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FAQs

Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions page. On this page you will find a list of the most popular questions received by the Healthcare Team each day, whether in the office or from one of our outreach events.

All of the information contained on this page regards general entitlements only. You should always check your personal entitlements directly with the relevant authorities. Alternatively you can contact us directly if you cannot find the answer to your question on this page.

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Where can I get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?

The country which insures you for healthcare is responsible for issuing you with an EHIC. For example, if you are working in Spain or in receipt of a Spanish state pension, you must apply to the INSS for your EHIC. If you live mainly in the UK and travel to Spain as a temporary visitor you should apply for your EHIC online here. If you live in Spain and are registered for healthcare with an S1 form, you should apply for an EHIC by calling on (+44) 191 279 0575 or emailing the S1/E121 EHIC renewal application form to nhsbsa.ehicenquiries@nhsbsa.nhs.uk.

Where can I use my UK EHIC?

You can use your UK EHIC in all countries within the European Economic Area except the one where you normally reside. For example, if you normally reside in the UK you would only use your UK EHIC outside of the UK on a temporary visit to another EEA member state. If you are a UK state pensioner living in Spain, you would use a UK EHIC in every EEA member state (including the UK) but not in Spain. Please note that Spain also includes the Canary and Balearic Islands.

Is the European Health Insurance Card only for emergencies?

No. The European Health Insurance Card covers all medically necessary treatment while you are on a temporary stay in Spain, not just emergencies. This means treatment that can’t wait until you return to the UK, as determined by the Spanish health service. Note that this treatment is provided on the same basis as that given to a Spanish-insured person, so you might be asked to pay for some services which would be free in the UK.

How long can you use your European Health Insurance Card for?

The UK EHIC is valid for up to five years and can be used (while valid) during a temporary stay within the European Economic Area. Check that your EHIC is still valid before you travel. Renewing your card is free and can be renewed up to six months before the expiry date. If you normally live in the UK, apply for an EHIC online here.

I'm a state pensioner living in Spain and registered with the Spanish social security office. What do I need to do to access healthcare within the EU (EEA countries including Switzerland) for temporary stays?

If you are a UK State Pensioner residing in Spain and have registered an S1 (E121) with the Spanish social security, you can apply for your UK EHIC by calling on (+44) 191 279 0575 or emailing the S1/E121 EHIC renewal application form to nhsbsa.ehicenquiries@nhsbsa.nhs.uk.

I'm a state pensioner/UK posted worker living in Spain and I want to return to the UK for a temporary stay or holiday. What healthcare cover will I need to present at the NHS if I need any medically-necessary care?

You no longer have to show your EHIC, but you have to show a copy of your S1 form instead at the GP surgery or in the Accident & Emergency department of your local NHS hospital. If you do not have the S1 form you have the option to ask reception or the billing department to call the Overseas Healthcare Team on 0191 218 1999 to verify that you do have a registered S1 in Spain. Please have your national insurance number at hand. If you are thinking of returning to the UK permanently then please read the information here.

I've decided I shouldn't use the UK EHIC to access state healthcare as I'm living mainly in Spain. How do I register for state healthcare in another way?

Visit our Living in Spain page. This will point you in the right direction regarding your correct form of cover, although you will need to check your individual entitlement with the relevant authorities. You will normally need to take any documentation to your local INSS office. If you are entitled to form S1 from the UK, you will also need to take a separate form for every family member. Other documentation will normally include official identification e.g. a valid passport, your residency and your ‘padrón’ certificates.

Is my Spanish healthcare card valid for the whole of Spain?

Yes it is. Even though the healthcare cards look different in each Autonomous Community, they are valid in the whole of Spain, including the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands.

I'm not entitled to an S1 form from the UK. Can I still register for healthcare?

You may be entitled to register if you are working and making Spanish social security contributions, are in receipt of a Spanish pension or benefit, or hold a residency certificate issued before 24th April 2012.

If I return to live in the UK how long do I have to wait before being able to access NHS healthcare?

Entitlement to free NHS treatment is based on ‘ordinary residence’ in the UK. Ordinary residence broadly means living in the UK on a lawful and properly settled basis. Citizens who return to the UK on a settled basis will be classed as ordinarily resident, and will be eligible for NHS care immediately. See our information on returning to the UK here.

Can I access healthcare in Spain on the basis of being a resident? If so, how?

Yes. You may be able to register for healthcare as a resident but only if you have been resident prior to 24th April 2012. The two other conditions to be met are that you have an annual income of less than 100,000€ and you do not have entitlement to healthcare through any other means (e.g. linked to a state pension or benefit). For more information please read here.

You can access the application form at this link. However, you will need to apply in person at your local INSS office (take the above documentation along with your residency, padrón and passports and photocopies of each one). Please consult the INSS directly for the full list of requirements to support your application.

If you do not submit an annual tax return in Spain, you may be asked to prove your taxable income from the UK (country of nationality). To request this information please contact Her Majesty´s Revenue and Customs on (+44) 135 535 9022 . You should ask for written details of:

  • your taxable income in the UK for a particular tax year, or
  • confirmation that HMRC have no record of taxable income in the UK for a particular tax year (you make be asked to fill in a form on your statement of income – please see here).

You must state that:

  • You are living or working abroad; and
  • You need proof of income, or lack of it, for an overseas tax authority.

Alternatively you can make the request in writing to HMRC at Customer Operations, PAYE and Self Assessment, Lynx House, 1 Northern Road, Cosham, Portsmouth, PO6 3XA.

I've heard the Spanish Government has set up a state health insurance scheme for those who can’t get covered through any other means. How do I apply for this?

If you do not currently have the right to state healthcare, and have been on the padrón for over 1 year in Spain, then you can apply for the ‘Convenio Especial’.The scheme is nationwide, but managed by each autonomous region. Policy holders will pay a monthly quota of €60 if they are working-age and €157 if they are 65 or older, regardless of pre-existing conditions. However, prescription costs are not included so you will need to pay the full cost of medicines from the pharmacy. For more information on prescriptions click here.

How do you get a UK public document e.g. marriage certificate 'legalised'?

A UK public document can be ‘legalised’ by asking the UK government to confirm that a UK public official’s signature, seal or stamp on the document is genuine (usually a Hague Apostille). You might need to do this if a local authority abroad has asked you to provide a document and they’ve said it must be legalised. For further information please click here.

How do you find out whether specific medications are available on the Spanish national health system?

To find out whether specific medications are available on the Spanish social security system, direct your enquiry to the Spanish Medications Agency who can be contacted, in English, at the following email address: smhaem@aemps.es. Alternatively you can search for the availability of your medication here. Please note that the availability of medications via the Spanish social security system changes regularly. If you have any questions regarding prescriptions, you will need to contact the Regional Health Authority, corresponding to the area where you live/you wish to move to. A directory of contact details for each Regional Health Authority can be found here.

How much will I have to pay for my prescriptions in Spain?

Spain has a co-payment system for prescriptions, which includes state pensioners. Information on the applicable rates can be found here. If you have a question concerning refunds on prescription co-payments you will need to contact the corresponding health authority to where you live. Further information from the Spanish Ministry of Health can be found here (Spanish only).

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