UPDATED: 20th October 2020
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.
N.B. Given the uncertainty over Brexit, UK Nationals are strongly recommended to now register their rights to medical care in Spain BEFORE the UK/EU Exit Transitional Period expires on 31st December 2020. Those applying afterwards will most likely still be able to gain access to medical care in Spain, but the procedure may become more complicated or additional criteria or restrictions could be imposed on UK nationals applying after that date.
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 your local INSS Social Security office. Appointments can be requested (or amended) HERE:
Click on ‘OBTENER CITA PREVIA PARA PENSIONES Y OTRAS PRESTACIONES INSS’
Then scroll to the bottom and choose the option applicable for you (either Electronic Certificate (Digital Signature), or Sin Certificado (No Digital Certificate). Then select the PENSIONES option. You also then need to answer a silly random spam security question at the bottom (e.g. what is 7 minus 2?)
You can also search for your nearest INSS office using the link below.
http://www.seg-social.es/Internet_1/Oficinas/index.htm (Look for CENTROS).
Due to ridiculous under-staffing at present (which they claim is due to Covid19) appointments might not be available at the social security office nearest to you.
At the appointment you need to bring the original S1 Certificate together with your passport, original Green Residencia and original recent Certificate of Empadronamiento (less than 3 months old). It is also recommended to bring photocopies of all of the above documents.
You will then be granted the coresponding Spanish Certificate of Entitlement to Medical Care (‘Documento Acreditativo de la Seguridad Social’).
You can then take that Certificate to your local medical centre and register with a family doctor. You should then receive a SIP medical card, which you need to show each time you visit a doctor or medical centre in Spain. This card does NOT have an expiry date.
N.B. Although there is no official confirmation on the Social Security website, it appears that some medical centres are requiring applicants to register and apply for their SIP card within 4 days of obtaining their Social Security Certificate. However, in light of the current Covid-19 situation and the difficulty in obtaining appointments at short notice, we do not believe that any such rules are being strictly enforced. However, it is worth enquiring as to local rules and practices when you collect your Social Security Certificate.
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.