If you are a tax-paying resident in Spain, you have the right to access the public health care system which includes hospitals throughout the country. The process is fairly straightforward. In three relatively simple steps, you can gain access to qualified doctors and nurses.
Why do I need it?
Well, having a health insurance card is a great safety measure, if for example you ever found yourself in an emergency situation. Also, while traveling within the country, this another precaution any savvy traveler should take. Also, although Spanish pharmacies have lots to offer, they can’t work magic, and seeing a doctor is a necessary evil. Although you can look into private health insurance, it’s not that necessary unless you have a more serious previous condition, are pregnant, or simply have a strong preference. Although things move slightly slower in the public system, the doctors are just as qualified, the facilities just as advanced, and the prices are much, much lower.
Who can apply?
- Students under 26 who are studying abroad in Spain
- EU Nationals
- Permanent residents
- Anyone working under a legal contract
What do I need to apply?
- You first need to prove that you have a legal social security number in Spain. The document you need to bring (plus 1 copy) is “Documento de Afiliación”, or your social security number. You will have one of these numbers if your employer has offered you a contract, and pays for you to have it. If you are here on a student visa receiving a scholarship or stipend, you will not have been assigned a social security number because you do not pay taxes.
- You need to bring your original and a copy of your “empadronamiento” which is the free sheet of paper you receive when you register your address with your local town hall. The “Certificado de empadronamiento” is important because the hospital you will be assigned will always be in your neighborhood. In order for the system to know where you live, they have to have your address on file, and only then can they tell you which hospital corresponds to your district.
- The application: you can download it here and fill it out.
- Your passport or DNI, national ID card.
Search for the corresponding center and apply for your card in person. You can locate your centro de salud here. You take your social security number, your padrón, your identification and your application to the corresponding center, and they´ll ask you if you prefer to pick the card up when it arrives, or if you want it sent to your home. If you don’t have a doorman, we suggest picking it up from the hospital, as it’s a very important document. Depending on the time of year, the actual card can take up to 2 weeks or a month to arrive. However, they will give you a paper to use as a temporary card.
Yes, actually. They’ll also ask you what time of day works best for you be it morning, afternoon or evening. They will also sometimes give you the option to choose whether you prefer a male or female doctor depending on the schedule you choose.
It’s as simple as that! If you have any more specific questions, leave a comment and we will try to help!