Written by Christopher Nye,
5th August 2021

The good news for British retirees moving to Spain is that their healthcare costs will be covered by the UK government via an S1 form. That’s even if they have moved there after the withdrawal agreement, or are moving in the future, and even covers dependents. For those visiting their Spanish holiday home their GHIC offers emergency cover. Here are the post-Brexit healthcare rules…

GHICs are for emergencies only

For non-residents, such as holiday homeowners, your GHIC (or non-expired EHIC) will cover you for emergency treatment in Spain. Applying is very easy, at the NHS website here, but beware scam sites requesting payment. GHICs are free!

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However, you should still take out insurance covering, for example, medical repatriation, which won’t be covered by the GHIC and can be extremely expensive.

If you have prescriptions, you can get two months’ worth to take with you from your GP. If you’re going to Spain for your full allocation of 90 days (in 180) it is advised NOT to get them couriered to Spain if you run out as they could be impounded by Spanish customs. You can, instead, use your GHIC in a public hospital to get more of your medicine.

Healthcare for retirees post-Brexit

If you retire to Spain with a visa you can now still use your S1 to register for FREE Spanish healthcare. Just like before. So no need to get private insurance. Also, that covers dependents/spouses under retirement age and children up to age 26.

However, as a Spanish resident you then won’t then be entitled to free NHS care if you return temporarily to the UK. You will get “primary services” free, such as seeing a GP and of course, emergency treatment at an A&E.

Pre- or early-retirement

If you work in Spain, legally, and have been there for at least 12 months, continuously registered at the town hall, you can voluntarily pay in monthly via the convenio especial so long as you are eligible.

Indeed, if you work and pay into the Spanish insurance scheme then you can get a Spanish EHIC, which you could use in the UK for temporary stays, just as British residents can use a GHIC in Spain.

If you retire early, before pensionable age, you will need private healthcare until you do reach pensionable age when you can then apply for the S1.

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