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DEALING WITH BREXIT

British pensioners and students living in Europe urged to apply for new EHIC card

British pensioners and students living in an EU country are encouraged to apply for a new European Health Insurance card (EHIC) because current cards become invalid on December 31st.

British pensioners and students living in Europe urged to apply for new EHIC card
AFP

Under the terms of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement British pensioners who are S1 holders and students can continue to use their UK-issued EHIC card for basic health cover when travelling to another EU country as well as Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Pensioners and students can also use the cards when returning to the UK but they now need to apply for new one.

Current EHIC cards are only valid until December 31st.

That means yet more paperwork – but there is a positive side to this, insist citizens' rights campaigners British in Europe.

“This is good news as the new EHICs will verify that you have continued rights to use them under the Withdrawal Agreement,” the group says.

The application process is fairly straightforward and can be done via this link.

The following categories of British nationals living in Europe need to apply for a new card:

  • If you have a registered S1 form or E121 because you receive a qualifying pension or benefit
  • If you have a registered S1 form or E121 because you're a family member of someone with a qualifying pension or benefit
  • If you have a registered S1 form or E106 because you're a frontier worker (someone who works in one state and lives in another) by 31 December 2020, for as long as you continue to be a frontier worker in the host state
  • If you have a registered S1 form or E109 because you're a family member of someone considered to be a frontier worker
  • If you are a UK student studying in the EU by 31 December 2020

If you are planning on travelling to the UK or another EU country before the end of the year but returning to your country of residence in the new year, then your current EHIC will cover you for basic health cover.

British students in the EU will be covered by their new EHIC until the end of the studies abroad and only in the country they are studying. They are also advised to have travel insurance.

Remember that an EHIC card does not cover all health costs in EU countries and is not an alternative to travel insurance. It does not cover mountain rescue or cruises, for example. For more info CLICK HERE.

For most Britons the EHIC card will no longer be valid after December 31st.

However anyone with a European Health Insurance card issued by their EU country of residence (which in France is known as a Carte europeenne assurance maladie or CEAM) can still use it for health cover when visiting other EU, EEA countries or Switzerland.

For British residents in the EU who are not pensioners, the UK government told The Local that their CEAM will be valid for any treatment they need while visiting the UK.

The UK government's site says: “If you live in the EU or move there before the end of 2020, your rights to access healthcare in your host country will stay the same from January 1st 2021 for as long as you remain resident.

This means you’ll: 

  • continue to get state healthcare in your host country on the same basis as other residents  
  • still be entitled to a European EHIC for travel, including visits to the UK 

People who already have a European card issued by their host country do not need to renew it.

Member comments

  1. The link is incorrect, it is for UK residents ONLY.
    If you are already resident outside UK, it says you need to call +44 191 218 1999 to renew your EHIC. I only found this info when my french postcode was refused and I clicked through to the help page! https://www.ehic.org.uk/Internet/help.do#address

    Given the questions on the form (that I wasted my time completing) you’ll possibly need your NI or NHS number and your EHIC PIN which is on your current EHIC card and begins UK.

    Please, THE LOCAL check your data before sending us all on a wild goose chase!

  2. The link is incorrect, it is for UK residents ONLY.
    If you are already resident outside UK, it says you need to call +44 191 218 1999 to renew your EHIC. I only found this info when my french postcode was refused and I clicked through to the help page! https://www.ehic.org.uk/Internet/help.do#address

    Given the questions on the form (that I wasted my time completing) you’ll possibly need your NI or NHS number and your EHIC PIN which is on your current EHIC card and begins UK.

    Please, THE LOCAL check your data before sending us all on a wild goose chase!

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EUROPEAN UNION

How Europe plans to ease long-term residence rules for non-EU nationals

Non-EU citizens living in the European Union are eligible for a special residence status that allows them to move to another country in the bloc. Getting the permit is not simple but may get easier, explains Claudia Delpero.

How Europe plans to ease long-term residence rules for non-EU nationals

The European Commission proposed this week to simplify residence rules for non-EU nationals who live on a long-term basis in the European Union.

The intention is to ease procedures in three areas: acquiring EU long-term residence status, moving to other EU countries and improving the rights of family members. 

But the new measures will have to be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council, which is made of national ministers. Will EU governments support them?

What is EU long-term residence?

Non-EU citizens who live in EU countries on a long-term basis are eligible for long-term residence status, nationally and at the EU level. 

This EU status can be acquired if the person has lived ‘legally’ in an EU country for at least five years, has not been away for more than 6 consecutive months and 10 months over the entire period, and can prove to have “stable and regular economic resources” and health insurance. Applicants can also be required to meet “integration conditions”, such as passing a test on the national language or culture knowledge. 

The EU long-term residence permit is valid for at least five years and is automatically renewable. But the status can be lost if the holder leaves the EU for more than one year (the EU Court of Justice recently clarified that being physically in the EU for a few days in a 12-month period is enough to maintain the status).

READ ALSO: IN NUMBERS: How many non-EU citizens live in European Union countries?

Long-term residence status grants equal treatment to EU nationals in areas such as employment and self-employment or education. In addition, EU long-term residence grants the possibility to move to other EU countries under certain conditions. 

What does the European Commission want to change?

The European Commission has proposed to make it easier to acquire EU long-term residence status and to strengthen the rights associated with it. 

Under new measures, non-EU citizens should be able to cumulate residence periods in different EU countries to reach the 5-year requirement, instead of resetting the clock at each move. 

This, however, will not apply to individuals who used a ‘residence by investment’ scheme to gain rights in the EU, as the Commission wants to “limit the attractiveness” of these routes and not all EU states offer such schemes. 

All periods of legal residence should be fully counted towards the 5 years, including those spent as students, beneficiaries of temporary protection or on temporary grounds. Stays under a short-term visa do not count.

Children who are born or adopted in the EU country having issued the EU long-term residence permit to their parents should acquire EU long-term resident status in that country automatically, without residence requirement, the Commission added.

READ ALSO: Why it may get easier for non-EU citizens to move to another European Union country

EU countries should also avoid imposing a minimum income level for the resources condition but consider the applicant’s individual circumstances, the Commission suggests.

Integration tests should not be too burdensome or expensive, nor should they be requested for long-term residents’ family reunifications. 

The Commission also proposed to extend from 12 to 24 months the possibility to leave the EU without losing status, with facilitated procedures (no integration test) for the re-acquisition of status after longer absences.

A person who has already acquired EU long-term residence status in one EU country should only need three years to acquire the same status in another EU member state. But the second country could decide whether to wait the completion of the five years before granting social benefits. 

The proposal also clarifies that EU long-term residents should have the same right as EU nationals with regard to the acquisition of private housing and the export of pensions, when moving to a third country. 

Why make these changes?

Although EU long-term residence exists since 2006, few people have benefited. “The long-term residents directive is under-used by the member states and does not provide for an effective right to mobility within the EU,” the Commission says. 

Around 3.1 million third-country nationals held long-term residence permits for the EU in 2017, compared to 7.1 million holding a national one. “we would like to make the EU long-term residence permit more attractive,” said European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

The problems are the conditions to acquire the status, too difficult to meet, the barriers faced when moving in the EU, the lack of consistency in the rights of long-term residents and their family members and the lack of information about the scheme.

Most EU member states continue to issue “almost exclusively” national permits unless the applicant explicitly asks for the EU one, an evaluation of the directive has shown.

READ ALSO: Pensions in the EU: What you need to know if you’re moving country

This proposal is part of a package to “improve the EU’s overall attractiveness to foreign talent”, address skill shortages and facilitate integration in the EU labour market of people fleeing Ukraine. 

On 1 January 2021, 23.7 million non-EU nationals were residing in the EU, representing 5.3% of the total population. Between 2.25 to 3 million non-EU citizens move to the EU every year. More than 5 million people have left Ukraine for neighbouring states since the beginning of the war in February. 

Will these measures also apply to British citizens?

These measures also apply to British citizens, whether they moved to an EU country before or after Brexit. 

The European Commission has recently clarified that Britons living in the EU under the Withdrawal Agreement can apply for a long-term residence too.

As Britons covered by the Withdrawal Agreement have their residence rights secured only in the country where they lived before Brexit, the British in Europe coalition recommended those who need mobility rights to seek EU long-term residence status. 

These provisions do not apply in Denmark and Ireland, which opted out of the directive.

What happens next?

The Commission proposals will have to be discussed and agreed upon by the European Parliament and Council. This is made of national ministers, who decide by qualified majority. During the process, the proposals can be amended or even scrapped. 

In 2021, the European Parliament voted through a resolution saying that third-country nationals who are long-term residents in the EU should have the right to reside permanently in other EU countries, like EU citizens. The Parliament also called for the reduction of the residency requirement to acquire EU long-term residence from five to three years.

READ ALSO: COMPARE: Which EU countries grant citizenship to the most people?

EU governments will be harder to convince. However, presenting the package, Commission Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said proposals are likely to be supported because “they fit in a broader framework”, which represents the “construction” of the “EU migration policy”. 

National governments are also likely to agree because large and small employers face skill shortages, “especially in areas that are key to our competitiveness, like agri-food, digital, tourism, healthcare… we need people,” Schinas said.

The article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.

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