hospital healthcare in spain

Healthcare in Spain for expats

Spain’s public healthcare system is ranked seventh best in the world by the World Health Organization, and provides free basic healthcare in Spain to those who contribute to the Spanish social security system and their families. 

Spain’s public health care system includes state hospitals and also health care centres (centros de salud) for minor injuries or out of hours emergencies. Each town or village will have a medical clinic and unlike in the UK you can usually see the doctor the same day. Children under 14 must be seen by a pediatrician rather than a GP, some clinics have a separate pediatrics department or there will be a local clinic specifically for children. 

If you are moving to Spain and will be working or are a pensioner (over 65) you will be eligible for Spanish state healthcare. If one adult in the family pays into the social security system this will cover their spouse and children as well. 

To access public healthcare in Spain you will need to apply for a SIP (Sistema de Informacion Poblacional) card which you will need to show your when attending any medical centre. The SIP card is a credit card sized document that displays your personal information, NIE number, and the name of your doctor. 

This card entitles you to receive the same healthcare as Spanish nationals. 

How do I get a SIP card? 

To apply for a SIP card when you are working in Spain and paying into the social security system each month you will need to provide the following documentation: 

  • A completed S1 form 
  • A valid passport 
  • NIE  
  • Residencia/TIE 
  • Padrón 
  • A working life certificate (Certificado de la Vida Laboral) or Autonomo registration 

If you are a pensioner living in Spain and you receive a state pension you will need to provide the following documentation to apply for a SIP card: 

  • A completed S1 form 
  • A valid passport 
  • NIE  
  • Residencia/TIE 
  • Padrón 

If you do not work in Spain, are not a pensioner, or are under 26 years old but are a dependent of someone working in Spain or in receipt of their state pension then you can provide the following documentation to apply for a SIP card: 

  • A completed S1 form 
  • A valid passport 
  • NIE  
  • Residencia/TIE 
  • Padrón 
  • Your Birth Certificate or Marriage Certificate translated into Spanish (sworn translation) bearing the Apostille of the Hague to prove kinship with the person entitled to Spanish health care 
  • Your birth certificate translated into Spanish (sworn translation) bearing the Apostille of the Hague. 

Once you have all of this paperwork together take it to your local medical centre who will issue a receipt which can be used immediately. The SIP card will be available to collect within a week or sent to you by post. 

What to do if you are not entitled for free health care in Spain 

Free healthcare for British in Spain unfortunately isn’t available to everyone who moves over. If you are not eligible for free public health care in Spain you will need to get Private Health Insurance. When applying for permanent residency you will need to show proof of either SIP card or private health insurance. 

Private health cover policies will include a list of selected hospitals and medical centres that you can be referred to. Private health insurance in Spain can cost anywhere between €50-200 a month, depending on the plan. 

Once you have been a Spanish resident for at least one year you can join the Government health care scheme called Convenio Especial which provides access to the state healthcare system for a small monthly fee. This costs €60 per person under the age of 65 and €157 for those over 65. 

To apply for Convenio Especial you will need the following documentation: 

  • A completed S1 form 
  • A valid passport 
  • NIE  
  • Residencia/TIE 
  • Padrón 
  • Your birth certificate translated into Spanish (sworn translation) bearing the Apostille of the Hague. 
  • Direct debit form ordering the payment of the monthly amount due 

If you’re unsure where to start on getting free healthcare in Spain, your local medical centre or town hall can usually point you in the right direction.

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