Copycat sites target Europe-bound holidaymakersYou can lose up to £35 paying for free health insurance cards
15 July 2015
One in five British adults don't know that European Health insurance Cards (EHIC) are free to all UK residents.
Which? research has revealed a surprising lack of awareness of EHIC cards which get you free or reduced-cost medical treatment while travelling in Europe.
You can get an EHIC card for free online but we encourage caution when searching for ‘EHIC cards’ as the best results aren’t always at the top of the search page.
Some copycat websites - which appear high up in search results - are charging as much as £35 per card.
Many of these copycat websites are made to look official but charge a fee to process or renew documents. Don't get caught out - learn how to spot copycat websites.
Search engine scam
We found that nearly one in 16 UK adults who’d been to Europe in the last five years had paid for an EHIC card which should be free of charge to UK residents.
Many search engines carry ads for third party websites at the top of search results pages, with copycat sites made to look like official websites.
Those who click on these ads can end up paying for something they could get for free from the NHS or from the official gov.uk website.
At the time of writing, two of the most prominent adverts for EHIC cards promoted via Google are charging between £24 and £35 per card.
Don't be misled applying for an EHIC
Although it's not against the law for a company to offer a service similar to an official body, the website must make it clear that it’s not official or affiliated with the government to ensure consumers are not misled.
These dubious search engine tactics have also been used to fleece unsuspecting members of the public in the past looking for other services such as passport applications, driving licence renewals and tax returns online.
Get your free EHIC
Make sure you don’t pay more than you have to by getting your EHIC card from gov.uk/ehic.
Always remember, whether applying for or renewing an EHIC card, passport or driving licence online, there are copycat websites out there looking to trick you into paying out more than you have to.