Most people tend to have comprehensive travel insurance that covers a multitude of travel-related mishaps while abroad and that includes free-treatment in the event of medical emergencies. While the UK was a member of the EU, there was also a safety net for those that forgot to renew or didn’t have private insurance. Any UK national that was travelling for work or pleasure or studying in the EU could have an EHIC (European Health Insurance card) that granted access to emergency healthcare provision at the same cost as residents in that country would pay.
Post-Brexit, that provision has been maintained with the launch of the new GHIC (Global Health Insurance card). Under the new agreement with the EU, the GHIC cards will offer equivalent healthcare protection.
In France, State medical care is not free and for residents of France, it is essential to have health insurance. Therefore neither an EHIC nor GHIC card would provide free medical cover, and comprehensive travel insurance remains essential for travellers.
However, given that the withdrawal agreement signed just before the end of the Brexit transition period offered a threadbare arrangement on trade and left pretty much everything else still to be discussed, let alone agreed, the continuation of this scheme offers a useful, and hopeful, insight into the mindset of both parties towards citizen’s rights abroad.
In the immediate aftermath of Brexit, anyone wishing to spend longer than 90 days in France had to provide proof of full health insurance. However, in May 2021 a fairly major concession has been granted by the consulate that people wanting to spend between 90-180 days in France will now only need to provide proof they have a GHIC card. Clearly, the cover offered by GHIC is basic and you may want to obtain full medical insurance for your own peace of mind, but it is no longer a requirement for you to be granted your visa to stay for 3-6 months. The hope and expectation is that this is an indication of 'the direction of travel' in the governments on both sides of the channel wanting to facilitate the movement for people between the two countries.
The current EHIC cards are valid so long as they are in date and can continue to used when travelling to the EU so you don’t need to replace your EHIC until it expires. The new GHIC card is free and is obtained from the official GHIC website. Your new GHIC card will normally arrive within 10 days, but the advice is that applications should be made at least 2 weeks before travelling to ensure it arrives on time.
You can apply for your GHIC card here: