UK introduces Global Health Insurance Card to cover EU travel

Coverage is between EU and Britain as part of trade pact after Brexit

A passenger passes a 'Merry Christmas' sign in the check-in area in at London Heathrow Airport Ltd. in London, U.K., on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020. The pandemic has put a third of all tourism jobs at risk, and airlines around the world have said they need as much as $200 billion in bailouts. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The UK unveiled a health insurance programme on Monday, which it said would let travellers continue to receive emergency treatment in the EU after Britain has left the bloc.

The free Global Health Insurance Card will gradually replace the European Health Insurance Card and should be acquired two weeks before travel, the Department for Health and Social Care said.

Current European cards are valid as long as they are in date, the department said.

The arrangement over health coverage is part of the trade accord struck between Britain and the EU on Christmas Eve, which came into force on January 1.

Citizens of the EU will have their European cards accepted by the UK’s National Health Service.

The agreement “ensures the right for our citizens to access necessary health care on their holidays and travels to countries in the EU", said the UK Minister of State for Health, Edward Argar.

The global card “will provide certainty and security for all UK residents", he said.