Belgium may be a small country in Western Europe, but it offers a multitude of reasons to travel there for a holiday, short break or business trip. Renown for being relatively ‘unspoilt’ by commercialism, you get both beautiful cities and towns, and stunning open countryside.
However, what if you also get a medical emergency of some kind? Sadly, mishaps and illnesses can happen on any trip, which means you would be wise to make a Belgium GHIC application before you travel. This guide explains what a Belgium GHIC Card is, how to apply for one, and ways to use a Belgium UK Global Health Insurance Card to get free or lower-priced health services.
One thing to be clear about first, though, is that a Belgium GHIC does not replace the need for travel insurance. Your insurance serves many purposes not covered by this card.
Why bother getting a Belgium GHIC?
As you are not hitting the ski slopes of Austria or cycling around country lanes in France, it’s easy to think your stay in Belgium won’t require any sort of medical help.
It is true that this tends to be a destination for ‘culture vultures’ and anyone who wants to explore European history, food and countryside. Belgium is known for medieval towns, Renaissance architecture, tranquil bodies of water and unspoilt rural villages. Its capital Brussels (headquarters of the European Union and NATO) is famous across the globe for its lace, chocolate and waffles.
Antwerp, Bruges and Ghent are also popular for short breaks, holidays and business trips.
Famed for epic train journeys and unforgettable Christmas markets, it’s Belgium’s long history of beer brewing that many people talk about. Trips for beer festivals such as Zythos Festival (Brabanthal, Leuven) and the BAB Bier Festival (Bruges) are an annual event for many!
Whatever your reason to visit Belgium, there are also compelling reasons to make a Belgium GHIC application.
If you don’t have one, you could find your travel insurance doesn’t cover some treatment costs. Also, local charges for health services can be high, especially in Brussels.
What is a Belgium GHIC Card?
Previously, when travelling in Europe, you were advised to apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). You may still have a valid one, though this will expire at some point.
Post-Brexit, the EHIC has been replaced by a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). The principle is the same. It signifies a reciprocal agreement between the UK and the 27 member states of the EU. Their citizens get help from the NHS when holidaying here, and you get free or reduced-priced health services with your Belgium GHIC Card or Cyprus GHIC Card.
You can also use it in other countries within the agreement in the future, and this may include commonwealth nations at some point.
How do you use a Belgium Health Insurance Card?
If you do have a medical emergency when visiting Belgium, you can use to card to get free or reduced-price health services.
If you need general but unavoidable medical treatments when on holiday – such as dialysis – this is another occasion that your Belgium Health Insurance Card will be invaluable.
The thing to be clear about is that even with a Belgium GHIC, you can’t travel to this country to have an operation or procedure, or to give birth there. Elective medical help is not covered by GHIC rules.
When you do need to get unavoidable medical help, you also can’t use your Belgium UK GHIC Card in private facilities. However, the good news is that many doctors and hospitals in Belgium accept a still valid EHIC or a Belgium UK GHIC Card.
Before you travel it would be worth checking the Belgian government portal for health (https://www.belgium.be/en/health) and noting down emergency numbers.
Then, when you do need the help of a doctor or a dentist, you usually pay for the costs at the point of delivery. Afterwards, your Belgium UK Global Health Insurance Card may help you claim up to 75% back, by applying to one of the country’s local health insurance funds. Keep your receipts for proof of your expense. The words to look for are “ziekenfonds”, “mutualité” or “organisme assureur”.
If you need to go to the hospital while in Belgium, you don’t necessarily need a doctor’s referral. However, you need to show your Belgium GHIC or Czech Republic GHIC Card to get free diagnosis and treatment.
If you don’t show your Belgium GHIC card for any reason, the same reimbursement process mentioned above may apply.
Prescription charges vary and you may even get them free with your Belgium Health Insurance Card in some places. However, you may have to pay for ambulance transport in this country. Though if it’s an emergency requiring an air ambulance, you may be able to claim 50% back from the Belgian public health insurance scheme.
How to make a Belgium GHIC application
It’s straightforward to apply for a Belgium UK GHIC Card or Denmark GHIC Card. You can do it via the NHS website, or using the services of a specialist intermediary to save time. Either way, you need evidence of your identity, permanent address and citizenship of the UK.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is lose my Belgium GHIC or have it stolen?
If you are still in the UK, you need to make a new Belgium GHIC Application. However, if you are on holiday – or a business trip – it is still possible to prove that you have registered for a Belgium GHIC and been approved.
Contact the NHS Overseas Healthcare Services on +44 (0)191 218 1999. It is open Monday to Friday, 8 am – 6 pm.
Using your national insurance number for verification, they can issue a Provisional Replacement Certificate (or PRC). This acts as a temporary Belgium GHIC card.
Can I apply for a Belgium UK Global Health Insurance Card for my children?
You can make a Belgium GHIC Application on behalf of yourself, your child or children, or anyone else in your family. However, you will need to be able to show evidence of the identity and UK citizenship of each applicant.
Does a Belgium Health Insurance Card reduce travel insurance premiums?
Though it might not reduce prices for policies, some travel insurance companies insist on customers having a valid EHIC or GHIC.
The Belgium GHIC Card serves different purposes than your travel policy, but the two go hand in hand. Especially, providing you with free or reduced-price health services not necessarily covered by travel insurance.