Spanish Health Care


In Spain there is both private and public health care. Although private health insurance isn’t mandatory here, it allows you quicker access to treatment for non-emergency procedures.

State Healthcare

State healthcare is financed by social security contributions – the central government designates a budget to each region. Due to the system being split in this way, you will need to look up the rules where you live for making use of the facilities.
The Spanish Ministry of Health website provides a catalogue of the health authorities in different regions within Spain, with links to contact information for your local centre and in-depth information that each place provides.

If you are living and working in Spain, then state health care is free. Expats can have access to free Spanish health care under the following conditions:

  • temporarily staying in Spain with a EHIC (European Health Insurance Card),
  • studying in Spain and are under the age of 26,
  • a state pensioner,
  • a child living in Spain,
  • a pregnant woman resident in Spain,
  • resident in Spain and collecting certain state benefits,
  • are either employed or self-employed and are a resident in Spain contributing to social security,
  • recently divorced/separated and paying social security as a resident in Spain.

If you do not meet these conditions you will need to organise private cover. The Spanish government offers a state insurance scheme (convenio especial) at a monthly fee, which is authorised in the area you are living in.

How to register for public health care.
To begin with, you will need to register with social security (Seguridad Social -look here to find your nearest office) to obtain your social security number. To do this you need to bring your residency certificate, a completed application form (available here), & your ID card or Passport. Also ensure that your details, primarily your address, have been registered at your local town hall beforehand.

Once registration has processed, you will need to take your certificate and social security number (given to you once everything has been processed) to your nearest health centre. You will then be able to register with a doctor. Your health centre will also organise for you to receive a SIP (Sistema de Informacion Poblacional) card, which you will need every time you go to a pharmacy, clinic or hospital.

Spanish Dentists

Unless in an emergency, dental care here is not covered by the state. To find a dentist, many expats go traditionally through word of mouth, or you can opt for the modern option of searching online.

Spanish Pharmacies

‘Farmacias’ typically open Monday-Friday between 0900-1400 and 1700-2200, with shorter hours on Saturdays, from 0930-1400. There is always a local Farmacia open on a Sunday and/or fiesta and a publicised rota will be advertiserd. Prescription charges vary depending on your age. More details, in Spanish, can be found here.

Pregnancy and birth

Once pregnant, a primary appointment is made with either a doctor or midwife to establish the pregnancy, as well as antenatal appointments and hospital scans. It is advised to take out medical insurance before getting pregnant if you plan to give birth in a private clinic, as it may prove impossible to find an insurer at a later stage.

Spanish Hospitals

Unless in an emergency, you will need a referral from your doctor to receive hospital treatment. In an emergency situation you will be able to go straight to A&E. Treatment is only free in public hospitals. When attending hospital, make sure to bring your social security card.