30 June 2020 12:31
Finance expert Martin Lewis has issued a fresh alert to those looking to jet off in the coming weeks as coronavirus restrictions begin to ease across Europe. Mr Lewis, who also runs the website MoneySavingExpert, has urged holidaymakers to check their European Health Insurance Card (also known as a EHIC) before they travel. What are EHIC cards? The EHIC cards are free to apply for, and allow British citizens to access state-provided medical treatment in the European Economic Area when they travel abroad and have their card to hand. The cards allow the holder to have free or discounted medical treatment at state-run hospitals and GPs in any European Union country - plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Why has Martin issued the warning? During a recent episode of his self-title Martin Lewis Money Show on ITV, he said that more than 5.7 million cards are due to expire in 2020. Speaking on the programme, he said: "Ensure yours is valid before you go away. "Even if you've already got travel insurance, it's valuable extra protection, even if just for visiting the local GP with a query while away." How can I apply for a new card? Martin added that holidaymakers can apply for a new card up to six months before the current one ends.
To do this, visit the EHIC website, or call 0300 330 1350. The application form can also be printed out by visiting the NHS website. It can be filled in and posted to: NHS Business Services Authority, European Health Insurance Card, EHIC Applications, Bridge House, 152 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 6SN. However - it's worth pointing out that you cannot get an EHIC from your doctor or from a post office. Those who have lost their cards, or if they have been stolen, should call 0300 330 1350, or from abroad call 0044 191 218 1999. Want the best local news sent to your inbox daily? Sign up to our newsletter Subscribe Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice Invalid Email As the Government confirm that air bridges will soon be put in place, making it easier for Brits to jet off in the coming weeks and months, Martin Lewis has issued a warning to holidaymakers about their passports. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed that air bridges will replace a fortnight of quarantine for Brits returning from overseas. Mr Shapps said that the Government will "shortly begin to ease the health measures at the UK border" allowing passengers to be "exempted from self-isolation requirements in certain circumstances on arrival in the UK". A traffic light system will decide which nations are safe to travel to, with those classed as green or amber available to people wanting to go on holiday. A full list of air bridges is set to be published later this week and travel companies have already reported a surge in bookings as Brits plan some summer sun. But money expert Martin has urged everyone planning to jet off to double check their passports so their holidays aren't ruined before they've even begun. Speaking on This Morning, Martin said that people looking to book up should renew their passport 'as soon as possible' if it is close to expiring, due to large reports of delays because of COVID-19, as well as checking their date of their EHIC card - the card that allows you to get medical treatment in another European country. Officials have admitted that services are running slower than normal because of the pandemic, with reports of some applicants waiting up to three months for their new passport. Martin, who said he would NOT book a holiday right now, revealed that he'd been contacted by one woman who said she had to wait 13 weeks for her passport to be renewed, forcing her to now cancel her holiday and lose thousands of pounds. He told viewers at home: "Because renewal is taking time for some people, if your renewal isn't valid and that means you can't travel, don't expect a cancellation refund from your hotel or flight. "And don't expect your travel insurance to cover you for a non-valid passport."