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Home arrow Information Section arrow Our experience of registering with the Spanish Health service
Our experience of registering with the Spanish Health service
Written by June Constable   
Monday, 01 December 2008
When preparing to come and live in Spain  we initially looked at the Department of Health website ¹ this gives you considerable information about what to do when emigrating and also about receiving your state pension. 

At the time of our planned move to Spain in 2006, my husband and I were both 62yrs old and I was receiving a state pension from the Pension Services in Newcastle. I decided to contact them and ask about receiving my pension in Spain and they also told me they dealt with the form needed to register with the Spanish Health authority and gave me the number for Pension Service International ² telephone no. + 44 191 218 7777.  I was told that as I was receiving a state pension I could receive free healthcare with the Spanish health system. I enquired about my husband as he would not be receiving his state pension until aged 65yrs and was told he would also be able to receive free healthcare in Spain as my dependant, this I was told is normally for about 18 month to 2 years at the discretion of the Spanish Authorities and hopefully would cover him until aged 65yrs when he would be receiving his own pension and able to claim the free healthcare in his own right. 

About 6 weeks before leaving England we were sent two forms called E121 one for myself and one for my husband stating he was my dependant. The letter with the forms told us to take the forms to the Nacional de Seguridad Social (INSS) and also to take identity ie. Passport, birth certificate and NIE number to register. The INSS is located- from the bus station roundabout, take the Medina Sidonia road and turn first left, go to the large building at the end. There we received a Social Security number (on the first floor) and further forms (on the ground floor) to take to the Centro de Salud in Chiclana opposite the Post Office. At this stage we took an interpreter with us as we felt it was easier given  our Spanish was limited at that time, despite that they still got our information wrong and only registered us as ‘temporary’ so we had to go back to get that changed, it’s a good idea to check everything and make sure they register you as a pensioner otherwise you receive a blue prescription form from the Doctor and have to pay for your medicines at the Farmacia,  the pensioners prescription form is red. You will be asked to choose a doctor from a list.

After about 6 months you should receive a Tarjeta Sanitaria Individual, a green card with your name, NIE number and social security number on it ( ours took about 18 months to arrive not sure why!). If you don’t get it within that time it’s best to go back and check with them as to where it is. In the meantime take your registration details with you if you want to make an appointment with the doctor. 

This card can also be used to get repeat prescriptions, you go to your Doctor and he will put your medication details onto the card from the computer and all you have to do is take the card to any Farmacia and they put the card into their computer and will give you the medication, you will need to go back to the doctor about every three months to get the card revalidated. 

It is extremely important that when your dependant reaches pension age that they apply to the Pensions Service in England to get an E121 in their own right as if not you can be taken off the Spanish health service and may have to pay privately for healthcare. We know someone that this happened to.  

Making an appointment with the Doctor can be difficult as we had to keep going in and waiting in a queue for a long time then go back again for the appointment, but there is a website³  where you can book an appointment online, print the page and take it with you, it’s much easier!  

Your E111 or now called EHIC must be returned to England as you cannot use it once you are registered on the Spanish Health Service. You will need to get a Spanish one, again from the Nacional de Seguridad Social but be aware! as it only last for one year as we found out and you have to renew it annually unlike the English one.

We believe that you can register at any Centro de Salud i.e. your local one. You may be referred to a specialist or for an X-ray, these are located at La Longuera near the Blue Bridge, there is an Accident & Emergency Dept. there as well. 

This information is only from our experience and if anyone knows of anything different or would like to add to it then please do so.

Editors Notes:

Further information can be found at the following websites:

1.  The UK National Health Service Website - Moving Abroad

2.  Pension Service 

3.  Online Appointments.  Junta de Andalucia website where you can find out more about  local health services and make your GP appointments online. (Only in Spanish)

The local Social Security Office (INSS) is situated at:

View location with Google Maps 

c/ Hoyo del Membrillo, 5-7

Teléfono(s): 956 409614


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