The Spanish public healthcare system includes a network of hospitals and health centres throughout the country. Health centres offer primary healthcare services such as family/GP services, pediatricians, nursing services, midwives, physiotherapists and social workers. Hospitals offer specialized services with referrals made either through primary care services or accident and emergency departments. Hospitals are usually modern and well equipped and the service is of a high standard. Nursing care is a little different in hospital in that, feeding and personal care is usually expected to be provided by the family.

To be entitled to free access to the public healthcare system you will need to have social security number and be making social security contributions in Spain, either as an employed or self employed person. A social security number is available from your local social security office (Oficina de Seguridad Social-SS).To locate your nearest social security office you can contact the Instiuto Nacional de la Seguridad Social. The contact details for the social security office in Algeciras are:

  • Carretera Cadiz-Málaga, 2A
    (Rotonda El Pandero)
    11202 Algeciras
    (00 34) 956 661 555
    (00 34) 956 661 812
    (00 34) 956 589 842

With your social security number you will be able to apply for a Spanish health card (tarjeta sanitaria) through the social security offices.



The EHIC (formerly the E111) is available to any European Union citizen and entitles you to emergency healthcare in the public healthcare system if you have an accident or suddenly become ill. It does not cover all medical costs, private treatment or repatriation costs.

The EHIC is a short-term solution that will provide some cover on arrival in Spain. It will not cover you for most types of non-urgent treatment such as treatment for ongoing conditions, maternity care or vaccinations and you should not rely on it if you are living in Spain. The EHIC is available from relevant healthcare organisations in your country of origin.

In the UK you can apply online through or by phoning (00 44) 845 606 2030.


There are numerous companies who provide private healthcare. An insurance broker will be able to compare plans and quotes from different providers of health insurance. This can save time instead of having to contact each insurance company directly. ASSIST can help you in this process as healthcare in Spain is generally expensive. However, as a special service to parents, ASSIST has an arrangement with the private health provider Sanitas for families at the school with very special benefits, offering very competitive premiums and coverage. Please contact Frederic for more information. Private health insurance companies in Spain often will not take on board clients with existing health problems. Not stating these initially may mean they will not cover you when treatment is required. Premiums for private health insurance in Spain can be reduced considerably if you are prepared to pay a high excess if treatment is required.

One thing to add is that many families join Helicopteros Sanitarios, which is a 24-hour home doctor visit service. They also offer temporary coverage for visitors. Their doctors speak good English. : As an ASSIST member call Inma for registration:  678466513


Farmacias (chemists) are identified by a neon lit green cross and supply a wide range of over the counter medicines without a prescription. Spanish pharmacists are highly trained and are a great resource as they provide free medical advice for minor ailments. Outside regular business hours you can go to a 24-hour chemist (listed in the local newspaper or displayed in the chemist´s window).


Some non-European countries have health agreements with Spain. These include: Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Sweden, Morocco and some others. If you are a national of one of these countries you may be eligible for free medical care in cases of emergencies or accidents. You need to present the corresponding health certificate from your country of origin to obtain treatment. Contact the public health service provider in your country of origin or the Spanish Embassy in order to obtain further information and check eligibility.



Dental treatment is not provided under the state system, except in the case of emergency extractions, so you must pay for dental treatment unless your private medical insurance covers dental work.


Even if the destination country has a socialised healthcare system, not everyone may be eligible for coverage. This may require an individual policy to protect the insured worldwide, including medical protection and evacuation services. ASSIST can provide quotes through major brokers at preferential rates for the school community.