Health and safety
- >How does the Spanish healthcare system work?
- >Where can I find the embassy or consulate of my country in Spain?
- >Where do I buy my medication?
- >Where should I call in the event of an emergency?
- >Where is smoking prohibited?
- >Is Spain a safe country?
- >Can you find services tailored for people who have Celiac Disease in Spain?
- >What you should know about medical care if you come from an EU member state.
- >What you should know about medical care if you come from a non EU member state.
- How does the Spanish healthcare system work?
The Spanish National Health Service has an extensive network of health centres and hospitals throughout the country.
The health centres offer primary health care services (family/GP services, paediatrics and nursing, with availability of midwives, physiotherapists and social workers). They are usually located within 15 minutes of any place of residence. If circumstances require, medical attention can be provided in the patient’s home.
Also, in rural areas and in small villages there are local surgeries open on certain days with visits from healthcare staff from the region.
Hospitals offer specialised attention, with access via referral from primary healthcare services. There are also accident and emergency services available at hospitals and some health centres.
You can check hospitals and health centres in Spain at the Ministry of Health website.
- If you are a citizen of the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Lichtenstein, you are entitled to medical and hospital attention through Spain’s public healthcare system, provided you have a European Health Card. This is not valid for private centres or when the motive for travel is a specific medical treatment. If you have left your European Health Card behind, you will have to pay any hospital, medical or pharmaceutical bills in advance –keeping the invoices–, and then seek reimbursement of your expenses from the organisation to which you belong. - If you are a citizen of a country with bilateral agreements with Spain (Andorra, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Morocco and Tunisia) you will receive free medical and hospital attention through the public healthcare system in Spain in the case of emergency due to illness or accident. It is essential to issue the certificate corresponding to your country. If you have left it behind, you will have to pay any hospital, medical or pharmaceutical bills in advance, keep the invoices and then seek reimbursement of your expenses from the organisation to which you belong. - Citizens of other countries: in all cases you will receive medical attention in an emergency, but this will be liable for payment. It is therefore advisable to take out medical insurance. In all cases you should contact the organisation to which you belong regarding the current requirements enabling you to receive medical attention in Spain. If you need any medication, remember that you’ll always find a chemist open in Spain, as each area has its own on-duty chemist.
- Where can I find the embassy or consulate of my country in Spain?
- Where do I buy my medication?
In Spain, medications are obtained at pharmacies. They are all marked with a green cross. You will get your prescriptions from your doctor. If you come from a country in the European Union, or your country has health agreements with Spain, you will have the same prescription drug benefits as Spanish citizens.
- Where should I call in the event of an emergency?
Dial 112 free of charge (valid throughout Spain). Service is provided in Spanish, and also in English, French and German in some tourist areas.
The emergency telephone number is 112 throughout the whole of Spain. All calls are free, and in tourist areas information is usually provided in English, French and German, as well as in Spanish.
- Where is smoking prohibited?
In Spain, smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public areas (including public transportation vehicles and buses).
It is also not permitted to smoke in health facilities (including outdoor areas that are part of its premises), any educational or training centres (except in outdoor spaces in universities and adult education centres) and playgrounds or play areas (outdoor spaces equipped for children).
There are a few exceptions to the general rule. Thus, in prisons and psychiatric hospitals, inmates and patients are allowed to smoke in areas outside of their buildings or in closed rooms for smoking. Also, a specific smoking area can be assigned in residential centres for the elderly or persons with disabilities. This prohibition does not apply to private clubs for smokers.
Hotels and similar establishments can book rooms for smokers, but these should be in separate areas with separate ventilation.
- Is Spain a safe country?
Spain, one of the safest countries:
In general terms, Spain is one of the safest countries in Europe for visiting tourists.
As in any country, there are basic security measures to bear in mind…
Try not to walk around empty streets or poorly-lit areas, and avoid street gambling stalls. Try to carry only the money you need for any one excursion. Take care of your possessions in crowded places such as public transport or department stores. When relaxing in public places, keep valuable objects like mobile phones and cameras out of view.
Do not forget advice from security experts: Prevention is the best cure for this kind of problem. If you need help you can contact the Police on 112.
- Can you find services tailored for people who have Celiac Disease in Spain?
In Spain there is a growing awareness of Celiac Disease and the importance of providing gluten-free food. Therefore, more and more hotels, restaurants, campsites, parks and recreation centres are prepared for the needs of people with Celiac Disease. You can find a list of them at the official website of the Federation of Associations of people with Celiac Disease of Spain. (http://www.celiacos.org/).
In turn, the Federation recommends that tourists who do not speak Spanish carry a piece of paper with this text written on it.
“Soy celíaco. Si consumo algún alimento que contenga trigo, centeno, cebada, avena, kamut, espelta o triticale, o bien sus productos derivados, puedo enfermar. Esto incluye la harina, pan, pasta, croquetas, dulces, salsas, algunos embutidos… Los celíacos podemos comer carne, pescado, huevos, legumbres, frutas, hortalizas, arroz, maíz, soja y también patata. Estos productos se deben cocinar sin harina, cocidos, a la plancha, a la brasa o bien crudos. Si durante la preparación de la comida le surgiera alguna duda, por favor consúlteme. Gracias.”
Translation of above text: “I have Celiac Disease. If I eat food that contains wheat, rye, barley, oats, kamut, spelt or triticale, or any of their derived products, I could become ill. This includes flour, bread, pasta, croquettes, sweets, creams and some sausages. People with Celiac Disease can eat meat, fish, eggs, legumes, fruit, vegetables, rice, corn, soy, and potatoes. These products must be cooked without flour, boiled, grilled, roasted, or even raw. If there is any doubt during the preparation of the food, please ask me. Thank you.”
- What you should know about medical care if you come from an EU member state.
You are entitled to free medical and hospital care:
Having shown your European Health Card (EHC), you will be seen by a GP at a local health centre or at your accommodation if you are unable to make the journey. If you need to see a specialist or go into hospital, the GP will give you the relevant medical certificate or referral. Accident and Emergency services are available at hospitals.
You will require your European Health Card (EHC):
With the European Health Card you will receive the same temporary healthcare services as any other Spanish citizen. The expiry date can be found on the European Health Card and it is valid in EU countries, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
It is available from the relevant healthcare organisation in your country of origin. Private doctors and hospitals in Spain do not accept the European Health Card. If you require private healthcare you must settle your own bills or take out an insurance policy that covers it.
When will forms be necessary?
If you need haemodialysis or any other type of specific treatment during your stay in Spain, you will need the E-112 form, as well as authorisation from the relevant institution in your country of origin. Remember that the following are not covered in Spain: dental treatment (apart from emergency extractions) and repatriation for medical treatment.
If you forget your European Health Card (EHC):
You will have to pay any hospital, medical or pharmaceutical bills in advance, and then seek reimbursement from the relevant organisation in your country of origin, providing all receipts.
Remember that the European Health Card is not valid if you have travelled to Spain in order to receive specific medical treatment. The same applies to all other EU countries.
Some countries do not use the European Health Card yet. If this is the case, you should travel with the relevant document from your country, which has been designated valid until the new card is introduced. In any case, you should contact the relevant office in your country of origin for full details regarding current requirements to receive medical care in Spain.
- What you should know about medical care if you come from a non EU member state.
Countries that have community regulations: Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. They have the same health regulations as the rest of the member states.Countries with bilateral agreements with Spain: Andorra, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Paraguay. You can also receive free medical and hospital attention in case of emergency due to illness or accident. For this you must issue the certificate corresponding to your country. If you have left it behind, you will have to pay any hospital, medical or pharmaceutical bills in advance, so keep the bills and then seek reimbursement of your expenses from the organisation to which you belong.Other countries:Although you will receive medical attention in an emergency, this will be liable for payment. It is therefore advisable to take out medical insurance.In any case, you should contact the relevant office in your country of origin for full details regarding current requirements to receive medical care in Spain.