UPDATED: 18th January 2021
How do foreigners obtain or register for medical care in Spain?
The following rules apply for citizens of the EU and UK Nationals. For other nationalities, different rules apply.
VISITORS & TOURISTS
Visitors and tourists visiting Tenerife essentially have 3 options for obtaining medical care in Spain.
- Paying Privately for medical care
- Taking out travel/medical insurance from your home country that covers visits to Spain
- Obtaining a EHIC / GHIC card from your home country before you travel.
Information regarding EHIC and GHIC for UK and Irish Nationals:
Please note that the EHIC or GHIC cards are 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, or a Spanish work contract or associated benefits, plus other financial criteria. For more information on applying for Residencia in Tenerife, click HERE.
UK or Irish Nationals who are 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.
PERMANENT RESIDENTS IN TENERIFE
To obtain medical care in Tenerife, foreigners basically have 4 options:
- Pay privately for medical care
- Take out Private medical Insurance
- Have a Spanish employment contract / register for self-employment / Be a Company Director paying Social Security Contributions
- Pensioners may register for free state medical care
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 a personal attendance appointment with your local INSS Social Security office, or apply using your Digital Certificate if you have one.
N.B. At the time of writing, getting a personal attendance appointment in Tenerife was proving almost impossible due to Covid staffing cutbacks and restrictions. Short of waiting patiently until appointments become available again, the only obvious answer is to apply for a Digital Certificate, which enables you to carry out a wide variety of legal and administrative applications, including registering S1 forms with Social Security. To find out more about obtaining a Digital Certificate, click HERE
Personal attendance appointments can be consulted/requested (or amended) HERE:
Then 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.