For many would-be home buyers in Spain, health is the number one worry. Our advice is, it shouldn’t be! Healthcare in Spain is available for everyone, and if you’re too poor to pay you should get help with healthcare. These, then, are your essential need to knows.

Am I entitled to free healthcare in Spain?

State healthcare in Spain is free of charge to anyone living and working there. You are entitled to free state healthcare if you are:-

  • A resident in Spain and are in employment or self-employment and pay social security contributions,
  • a resident in Spain and are receiving state benefits,
  • a resident in Spain and your partner or parents contribute and have registered you on a family social security card,
  • a state pensioner from the UK,
  • under 26 and studying in Spain,
  • staying temporarily in Spain and have an EHIC card (this used to be the old E111 card) – more information on the EHIC card below.
healthcare in Spain

Take care to check out your options for healthcare in Spain

How do I register for state healthcare?

That depends. If you have a job, your employer will register you for social security contributions. Your employer will deduct these from your monthly salary. You will need to get a social security number, however. To do this you must provide a copy of your passport or ID card, your NIE number, residency certificate and a completed application form. You will need to register your address at your local town hall (Padron) too.

If you are self-employed, your accountant (or gestoria, if you have one) should register you for social security contributions. You will be responsible for paying these each month.

Those eligible to register for social security who are neither employed nor self-employed must register in person with the Social Security Office. You don’t need to know the rather long title for this, it’s known as TGSS for short! You can do this at a local office in your area.

If you are a dependent of a social security contributor and would like to be registered on their number, you need to provide proof such as a birth or marriage certificate. State pensioner sfrom the UK need to provide an S1 form. You get this from the Department of Works & Pensions in the UK, by calling 0191 218 1999.

Once you have registered at the Social Security office, you will be given a card with your social security number and you will then need to register at your local health centre.

How do get a local doctor?

Before you can register at your local health centre, you will need to obtain a Padron, i.e. register your address. You need to do this at your local Town Hall.  The documents required to get this are your NIE number, passport, residency card, a rental agreement or deeds to your property and a recent utility bill.  Registering is usually free but there may be a small administrative charge.

When you register with your local doctor you will need to take your padron, which must be less than three months old, your Social Security card, passport and NIE number.  You can then apply for your health card (tarjeta sanitaria individual – TSI).  You will need to show the health card every time you visit the doctors, hospital or collect a prescription from the chemist.

Dental treatment is not covered by the Spanish state healthcare system and you are not required to register with a dentist in Spain.

Ambulance in Madrid. Healthcare in Spain

An ambulance speeds through the streets of Madrid (Rob Wilson / Shutterstock.com)

Can I still use my EHIC?

Yes, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will still get you basic free healthcare. If you have been issued with an EHIC card in the EU and you are in Spain on holiday or on a temporary visit and you are not yet resident in Spain, you can use this card to access state healthcare in Spain. However, there may be a reduced cost or fee to pay dependent on the medical condition.  The EHIC card does not give you access to private clinics in Spain.

It is not advisable to rely solely on the EHIC card as there have been cases where the card has been refused in some parts of Spain.

Private Healthcare In Spain

You can source your own private medical insurance in Spain or you can use a Broker to source the medical insurance that is best suited to your needs. Always make sure that if you use the services of a broker, they are independent. Independent brokers will have access to a wide variety of insurers and will not be tied to one provider.

There are various levels of private healthcare from treatment in the home to access to a wide variety of clinics in Spain and when choosing private healthcare it is important to consider what you will be covered for, particularly if you suffer from pre-existing conditions.

Spain Buying Guide cover

The Spain Buying Guide takes you through each stage of the property buying process, with practical recommendations from our experts who have been through the process themselves. The guide will help you to:


  Ask the right questions
  Avoid losing money
  Avoid the legal pitfalls
  Move in successfully

Download your free guide to buying in Spain

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