When a foreign citizen pays regular insurance premiums in Spain as an employee, a self-employed entity (or autonomo), or officially retired resident, he or she has the right to receive a free medical card for use in Spain (or Tarjeta Sanitaria). The card confirms the holder’s right to use necessary, free public health services.
If a foreigner does not pay premiums to the social security system on a regular basis but is an EU citizen, he or she is still entitled to access public health services thanks to the European medical card (EHIC) in Spain. Citizens of other countries outside the EU can receive only free emergency medical help, but they may pay for private insurance coverage.
How to get a medical card in Spain
To obtain a medical card, it is necessary to present the following documents:
- Social security number (Documento de Afiliación a la Seguridad social). This can be obtained in any social insurance office located near your place of residence.
- Certificate of residence (Certificado de empadronamiento). The registration will determine a suitable medical center (centro de salud) in proximity that you may use.
- The documents listed above must also be accompanied by a passport or NIE (both originals and copies). In some cases, you additionally may be asked to provide a work contract and information about your salary.
This package of documents must be handed over to the Centro de Salud nearest your place of residence. After the registration procedure is finished, the foreign citizen can obtain a medical card (Tarjeta Sanitaria).
European medical card in Spain
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is a personal and non-transferable document certifying the holder's right to receive temporary medical care within the territory of the European Union.
The European medical card in Spain is invalid when the purpose of the trip is to obtain medical treatment, including medical services for pregnancy and childbirth.
In some cases, a foreign citizen who is a member of the European Union will need to pay a fixed amount or a percentage of the cost of medical services in accordance with the conditions of the otherwise free medical care in Spain.
The European insurance EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. The medical card neither covers the expenses of private medical services nor reimburses the cost of lost or stolen belongings.
The card gives the holder the right to use public medical services at a lower price or free of charge during a temporary visit to Spain. Also included are the treatment of chronic or pre-existing diseases at acute stages as well as emergency or premature births.
Specialists from INEEDSpain are available to answer all your questions and give you advice in any situation that may appear during your travels. INEEDSpain helps to organize suitable medical treatment and performs medical tourism services, including assistance with medical insuranceю