Citizens Rights Agreement and EHIC: What You Need to Know

If you’re planning to travel to any of the European Union (EU) countries, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein, you may have heard of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and the Citizens Rights Agreement. These two documents are essential for anyone traveling or working within the EU or EFTA (European Free Trade Association), so it’s important to understand what they mean and how they work.

What is the Citizens Rights Agreement?

The Citizens Rights Agreement ensures that EU citizens living, working, and studying in the UK, as well as UK nationals living, working, and studying in the EU, retain their rights to free movement, residence, and healthcare after Brexit. This agreement protects the rights of those who have already exercised their rights to free movement, as well as those who plan to do so in the future.

As part of the agreement, British nationals who have registered as residents in the EU before the end of the Brexit transition period (31 December 2020) will keep their residency rights and can continue to access healthcare, social security, and other benefits in the EU. The agreement also guarantees that EU citizens living in the UK before 31 December 2020 can continue to reside, work, and access healthcare and public services.

What is the EHIC?

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is a free card that entitles you to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in any of the EU countries, as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. The card covers you for medical treatment that is necessary for your health, including chronic illnesses, routine maternity care, and emergency treatment.

The EHIC is available to anyone who is a resident of an EU or EFTA country and is valid for up to five years. It can be used for travel or work purposes and is particularly useful for those who are studying or working abroad.

How do the Citizens Rights Agreement and EHIC work together?

The Citizens Rights Agreement and the EHIC work hand in hand to ensure that EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU have uninterrupted access to healthcare. If you are an EU citizen living in the UK, you can continue to use your EHIC card for medical treatment in the EU until its expiry date. After that, you will need to apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) to continue to access healthcare in the EU.

Conversely, if you are a UK national living in an EU country, you can use your EHIC to access medical treatment until 31 December 2020. After this date, you will need to apply for a new EHIC card in the country where you live. UK nationals who have registered as residents in the EU before the end of the transition period will be entitled to continued healthcare coverage under the Citizens Rights Agreement.

In conclusion, the Citizens Rights Agreement ensures that EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU have the right to free movement, residence, and healthcare. The EHIC provides temporary healthcare coverage for anyone traveling or working within the EU or EFTA. Together, these two documents ensure that you can continue to access medical treatment during a temporary stay or permanent residency in any of the participating countries.