Registering for Spanish Healthcare « Euro Weekly News

Portrait of a medical team at the hospital entrance. Credit: iStock/ Unaihuiziphotography

Clear understanding of Spain’s healthcare system is essential for European Union residents in navigating and accessing quality medical care effectively.

Spain involves two primary options you can choose from: the National Health System (called SNS by its Spanish name) or private health insurance.


Signing up for the SNS is crucial for getting healthcare in Spain. As an expat, you can do this at your local “Centro de Salud” (health centre). You will need to prove you live there and get a “tarjeta sanitaria” (health card). This card unlocks a bunch of healthcare services, like regular check-ups, seeing specialists, and urgent care.

Please be aware that when applying for the “tarjeta sanitaria”, they typically ask for documents like your passport and NIE, a certificate of registration from your local Town Hall issued within the last three months, a document confirming your entitlement to healthcare, and your social security number.

Are you eligible for SNS benefits?

The eligibility criteria for Social Security benefits are determined by the contributions made towards Social Security payments. If you’re a legal resident in Spain and you pay into Social Security – whether through your job or if you’re self-employed – then you are entitled to access the SNS.

Accessing SNS services

SNS services are available throughout Spain, with healthcare facilities ranging from local health centres to big hospitals. If you’re an expat, you’ll have a health centre assigned to you where you can go for regular check-ups or vaccines. And if you ever need special treatment or urgent care, individuals can access hospitals or emergency departments within the SNS.

Private Health Insurance exploration

Even though the SNS covers a lot, some expats prefer private health insurance for extra peace of mind. It’s worth checking out different providers to see what they offer – like coverage, costs, and perks. With private insurance, you might get faster appointments and access to treatments that the SNS doesn’t cover.

Customising coverage

Selecting insurance that suits your needs and budget is essential. European expats in Spain should consider their medical requirements and financial constraints when comparing plans to ensure optimal healthcare coverage. Understanding the enrolment process for the SNS, eligibility criteria, and private insurance options is vital for accessing necessary medical care while residing in Spain.

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