All three ask you to fill in an identical form, and all three will see that you receive a European Health Insurance Card, but the first two will charge £9.95 for the privilege. ehic.org.uk, which is the real deal, will send you one for free.
Both of the fee-charging sites are careful to include small print–tiny print, actually–linking to the genuine EHIC application site, and both explicitly style themselves as ‘review and forwarding’ services. This presumably keeps them on the right side of the law, but, as far as I’m concerned, both sites are little more than scams designed to fleece unsuspecting travellers of their hard-earned tenners.
The company behind ehic.org, Portcreek of Gosport, claim to provide ‘merchant portals for a variety of services which can be offered by website, mail-order or telephone’, though they don’t say which ‘services’ they provide, or for whom. At the time of writing, the only site on the web that links to Portcreek is… ehic.org. Which makes me wonder whether they do anything other than rip off folk applying for an EHIC.
The company behind ehic.uk.com, Imap (UK) Ltd. of Bolton, also run e111.org.uk (a reference to the EHIC’s predecessor, the E111 form) and a not-at-all-dubious-looking debt consolidation and ‘mortgage advice’ site, Homeowner Loans & Mortgages. I’m not filling out their forms to check, but wouldn’t be surprised if a small credit card payment–£9.95, perhaps–was required before customers received and advice.
I know that it’s hardly a revelation that there are websites expressly designed to extract money from less than savvy surfers, but taking ten quid in return for an essential, government-approved travel document that is made available for free seems a bit rich. David Heath, the Shadow Leader of the House, agrees, but since he buried his July 2009 mention of Portcreek and Imap’s shady dealings in a longwinded question that touched on several other, unrelated topics, Harriet Harman can be forgiven for failing to reply.
I think I feel a letter to my MP coming on.