Travel to Spain

15/07/2013 -- Mary Simpson
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Sun, sand, sangria, clubbing, Flamenco, water sports, Rioja, Madrid, sailing, Barcelona, horse-riding, mountains, trekking, Tenerife, paella, golf, sombreros, beach games, Seville, bullfighting, sea angling, Ibiza, Prado Museum, Picasso, Dali, sherry, tapas …

Medical and Health

Documents needed:  EHIC and passport.

Doctors & Dentists

Doctors:   Make sure the doctor/hospital knows you want state (publica) treatment and they accept the EHIC (​European Health Insurance Card) which entitles you to free or reduced cost medical care while on holiday in Spain. 

Alarm bells should ring if they reject the EU medical card and ask you to pay up front or for your travel insurance details instead.

Watch out for hotels/travel reps/taxi drivers who try to steer you to expensive private providers.

The EHIC (the old E111) doesn’t pay for private healthcare or repatriation.  

Dentists: Only emergency dental treatment is covered by the Spanish health service when using your EHIC. Most hospital emergency departments /health centres have a dentist.

Hospital Treatment and Ambulance Costs

Some hospitals and health centres offer both private (privado) and state-provided healthcare (pública).  Be clear which kind you want.

Sometimes there are separate surgery times for private and state system patients.

You'll need to be referred by a doctor for any hospital treatment. Pre-existing medical conditions are covered by the EHIC. Make sure it’s a public hospital. Double-check you’re not being treated as a private patient or you'll pay through the nose.

Ambulance:  Free.  By law taxi drivers must transport emergency cases to hospital if asked.


You’ll pay between 10% - 60% towards prescription costs, usually around 50% if you’re of working age and 10% for pensioners.

You must declare you’re in receipt of a State Pension to get the lower rate.

The EHIC card isn’t the same as travel insurance.  See What Can Go Wrong if in doubt about whether you need travel insurance for Spain.


NHS Choices

Foreign Office Travel Advice