurance. Those visiting Europe under their own speed or on a package trip are urged to make alternative travel insurance arrangements. 

essential travel documents

Other essential travel documents

When driving in Europe other essential travel documents you will need include:

  • An International Driving Permit (IDP), which allows you to drive in countries where a UK licence alone is not sufficient, will probably need to be included among your essential travel documents. An IDP can be obtained over the counter from the Post Office for £5,50. There are three types of IDP, each allowing you to drive in different countries so, if you are touring Europe, you may need more than one. You can use the Post Office IDP checker tool to find out if you will need a permit, which permit you will need, and what supporting documentation you will need to supply with your application. 
  • A Green Card International Motor Insurance Certificate which guarantees you hold the necessary third-party motor insurance cover required for the country or countries you will be visiting in Europe. To find out how to get a Green Card, contact the experts at Sterling insurance on 0344 381 9990.
  • Your essential travel documents should also include your passport, which must be valid for at least six months, your driving licence and vehicle registration documents and your travel insurance documents.
  • You may also be asked by border security to show your return ferry or Chunnel crossing tickets, and your accommodation booking confirmation, so these too should be kept handy with your essential travel documents.

More essentials for driving in Europe

It is also compulsory to display a GB sticker and carry a spare set of bulbs, a working breathalyser (two to be on the safe side), a high-vis vest for the driver and each passenger, a first aid kit and emergency breakdown triangles.

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