I received an email advising me that my European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is about to expire, so I thought I better renew it.
I followed the link and was taken to a website to enter my application. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to end horribly wrong; it was a legitimate email and a legitimate website.
I entered the expected details – name and address, National Insurance number, number of existing card, etc. and moved to the next page.
“How would you like to pay the £19.99 charge?” Whoa! Wait a minute! Roll back the truck! A little bell was ringing at the back of my head.
Wasn’t there something on a financial programme about companies that charge over-the-odds for this sort of application?
Time to do a little research.
It didn’t take long. The first result from a search engine gave me the NHS site Apply for a free EHIC card. “The EHIC is free of charge…Beware of unofficial websites, which may charge if you apply through them.” What’s more, the site was able to tell me that my EHIC doesn’t even expire until August 2016.
Please note that the original site I went to (whose address I am deliberately not giving) and others like it are NOT fraudulent. They are not going to run off with your money or clear your bank account. They are just asking you to pay for something you can get for free.
In practice (and probably in legality) it’s no different to one shop selling milk for 50 pence because customers don’t realise that just down the road is another shop selling it for 40 pence. caveat emptor.
So – be warned. If you are being asked to pay for a service, and you are not applying through an official government website (which will probably have a gov.uk or nhs.uk suffix), look again. You might be paying more than you need to.
I have written to the company asking them to justify their £19.99 charge. I’ll let you know if I get any response.
Using your EHIC in Spain
By Foreign & Commonwealth Office