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Health care and safety

Where to call in case of emergency?

Dial 112 free of charge (valid throughout Spain). Service is given in Spanish, and also in English, French and German in some tourist areas.

How does the Spanish healthcare system work?

The Spanish National Health Service has an extensive network of health centres and hospitals throughout the country.

The health centres offer primary health care services (family/GP services, paediatrics and nursing, with availability of midwives, physiotherapists and social workers). They are aimed to be located within 15 minutes of any place of residence. If circumstances require, medical attention can be given at the patient’s residence.

Also, in rural areas and in small villages there are local surgeries open on certain days with visits from healthcare staff from the region.

Hospitals offer specialised attention, with access via referral from primary healthcare services. There are also Accident and Emergency services available at hospitals and some health centres.

You can check hospitals and health centres in Spain at the website of the Ministry of Health.

What you should know about medical care if you come from an EU member state?

You are entitled to free medical and hospital care:

Having shown your European Health Card (EHC), you will be seen by a GP at a local health centre or at your accommodation if you are unable to make the journey. If you need to see a specialist or go into hospital, the GP will give you the relevant medical certificate or referral. Accident and Emergency services are available at hospitals.

You will require your European Health Card (EHC):

With the European Health Card you will receive the same temporary healthcare services as any other Spanish citizen. The expiry date can be found on the European Health Card and it is valid in EU countries, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

It is available from the relevant healthcare organisation in your country of origin. Private doctors and hospitals in Spain do not accept the European Health Card. If you require private healthcare you must settle your own bills or take out an insurance policy that covers it.

When will forms be necessary?

If you need haemodialysis or any other type of specific treatment during your stay in Spain, you will need the E-112 form, as well as authorisation from the relevant institution in your country of origin. Remember that the following are not covered in Spain: dental treatment (apart from emergency extractions) and repatriation for medical treatment.

If you forget your European Health Card (EHC):

You will have to pay any hospital, medical or pharmaceutical bills in advance, and then seek reimbursement from the relevant organisation in your country of origin, providing all receipts.

Remember that the European Health Card is not valid if you have travelled to Spain in order to receive specific medical treatment. The same applies to all other EU countries.

Some countries do not use the European Health Card yet. If this is the case, you should travel with the relevant document from your country, which has been designated valid until the new card is introduced. In any case, you should contact the relevant office in your country of origin for full details regarding current requirements to receive medical care in Spain.

If I am not a citizen of the European Union, what should I know about health care in Spain?

Countries that follow European Community rules: Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.They enjoy the same health care benefits as member countries. Countries with which Spain has bilateral agreements: Andorra, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Peru.You will receive free medical care and hospitalisation in the case of a medical emergency, or accident, by showing the corresponding certificate from your country of origin. If you forget your certificate, you will have to pay upfront for hospitalisation, doctors, and medicines, and then ask your insurance provider or health care service to refund your expenses, always showing your receipts. Other countries:Although you will be treated in case of emergency, you will need to pay for medical attention, so you are advised to purchase health insurance. In any case, we recommend that you find out from your health insurance provider, or social care institution, about their requirements and policies about getting medical attention in Spain.

Where do I buy my medication?

In Spain, medications are obtained at pharmacies. They are all marked with a green cross. You will get your prescriptions from your doctor. If you come from a country in the European Union, or your country has health agreements with Spain, you will have the same prescription drug benefits as Spanish citizens.

Is Spain a safe country?

Spain, one of the safest countries:

In general terms, Spain is one of the safest countries in Europe for visiting tourists.

As in any country, there are basic security measures to bear in mind…

Try not to walk around empty streets or poorly-lit areas, and avoid street gambling stalls. Try to carry only the money you need for any one excursion. Take care of your possessions in crowded places such as public transport or department stores. When relaxing in public places, keep valuable objects like mobile phones and cameras out of view.

Do not forget advice from security experts: Prevention is the best cure for this kind of problem. If you need help you can contact the Police on 091.

Where can I find the embassy or consulate of my country in Spain?

Foreign embassies and consulates in Spain

Updated by: STIC

Date: 30 October 2009

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