I am a Ph.D. student funded by an EU grant studying in the UK. As such, I have registered with a GP once I arrived in the UK and received an NHS number.

Due to my field of study I regularly travel to other European countries to attend conferences / workshops / etc. hence I applied for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). I embarked on one of those trips prior to receiving the EHIC and got sick while being in Switzerland. Hence I rang up the Overseas Healthcare Team to inquire about a replacement certificate, however, they told me that as a student I am not elligible to an EHIC issued by the NHS.

Prior to coming to the UK guides like this gave me impression that I am elligible for an EHIC. Can anyone with relevant expertise help?

Edit: Additional Information: I was regularly insured in my home country [Germany] until I moved to the UK for my studies. I have a stipend that finances my studies for at least 3.5 years. I have started my Ph.D. in October 2014 and I arrived in switzerland a few days ago.

  • When did you start your studies in the UK? Before that, were you insured by an other EU state? Also, for how long does your studies last, and how much time has elapsed between starting your studies and your trip to Switzerland?
    – SztupY
    Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 9:42
  • @SztupY Added the requested details. I should also add that I rang up the EHIC application line and the person on the other end told me that I am eligible for an EHIC and I should not worry. This left me even more confused (yet slightly more hopeful).
    – elemakil
    Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 13:50

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately it is quite common that NHS staff is wrong in whether you are insured or not, and they prefer taking money upfront in these cases.

The main confusion in your case is that while NHS treatments are free for you if you are a student on a course for more than 6 months, you can only apply for an EHIC card if you are an ordinary resident in the UK, and students by default are not considered ordinary residents (even if they are on courses that last more than 6 months).

So you have to prove them that you are in fact an ordinary resident. As as you'll be staying in the UK for more than 3 years is probably the case however.

What I'd do is call them again, and tell them explicitly that:

  • You are an EEA citizen
  • But, you are on a course for more than 6 months
  • Also you have already registered at a local GP, and you intend on living in the UK, meaning you can be considered as an ordinary UK resident
  • You have applied for the EHIC card prior your travel

If they still tell you otherwise then ask them what they would like as a proof of ordinary residence. Anything that suports that you are already settled down can be used in favour of them believeng in you.

Note that if you are actually not an ordinary resident (this is possible, if you are still spending a lot of time in Germany), then it's possible that you are still in the jurisdiction of Germany's health care provider, so you should ask for the EHIC card there (and pay the appropriate fees in Germany).

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