How to go about making sure you have the medical services you need in Spain…

The Spanish Health Service offers an extensive network of hospitals and health centres throughout the country, Health centres offer primary health care services and hospitals more specialised attention. To receive medical treatment, those enrolled in the Spanish social security programme should visit a public health centre (centro de salud) in their area of residence (normally located within 15 minutes of any place of residence), or their general practitioner (médico de cabecera). They will be referred to a specialist if necessary, however, there can be waiting lists to see specialists and for non-urgent operations. In rural areas health centres are only open on certain days.

Lists of English-speaking health professionals can be found at many tourist offices and through Embassies or Consulates.

All doctor’s offices must provide the leaflet Carta de Derechos y Deberes(Charter of Rights and Obligations), outlining the services patients are entitled to.

Medical Emergencies

In case of an emergency go directly to a hospital, where emergency services are generally available. Casualty or A&E departments are called ‘Urgencias’.

A social security card, a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or proof of private insurance should be presented at the hospital. The EHIC card gives the right to free emergency treatment for residents of EU/EEA countries in state hospitals or clinics only. Treatments not qualifying as an emergency are not free.

Bilateral agreements exist with some countries such as Peru, Paraguay, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil and Andorra. Citizens from these countries may benefit from free medical treatment in cases of medical emergencies or accidents. Citizens of other countries should have private medical insurance when travelling to Spain.

  • For emergency services, Tel: 112


Pharmacies (farmacias) are widely available and can be identified by a large green cross signage. In order to exercise their various professional activities, pharmacists must register with the appropriate provincial Pharmaceutical Association. All of the Pharmaceutical Associations form part of a national body, the Consejo General de Colegios Oficiales de Farmacéuticos (General Spanish Council of Pharmacists). Registered pharmacists are able to provide first line care and consultation.The association’s website provides useful information in English, including health advice and a vaccination calendar.

Pharmacies are generally open from Monday to Friday from 09:30 to 14:00 and 17:00 to 21:30, and Saturday 09:30 to 14:00. Information about pharmacies open 24 hours a day (Farmacia de guardia) can normally be found on the window or doors of any pharmacy.

Dental Procedures

Dental treatment is not covered by social security. Private health insurance can cover dental treatments if this has been opted for in the policy.