Everything anyone travelling from Lancashire needs to know about checking your passport, driving in Europe and making sure your healthcare is covered on holiday

If you have plans to escape Lancashire for a holiday or short break in Europe this summer it is important to make sure you have the right documents ready - and apply in good time.
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Some families have fallen foul of post-Brexit changes which mean that in some EU countries, your passport is only valid for ten years from its issue date - and you must have a minimum of three months left when you travel so that effectively cuts it down to nine years and nine months from the date it was first issued regardless of the expiry date shown.

The Government is currently advising people to allow ten weeks to receive their new passport, unless you pay extra for a fast-track service.

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And it's not just your passport you'll need to check before you head off to catch your flight or ferry.

Are you getting prepared for a holiday overseas?Are you getting prepared for a holiday overseas?
Are you getting prepared for a holiday overseas?

Some other things have changed since Brexit - the European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) which replaced the old E111s are no longer issued.

You can now apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).

The Government's website says: "A GHIC lets you get medically necessary state healthcare in Europe at a reduced cost or sometimes for free.

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"If your EHIC is still in date, you do not need to apply for a new GHIC.

"They’re both valid if you’re travelling to an EU country or, if you’re eligible, in Switzerland."

However, all travellers are also advised to have travel insurance with healthcare cover, with the website adding: "An EHIC or GHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance. Make sure you have both before you travel.

"Each healthcare system is different, and in some countries you’ll need to pay to have treatment."

How and when can I apply for a GHIC?

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You can apply for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) for free on the NHS website.

If you have an existing European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) it will remain valid until the expiry date shown on the card.

You can apply for a new card up to 6 months before your current card expires.

The Government's website warns that people should allow plenty of time when making an application: "It’s currently taking longer than usual to process new UK EHIC and GHIC applications due to high demand. We’re working to resolve this and will process all applications as soon as possible.

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"If you need emergency treatment while you’re visiting another country and haven’t received your card, you can apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC)."

What can a GHIC be used for?

It is important to know that the GHIC can only be used to access medically necessary state-provided healthcare when you're visiting an EU country or Switzerland.

The Government website says this is defined as: "Medically necessary healthcare means healthcare that cannot reasonably wait until you come back to the UK. Whether treatment is necessary is decided by the healthcare provider in the country you're visiting."

This includes things like emergency treatment and visits to A&E or treatment for a long-term or pre-existing medical condition.

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You can sometimes pre-arrange treatment in another country. Check the Foreign Office country guides on GOV.UK for information on how to access treatment in the country you’re visiting.

Can I still drive in Europe with a UK driving licence?

Yes, most people can use their UK driving licence for driving in the EU or Switzerland, and you should take your licence with you when you travel.

You may need to apply for an International Driving Permit (IDP) if you have a paper licence, or if your licence was issued in Gibralter, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man.

You must have a valid driving licence to apply for a IDP, which can be obtained from the Post Office.

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Before you travel abroad, check your licence is still valid and renew online if it has expired or is about to expire - you should receive your new licence within five days. You can also apply by post, but it will take longer.

If your licence has been damaged, destroyed, lost or stolen you will need to apply for a new one.

What are the rules for driving abroad?

When planning to drive overseas you should always check the rules for the country you are visiting.

This includes local speed limits, drink drive laws and the requirement to carry extra equipment like a reflective jacket and warning triangle.

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You will need headlight converter stickers, and a UK sticker.

Some European cities require emission stickers (permits).

If you are hiring a car, it is your responsibility to check it is correctly equipped.

And if you are taking your own vehicle, check your insurance cover - your UK insurance will give you a minimum of third party cover, but may not include things like theft or damage.

You may also need additional insurance if you are towing a caravan or trailer.

Additional driving advice for every country in Europe can be found on the RAC's website.