Because of Brexit, there has been a need to switch to the GHIC from EHIC to cater to the healthcare requirements of the citizens of the UK. The pandemic combined with the Brexit move complicated things, while the process of conversion was midway, which left the people with great uncertainty when they took ill.   

Brief info about the EHIC

Brexit resulted in sudden changes in the healthcare plan that was earlier widespread across the country and valid all through the EU until Brexit. Since the UK opted out changes were to be made. Earlier when individuals fell ill or required hospitalisation, they were covered by the healthcare plans of their country. This helped them to receive medical assistance at reasonable rates with most procedures covered except for cosmetic surgery. 

Additionally, for any other medical needs, individuals had the option to opt for extra health insurance to meet their requirements. The EHIC was useful when travelling across the EU. They could get medical assistance in any of the EU countries with the card. They would pay the same cost as a citizen of the country they were in making it very feasible.  

Since the EHIC did not include certain aspects, they could apply for travel insurance as part of the cover which would need to be bought separately.  E.g., whilst ambulance facilities were covered other travel expenses were not.

Changes brought about because of Brexit 

There has been a slew of changes brought about in the UK since its departure from the EU. This includes different benefits and rules that were valid when in the EU. As with the MOLT vehicle checks that were no longer valid post Brexit, the current EHIC also did not have the same validity. It was a challenge for the government to make major modifications to the EHIC for travellers across the EU, therefore minor changes were made instead. That resulted in a new card being introduced the GHIC which works like the EHIC with some modifications. Apart from the EU, the card could be used in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland. On the other hand, the GHIC only serves the countries within the EU. Having a GHIC card will not only benefit when living in the UK but also help when travelling within the EU as medical costs can be very expensive.      

The EHIC has an expiration date and needs to be renewed. They are valid for 5 years from the date of application. Since the switch to GHIC from EHIC people had to apply for a new card. Since it would have been a monumental task to reissue all existing cards, the government decided to allow those with valid EHIC cards to use them until they need renewal.  New applicants would need to apply for the GHIC instead. Those nearing the expiration of their existing EHIC card could renew and get their new GHIC instead.     

Application process 

The earlier application process was quite complicated while the new process is much more convenient and user-friendly. The forms only ask for relevant info and are easy to complete or make changes to using the same platform for renewal. With the new GHIC card, the renewal is also easy and utilises the same info as the earlier EHIC card. 

All individuals living within the EU can apply for their EHIC/ GHIC. However, kids below 16 cannot fill up the form on their own and need parental/ guardian support to do it on their behalf. All the documents and forms are available online which simplifies the process. The site mentions the forms required and these can be downloaded. Making modifications is easy. Every individual must apply for their own GHIC/ EHIC card as the card is non-transferable.   

You need to apply for the GHIC for short trips within the EU as they cannot be used in any country that falls out of the territorial limits of the European Union if they plan to travel and stay there.