How do foreigners obtain or register for medical care in Spain?
The following rules apply for citizens of the EU. For other nationalities, different rules may apply.
If you are in receipt of a state retirement pension in your home country, then that pension should entitle you to register for free medical care in any country in the EU, including Tenerife, Spain.
For UK nationals, the first step is to obtain a Form S1 Application from the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) in England. A physical paper form must be posted to you as there is no option to apply online. Given that this is a relatively slow procedure, it is recommended to complete the application before moving to Spain so as to avoid any extended period without medical cover.
You now need to telephone the Department of Work and Pensions on +44 191 218 7777 or via the Contact Us link here:
Ask for an S1 Application Form. They will then post it to your UK or Spanish address for you to complete and return. They should then send you the S1 certificate shortly thereafter.
Once you have the final S1 certificate, you must make an appointment with a Social Security office in either Granadilla or Santa Cruz. You can search for the office addresses here:
http://www.seg-social.es/Internet_1/Oficinas/index.htm (Look for CENTROS).
At the appointment you need to bring the S1 Certificate together with your passport, Green Residencia and Certificate of Empadronamiento and request a Certificate of Entitlement to Medical Care.
You can then take that Certificate to your local medical centre and register with a family doctor.
Non-pensioners (working age)
Short term visitors (tourists) to Spain who intend to spend less than 3 months here can avail themselves of the EHIC card. For more information or to apply for the card, click on the relevant link below:
Please note that the EHIC card is not intended for those planning to spend more than 3 months in Spain (i.e. residents).
In that case, it is necessary to apply for Residencia, under which applicants must demonstrate that they have either private medical insurance, a Spanish work contract or associated benefits or otherwise that the applicant is financially dependent upon a Spaniard or other individual who already qualifies under the Residency rules. Any of which will entitle them to receive appropriate medical care and/or to register with a local doctor/clinic.
UK or Irish Nationals now permanently resident in Spain should also note that when travelling back to their home country, they will technically require an EHIC obtained in Spain to receive free treatment back in the UK or Ireland. This is often overlooked, as some UK or Irish nationals who were ‘in the system’ for many years before moving to Spain automatically assume that they are entitled to free care in their home country for ever.