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Document Why was I charged for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?

Several websites exist that may charge you if you apply through them. These sites are unofficial and are not affiliated with the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA); they operate without approval from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Following an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading, in 2010, it was ruled that such websites must make it clear to customers that they are not affiliated with the NHSBSA, NHS or DHSC and clearly advise customers that they can apply directly to the NHSBSA for an EHIC free of charge.

Additional Information:

The Government Digital Service (GDS) is providing Google with clear information about government services so that they can identify and take action against websites that add little or no value to those services. Google has committed to protecting its users by removing misleading adverts (which breach Google’s policies in relation to advertising services associated with official ones) and to closing the accounts of repeat offenders. Government is also widening its engagement to include other search engine providers

The law requires all unofficial sites offering EHIC services to carry a clear disclaimer that they are not an NHSBSA site or affiliated in any way to NHSBSA.

NHSBSA are the only provider of the EHIC. Official online EHIC services can only be accessed on the NHS website.

What has been done:

Government Ministers have met with Google to request that they remove any adverts for misleading third party websites. Similar arrangements have been put in place with other search engine providers and the government will continue to identify these unofficial sites to search engine providers as early as possible.

What is being done:

Evidence is being gathered on the extent of the problem. We have already had success with removing adverts from Google so we are working with the GDS to take evidence to other search engine providers (e.g. Bing, Yahoo) to see how they can help prevent customers from being misled into using unofficial websites that may appear at the top of internet searches.

GDS is working with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), NTSB, Which? and others to identify misleading websites and make sure the public are aware of the issue of them.

NTSB have released a video via social media in July 2014 to help raise awareness and kick off an "Owl and the Copycat" campaign. GDS have also linked up with Which? who, in July 2014, published a consumer piece "How to spot a copycat website".

The government has also launched its social media Thunderclap campaign (#StartatGOVUK) to encourage users to start their journey online at GOV.UK when wishing to access government information and services.

Customers who want to take further action:
  • If you believe you have been misled by an advertisement from a third party passport websites, please contact the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) on 0207 492 2222 or visit their website. The ASA will not be able to assist you in obtaining a refund of the fee paid to a website.
  • If you believe the terms and conditions of the third party websites are unclear the Citizens Advice Bureau Consumer Advice may be able to assist in helping you understand them. Please see the contact details.
Your local Trading Standards Office may also be able to assist, but only in cases where there has been a clear breach in the terms and conditions of the website who took the payment from you. The Citizens Advice Bureau can provide you with the contact details of your local Trading Standards office.

Customers who are requesting a reimbursement of the fee:

As this fee was collected by the unofficial third party and not by NHSBSA, you are advised to check the terms and conditions of the website that took this payment from you and contact them. NHSBSA cannot reimburse a fee that we did not charge you.

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