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Your Brexit questions: Healthcare in France

Are Ehics still valid to visit France and is any additional private insurance needed? How can you apply for a Brexit WA deal card with pre-existing medical conditions? Should British pensioners in France use a UK Ehic on trips to Britain?

We have had a house in France for 17 years, visiting often, and in the last three years we have had a carte de séjour. We always had an Ehic card and wonder what will replace this?

As you were spending time in a second home and just visiting France, you would have used a British Ehic (European Health Insurance Card). Now you have an EU citizen’s residency card, you are a resident, not a visitor.

So if you have still been using a British Ehic card, that was not the usual procedure. You should have entered the French health system in which case you could have replaced your Ehic with the French equivalent called Ceam (Carte européenne d’assurance maladie). Alternatively you could have taken out a comprehensive private health insurance policy.

British people who are in the French system are eligible for a Ceam card to use when visiting other EU countries, the same as other people covered for healthcare in France.

The main exception to this, as before, is British state pensioners with S1 forms whose healthcare is paid for by the UK. The UK issues them with a British Ehic to use when travelling outside France in the EU, and under the terms of the Brexit deal this system remains in place.

If you had continued to be visitors to a second home in France, then the Brexit deal states British Ehics issued before this year remain valid for visits to the EU until they expire.

However, with limited exceptions such as the S1 pensioners mentioned above, new British traveller health cards issued as of now to UK dwellers will have a different name: Ghic – UK Global Health Insurance Card.

I am a UK citizen and a French resident. Is my French Ceam card valid for trips to the UK? If not what has replaced it?

Yes, French Ceams will still be accepted to access necessary NHS care during trips to the UK, under the terms of the recent EU/UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (also known as the ‘future relationship deal’).

The future relationship deal also maintains the possibility for French residents to go to the UK for a planned healthcare procedure and be reimbursed by France under certain conditions.

I am an early retiree and moved to France from the UK in 2020. I understand I am not eligible for an S1 (because I am not retired and am not claiming any benefits). I have an existing medical condition and am struggling to find private medical insurance to cover it. Is it necessary to have private medical cover which covers this condition, before I can apply for residency?

No, it is not essential to have private medical insurance. You should urgently apply for entry to the French system under Puma (Protection maladie universelle). You do this by applying to your nearest caisse primaire d’assurance maladie (Cpam) using form 15763*02.

This form asks non-EU citizens to produce a copy of their residency card; however as a Briton covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement you are legally resident without this.

Include a note to this effect with your application, though if you do have an existing EU citizen’s residency card, include a copy or the email attestation of having applied for one of the new Brexit WA cards, if you have done so.

Other documents you will need are proof of at least three months’ residency in France, such as recent home utility bills, and a copy of your birth certificate.

There is an EU law that states that documents written in an EU official language do not need translating, which has historically meant that English-language birth certificates should not need translating. (Despite Brexit, English still remains one of the EU’s languages.)

However, an advisor at the International Organisation for Migration, one of the bodies helping Britons with their residency card applications, said it is best to get a 'long version' of your birth certificate and if possible in a multilingual format.                             

When I visit France and apply for a 90/180-day visa, does my Ehic card now count as health insurance cover for the application or do I need to obtain additional health cover?

Firstly, it is agreed that British citizens do not need to apply for a short-term Schengen visitor visa for trips to France.

The 90/180-day rule for third country visitors will be checked by passport stamps when you enter and exit the Schengen zone, such as when coming in and out of France on the way to the UK. However there is no need for a visa if you are respecting the 90-day limit.

Yes, your British Ehic, if still in its validity period, can still be used for essential healthcare during your trip. In future when you apply for a replacement it will have a different name – Ghic.

Strictly speaking, foreign visitors exempt from a short-term visitor visa are meant to also take out travel insurance, including cover for repatriation in the event of an accident or death. This is not covered by Ehic and in theory border guards could ask to see it.

In practice however, Americans in France told The Connexion that their visitors, also subject to the 90/180-day rule, are not asked to show proof of health insurance, so we would expect the same to apply to Britons in most cases.

As a UK citizen with an S1 and permanently resident in France before the end of 2020, can I use my new Ehic card for trips back to the UK, or is it only valid for trips to other EU member states?

No, as before, you would not use your British-issued Ehic for healthcare in the UK, but rather for travel outside France in the EU.

Following 'full Brexit', UK state pensioners who are covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and previously registered their S1 with a French Cpam will still be able to continue to use the NHS free of charge during future visits there as before. If asked for proof, you should show a copy of your S1 form for this.

For queries, or if you did not keep a copy of the S1, you can get further information from the DWP’s Overseas Healthcare Services on 0044 (0)191 218 1999.

Previous articles

Your Brexit questions: Second homes in France

Your Brexit questions: Visas and travel to France

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