Holiday warning: What new Brexit changes mean for your EHIC and what you must do

Holidays: Mike Gooley gives advice on booking travel in 2021

Holidays have already had plenty to contend with this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, with Brexit proper rapidly approaching it’s important to know what this will mean for travel, too, and to follow the latest travel advice. Britons have long had the use of an EHIC while the UK was a member of the European Union.

“The EHIC is a reciprocal arrangement between member countries – EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – to provide free or discounted state healthcare to each other’s visitors,” Seamus McCauley, Editor at Holiday Extras told

However, this is not to last. “The UK benefited from the scheme both as a member of the EU and during the transition period after we left,” said McCauley.

“From January 1, 2021, we will no longer be part of the scheme and UK visitors will no longer be able to rely on it.”

According to Holiday Extras, research undertaken in the autumn showed one-third of British travellers are unaware EHIC changes are coming.

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Eleven percent of those surveyed said they purely rely on the EHIC while 13 percent say they take nothing at all and just hope nothing goes wrong.

The holiday company is urging jet-setters to suitably protect themselves.

Good travel insurance is the best way to achieve this and it should be bought when you book the holiday for total protection.

“Even when we were part of EHIC, we would have always recommended taking out good, comprehensive travel insurance before leaving the country,” said McCauley.

“The only EHIC provided for emergency medical care overseas – it didn’t normally cover the costs of repatriation, cancellation, lost property or any of the other risks of travelling abroad, and of course it didn’t cover you outside Europe.

“So in that respect, expert advice hasn’t really changed – take out suitable travel insurance every time you go.”

Travellers needn’t overly worry, though, McCauley emphasised this doesn’t mean travelling abroad is any less safe than before.

“All of the same medical facilities are available in all of the same places,” he explained.

“But without insurance, making use of those facilities may come with a – sometimes considerable – fee, so getting insured before you go is a wise precaution.”

The expert shared his advice when it comes to picking a holiday insurance policy.

“In terms of choosing travel insurance, you need to do your own research and pick a policy that’s right for you,” he said.

McCauley shared the following pointers:

– Policies are often limited to specific countries, so even if you have an annual policy make sure it covers you for your next trip

– Winter sports and other riskier activities often require additional or specialist cover, If for example you’re skiing or diving, make sure you have the cover you need

– Travellers with pre-existing medical conditions normally need specialist insurance

– Check what the process is for emergencies or making a claim. Is there a convenient number for someone to call in the UK who can help?

Travelling in 2021 may require more forethought and planning.

“As we leave the EU at the end of this year there’s a handful of additional things to remember before setting out,” detailed McCauley.

“Make sure you have six months on your passport. If you’re driving, get the right paperwork and insurance green card.

“Pet passports may no longer work, though the details of that have yet to be finalised.”

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