The average life expectancy in Spain is one of the highest in the world, according to the 2016 World Health Organisation report it's 80 for men and 86 for woman. The sunny climate and laid-back lifestyle are bound to be contributors to this, and another factor is the high standard of Spanish health care.

So you've decided to join the growing number of expats moving to Spain (the number of Brits making the move has more than doubled in the past 10 years!) to enjoy the relaxed way of life, rest assures you can rely on a good standard of medical care.

First things first, you will need to register with the Spanish National Health System (SNS) before you're able go any further. Once you've done this you will be given your de la seguridad social (social security), or tarjeta sanitaria (health card). This will either be sent to you in the post, or you will be asked to visit your local health centre where you can collect it in person. Once you have this you can then register with your local GP just as you would in the UK, in order to make an appointment. There is a list of Doctor’s Surgeries in Spain on the SNS website ( If you are using private health coverage, your insurer will be able to refer you to an approved surgery and help you through the application process.

There are a few other exemptions which entitle you to free healthcare access. If you are living in Spain, and are:

  • a state pensioner
  • a student under 26
  • pregnant
  • a child

Registering for state healthcare insurance in Spain

If you are not eligible for free healthcare, you can register for state health insurance which is a basic monthly fee. You will need to have been on the Padron (have a certificate of registration from your local authorities) for longer than a year to be able to use this. For those under the age of 65, the flat monthly fee for state health insurance is €60 and for those over 65 the fee is €175. When paying this fee, you are expected to pay the full, non-subsidised cost for prescriptions.

Expats in Spain making social security contributions

If you’re living, working and making social security contributions in Spain, you will be able to use the state healthcare system just as a local would. This means there are no upfront costs for any treatment you receive, other than having to pay for prescriptions. For those using state healthcare, prescriptions are subsidised depending on your yearly income and if you are currently working or a state pensioner; a guide to what you will be expected to pay is below:


Under €18,000

€18,000 - €100,000

Over €100,000

State Pensioner




Working Age




When can I use my EHIC card?

If you have bought a second home in Spain and will be living in the UK for the majority of your time, you should still be able to use your EHIC card for any required treatment. Make sure to renew your EHIC card with plenty of time before you leave the country, this can be done here.

Travelling to Spain for healthcare

If you are travelling to Spain specifically for medical treatment it works a little differently and you aren’t covered by your EHIC card; you will need to complete an S2 form. You need to be eligible to receive the treatment you are applying for under the NHS in the UK. You also need to provide written evidence that you have been prescribed the treatment you are applying for by a physician based in the UK, EU or Switzerland. The full list of required information can be found on the NHS website here.
If your application is approved, your treatment will be provided with the same costs as someone resident in that country would pay.

Key contact number to remember:

112 – the number to call for emergency services if you’re in need of urgent assistance.

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