THOUSANDS of important travel documents are due to expire this year – and it could end up costing Brits money while on holiday.

More than five million European Health Insurance Cards (Ehics) are set to expire this year, with 635,000 of them running out between October 1 and December 31.

Once they have expired, Brits will need to apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (Ghic), with the Ehics no longer available post Brexit.

The Ghics are free of charge and allow holders to receive medical treatment abroad in certain countries, either for free or at a reduced cost.

Without one, any travellers who become ill while abroad will have to pay full price for their treatment, if it is not covered by an insurance package.

The countries covered by the Ghic card include EU member states and Switzerland.

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Holidaymakers will often still have to pay for medical treatment abroad even with the card, but it will be at a significantly reduced rate.

According to consumer experts Which? the average processing time for a Ghic application was 20 working days at the end of September.

The cards can be applied for up to six months before an Ehic is due to expire.

Although they do help with costs, the cards are not an outright replacement for travel insurance and both will be needed in order for medical emergencies to be fully covered.

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The cards are only used for necessary medical treatment and not for non-urgent care.

Anyone who has an Ehic or Ghic, but forgets to take it with them can apply for a provisional replacement certificate (PRC) by contacting NHS Overseas Healthcare Services (NHSOHS).

Which? explains that sometimes, even with the cards, people will be expected to pay for their treatment in full, but the Ghics mean they can claim a refund at a later date.

That can also be done via the NHSOHS website.

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