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Healthcare in Spain - Non-resident visitors to Spain

If you are visiting Spain or staying here as a non-resident, it is important to know how you stand with regard to healthcare.

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European visitors to Spain

All British, EU and European Economic Area (EEA) nationals below retirement age who visit Spain for a short holiday are entitled to free or reduced-cost emergency medical healthcare and treatments at all Spanish public healthcare centres and hospitals upon production of a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Largely, the treatment you are entitled to will be the equivalent to that which Spanish nationals are entitled to, but this can depend upon the level of public healthcare provision in your own country of residence, so it is worth checking this before you depart.

The aforementioned EHIC has replaced the old E111 form, and a number of other healthcare forms, to become the European standard (in Spain it is known as the Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea). In order to obtain a EHIC, you simply need to send off for one before you leave your home country. They are free of charge, and in the UK the forms are available from all post offices and most travel agents. Alternatively you can simply call NHS Direct and have the forms sent to your home address.

Should you be required to seek emergency treatment while on holiday in Spain, ensure that you produce your EHIC upon arrival at the medical centre. This reciprocal agreement only covers you for medical emergencies carried out within the state sector, and does not extend to repatriation due to illness, so you shouldn’t treat your EHIC as an alternative to private medical insurance.

Your EHIC can be used EU-wide and in the EEA countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. For further information or to download an application form, visit 

Non-European visitors to Spain

Non-Europeans visiting or living in Spain will most likely have to prove that they have adequate medical insurance before they are issued with a visa granting them entry to the country. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that a legal non-European visitor to Spain isn't covered by at least some sort of healthcare provision. Nevertheless, all Spanish state hospitals are required to provide vital primary healthcare to any patient that is admitted to hospital with life-threatening injuries or illness, regardless of their ability to pay.

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