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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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BRITS IN EUROPE

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

After years of campaigns and promises British citizens living abroad finally won the lifelong right to vote in UK general elections in April 2022. But campaigners say more needs to be done to allow all those Britons abroad to be able cast their votes easily.

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

What’s in the law?

The Elections Act 2022 introduced several changes to the current legislation on electoral participation. Among these, it removed the rule by which British citizens lose their voting rights in the UK if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years

The new rules also abolished the requirement to have been previously registered in the UK electoral roll to become an overseas voter. In addition, the registration in the electoral roll will now last up to three years instead of only one year.

It is estimated that these changes could increase the number of overseas voter registrations by some 3 million. But the way new measures will be applied in practice is still to be defined.

READ ALSO: ‘Mixed feelings’ – British citizens in Europe finally get right to vote for life

Defining the practicalities

Under the new law, Britons living abroad will have to register to vote in the last place they were registered in the UK. This means that people who have never lived in the UK will be ineligible to vote, regardless of how long they have been overseas, while those who left when they were children will be able to use a parent or guardian’s address.

But given that the UK does not require residents to register with local councils, how to prove previous UK residence? “Typical documents accepted as a proof of residence are Council tax or utilities bills, but not everyone will have them or will have kept them in an international move,” says Fiona Godfrey, co-founder of the British in Europe coalition.

Ballot papers are pictured in stacks in a count centre as part of the 2019 UK general election. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)

Other questions concern how people will effectively cast their ballot. UK citizens overseas will be able to vote by post or by proxy or in person at their polling station if they are in the UK at the time of the election. However, few people are likely to travel to the UK for an election and in the past there have problems and delays with postal voting.

The Electoral Commission has recommended that overseas electors appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf. But who could that be for people who have been away from their constituency for a long time?

New secondary legislation will have to answer these questions, defining how to be included in the electoral roll and how to exercise the voting right in practice.

According to British in Europe, the government should present draft legislation in the first half of the year so that the parliament can adopt it before summer and registrations of overseas voters can start in the autumn.

British in Europe survey

British in Europe are currently running a survey to understand the difficulties UK citizens abroad may face in the registration and voting process, as well as their intention to participate in elections.

The survey asks for instance which documents people can access to prove their previous residence in the UK, what problems they had voting in the past, and if and how they plan to vote in the future.

“We need to get an up-to-date picture of British citizens living around the world and have information to make recommendations to the government, as it prepares secondary legislation,” Godfrey said. “If millions of people will exercise their voting rights, there will be consequences for council registration offices, post office and authorities that will manage the process, among other things” she argued.

The right to vote concerns only UK parliamentary elections and national referendums, not elections in the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, or at local level.

The survey is open to UK citizens living anywhere in the world and is available at this link.

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