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About Emergency Services in Spain

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The state-provided healthcare in Spain is generally free of charge. However, in some parts of the country, particularly the islands such as the Balearics, it may be more difficult to find a state healthcare provider nearby. 

Emergency numbers in Spain
European Emergency Number 112
114 for text emergency number
Ambulances 061
National Police 091
Local Police 092
Guardia Civil 062
Fire Brigade 080
Sea Rescue 900 202 202

As an EU resident visiting Spain you must have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This will entitle you to free emergency medical treatment for up to three months. The hospital or clinic treating you will decide whether the treatment qualifies as an emergency. If you need to call out a doctor in an emergency, make sure you have a valid EHIC and ask for state-funded healthcare.

The EHIC replaced the old E111 in 2006. The card is not an alternative to travel insurance. It does not cover private medical healthcare or costs such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, repatriation, or lost or stolen property. It is important to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy. Some insurers now insist you hold an EHIC, and many will waive the excess if you have one.

Some hospitals, doctors surgeries and health care centres (centro de salud) will offer both private (privado) and state-provided healthcare (asistencia sanitaria pública) - it is up to you to inform them which service you require. They may also have separate surgery times for private patients.

There are certain non-EU countries that have reciprocal agreements with Spain and can get medical treatment with the relevant documentation, although private medical insurance is still advised and is essential for all other visitors.

Dental treatment is not usually available free of charge as all dentists practice privately.  A list of dentists (dentistas) can be found in the yellow pages (paginas amarillas) of the telephone directory. Dental treatment should be covered by your private medical insurance.

There are many pharmacies with staff trained to attend a variety of minor medical needs. Prescription and non-prescription drugs and medicines are available from pharmacies (famacias), distinguished by a large a green cross. They are able to dispense many drugs that would only be available on prescription in other countries. If the pharmacy is closed, a list of neighbouring open pharmacies can be found on the door. In other towns and resorts, there is always one pharmacy which remains open 24 hours - check this website to search for a pharmacy on duty in your area at any one time.

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How the system works

Similar to the NHS in the UK the state-provided healthcare in Spain is generally free of charge. However, in some parts of the country, particularly the islands such as the Balearics, it may be more difficult to find a state healthcare provider near by. 

As an EU resident visiting Spain you must have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This will entitle you to free emergency medical treatment for up to three months. The hospital or clinic treating you will decide whether the treatment qualifies as an emergency.

If you need to call out a doctor in an emergency, make sure you have a valid EHIC and ask for state-funded healthcare.

Some hospitals, doctors surgeries and health care centres (centro de salud) will offer both private (privado) and state-provided healthcare (asistencia sanitaria pública) - it is up to you to inform them which service you require. They may also have separate surgery times for private patients.

There are certain non EU countries that jhave reciprocal agreements with Spain and can get medical treatment with the relevant documentation, although private medical insurance is still advised and is essential for all other visitors.

Dental treatment is not usually available free of charge as all dentists practice privately.  A list of dentists (dentistas) can be found in the yellow pages (pagina amarillas) of the telephone directory. Dental treatment should be covered by your private medical insurance.

There are many pharmacies with staff trained to attend a variety of minor medical needs. Prescription and non-prescription drugs and medicines are available from pharmacies (famacias), distinguished by a large a green cross. They are able to dispense many drugs that would only be available on prescription in other countries. If the pharmacy is closed, a list of neighbouring open pharmacies can be found on the door. In other towns and resorts, there is always one pharmacy which remains open 24 hours - check this website to search for a pharmacy on duty in your area at any one time.

Family medical care & children

When you’re travelling with kids there are few essential items to remember, especially when it come to their health on holiday. Here are a few pointers to help keep your little ones out of trouble!

  • Make sure you have antibacterial wipes and/or a hand sanitiser spray. A quick wipe of surfaces or cutlery where you’re unsure of hygiene, or a squirt of hand sanitiser when there’s no washing facilities, can keep away some of those common holiday bugs.
  • Getting ill on holiday can be quite common for little ones so remember to pack a thermometer and some medicine to bring down fever and help them sleep. You may not be able to find what you are used to in the local pharmacy so take some with you to save on time and hassle.
  • Sting cream or an anti-histamine is an essential...the biting insects enjoy the heat as much as we do!
  • A small first aid kit is great with tweezers, antiseptic cream and plasters for those little accidents and minor emergencies!

The other major concern with children is the sun and heat. They may not be used to being out in the midday heat so make sure they are well protected, whether that is with cream, natural shade or clothing (hat, sunglasses etc). 

If you do need to visit a doctor or hospital whilst on holiday then make sure that all children are registered with the EHIC scheme (although this may not cover everything so make sure you have comprehensive family travel insurance as well!). Family cards can all be linked and renewed at the same time to make life easier.  In times of panic it is easy to forget small details to have a list prepared with the following information so you can hand it directly to the health care professional:

  • Take their passport & EHIC card
  • List their name clearly, plus age and weight
  • Any medications that children are taking (take these with you as well) & include how often, how they are taken & how long they have been taking it
  • A list of vaccinations and dates (specifically tetanus)
  • Any allergies they have - include asthma, hayfever, eczema, foods and other medicines if applicable)
  • Any recent medical conditions/bouts of sickness/surgery

Once you are with the doctor it is helpful to have a few words to describe the problem, in case they do not speak English. Have a translation book or phone app ready to use! Again it is useful to write everything down so you don't forget and ask them to do the same so you can review information, advice or treatment thoroughly.

Paying for treatment

Generally, if you are asked to pay upfront, you are not being treated under the Spanish health service and your EHIC will not be accepted.

You must present the EHIC card immediately and ensure that the doctor is not a private physician, there is no refund for private treatment under the EHIC scheme. In the event that you do receive private health care you must ensure that you have a private insurance policy in effect.

Dentistry is not usually covered by the health service and as such fees will not be refunded.

Prescriptions: State (EEA) pensioners (with proof of status) are eligible for free prescriptions, all other people must pay up to 40 percent of the total cost.

Hospital Treatment: Confirm that the treating hospital is not private; otherwise the patient is liable for the entire treatment cost. Present the EHIC upon arrival. 

Who to call & when

If you’ve been the victim of any crime, accident or assault, you need to report it to the Spanish police by making a denuncia. Crimes can be reported in either English or Spanish in different ways:

  • In person at the nearest police station (comisaría de policía)
  • Online at www.policia.es
  • By phone on 902 102 112 (You can report a crime in English on this line, they will then complete the report and later you can collect a copy at the police station they tell you.)