EHIC after Brexit – Will leaving the EU affect Medical Repatriation?

Ehic after brexit

Today is the date that the UK was originally meant to leave the EU. However, despite many attempts to negotiate a deal with Brussels, there is still no clear way forward and no certainty around arrangements with the EU. One of the areas a no-deal Brexit would affect is healthcare. Currently British citizens who want to travel in Europe are covered by the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), but this arrangement could come to an end if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. It raises important questions for British expats and travellers in European countries regarding access to healthcare and worst case, medical repatriation.


The EHIC scheme gives UK nationals access to medical care in an EU countries at a reduced cost or even free of charge. The scheme was set up to enable people to continue their stay abroad without having to return home for medical care. Currently, over 27 Million UK citizens possess an EHIC card, allowing them to access basic healthcare in Europe without taking out additional travel insurance. The card provides coverage regardless of age and is completely free.

It has been confirmed this week that if Britain left the EU without a deal, the card would cease to be valid for UK residents. This would leave millions of people without guaranteed access to medical care, potentially putting people’s health at risk.

The Department of Health issued a statement saying:

“Until further agreements are reached between the UK and individual EU member states, the government advises UK citizens to follow this latest guidance to ensure they are fully prepared for any unexpected healthcare requirements overseas.”

EHIC and Medical Repatriation

Under the current EHIC scheme, UK citizens are entitled to state provided healthcare if they suffer a medical emergency in an EU country. However in many cases people want to return to the UK as soon as possible to recover at home. Medical transports – also known as medical repatriation – are not covered by the EHIC scheme. Depending on the policy private travel insurance sometimes includes medical repatriation, but it often comes with conditions. You might have to prove medical necessity.

EMS always recommend checking your insurance policy before you travel abroad to make sure it covers you for medical repatriation services and to find out what the conditions are.

What if I’m not insured or my insurance company refuse to cover the transport?

Many repatriation services work in partnership with insurance companies, meaning they will only repatriate if the patient has sufficient cover. At EMS we don’t work like that. We will make every attempt to help you, whether you are insured or not. We will assess your situation carefully and help you find a solution that fits your needs. We offer repatriation services by road ambulance and by air transports. Oftentimes the type of transport can greatly impact the cost of a repatriation.


If you are considering medical repatriation, please do not hesitate to contact us, even if you just want to chat through your options You can reach us 24/7 by email, phone or using our online chat function. Alternatively, you can fill out of free quotation form and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours. We are here to help!

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