The new Global Health Insurance Card has been launched, replacing the existing European version following Brexit.
Despite its name, GHIC will be valid only in the EU and a few other countries.
As well as the EU member states, the UK has reciprocal healthcare agreements with Australia, New Zealand, the Balkan states of Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo and some Crown Dependencies and overseas territories such as Isle of Man, Jersey and Gibraltar.
For those travelling to the EU, European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) will remain valid until they expire.
The Department for Health and Social Care said: “The public only need to apply for their new GHIC when their current EHIC expires. Both cards will offer equivalent protection for emergency and medically necessary healthcare needs when in the EU on a temporary stay, which includes holiday, study and business travel.”
The GHIC card is free from the GHIC website for all UK residents. The government said applications should be made “at least two weeks” before travel. It added UK residents travelling without a card are still entitled to healthcare, the cost of which would be refunded by the NHS Business Services Authority.
GHIC is unnecessary in Ireland, as health care for UK residents is still covered by the Common Travel Area arrangement.
The Department added: “Alongside the deal with the EU, the UK is open to agreeing further reciprocal healthcare arrangements that can support UK residents when they travel.
“The government always advises that anyone travelling overseas, whether to the EU or elsewhere in the world, should take out comprehensive travel insurance.”