United Kingdom – European Health Insurance Cards for Crew

16 April 2014

Members should note that we have been informed by the Marine Advisory Medical Service about changes to the necessity for European crew members to have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in order to obtain free medical treatment in the UK under the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 2011.

The Guidance on Implementing the Overseas Visitors Hospital Charging Regulations (October 2013) (click here) specifically states that health care trusts in the UK must obtain from the patient a copy of the EHIC, enabling the trusts to collect the costs incurred for treatment from the reciprocal EU country. Previously, patients with European passports (but without a EHIC) were being treated in the UK in any event in certain circumstances. However, as a number of countries failed to reimburse the costs incurred where treatment was provided on the basis of a European passport, the United Kingdom has now refused to accept a passport to determine eligibility for free treatment of European nationals and an EHIC will be insisted upon before free treatment is provided.

Accordingly, it is recommended that eligible European crew should obtain an EHIC from their home government before joining the ship. EHIC cards are valid for 5 years from date of issue.