Health care and security in Spain, Germany

Spain’s National Health System has a dense network of health centres and hospitals throughout the country.

The health centres provide basic care (family medicine, paediatricians and nurses as well as midwives, physiotherapists and social workers). If necessary, medical care is also provided at the patient’s home.

In the countryside and in small towns there are doctor’s surgeries where the doctors of the area hold regular consultation hours.

The hospitals are responsible for specialist medical care. The primary care physicians issue the referral. There is also an emergency service in hospitals and certain health centres.

You can find information about hospitals and health centres in Spain on the website of the Ministry of Health, Consumers and Social Affairs.

Where is the nearest Spanish embassy or consulate?

Where can I buy medicine?

In Spain, medicines are sold exclusively in pharmacies. These are marked with a large green cross and are therefore easy to recognise from the street. The prescriptions for the required medicines are issued by the doctor. If you are an EU citizen or a citizen of a country with which Spain has an agreement, you are entitled to the same benefits as Spanish citizens.

Who can you call in an emergency?

The free emergency number 112 (valid throughout Spain). This number can identify the location of the caller and has long-distance translations into different languages.

Restrictions for smokers

In Spain, smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public spaces (including public and collective transport vehicles). Smoking is also prohibited in health centres (including open-air areas), educational centres (with the exception of open-air areas in universities and adult education centres) and children’s playgrounds (open-air areas for minors). The following exceptions exist. Private smoking clubs are also not affected by the ban. Hotels and similar establishments may offer smoking rooms, but these must be located in separate areas of the building and equipped with independent ventilation.

Is Spain a safe country?

Spain, one of the safest countries:

Overall, Spain is one of the safest countries in Europe.

As in any other country, there are minimum security measures.

It is recommended to avoid deserted streets, poorly lit areas and street gambling. It is advisable to carry only as much money as you need for your trip. Special care should be taken in crowded places such as public transport or large department stores. Do not leave valuable objects such as mobile phones or cameras unattended in public places.

Follow the advice of public safety experts: prevention is the best way to avoid problems in this area. In addition to calling the police at 112, you can find more information about AlertCops, an interactive crime warning channel.

Information for people with celiac disease in Spain

There is a growing awareness in Spain of celiac disease and the supply of gluten-free foods. As a result, more and more hotels, restaurants, holiday camps and amusement parks and centres are prepared to meet the needs of coeliac sufferers. A list of these facilities can be found on the official website of the Spanish Federation of Celiac Disease Associations: The Federation recommends that tourists who do not speak Spanish carry a letter with the following or similar text: “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 embut > Translation of the above text: I suffer from celiac disease. If I eat a food that contains wheat, rye, barley, oats, kamut, spelt or triticale, or a product made from them, I may become ill. This includes flour, bread, noodles, croquettes, sweets, sauces, certain types of sausage, etc. Celiac sufferers can eat meat, fish, eggs, pulses, fruit, vegetables, rice, corn, soya and potatoes. These products should be cooked, fried, grilled or raw without flour. If you have any questions during preparation, please contact me. Thank you.

What you as an EU citizen should know about healthcare.

You are entitled to free medical care and hospitalisation:

If you are unable to travel, treatment will be provided by a family doctor at the health centres or directly at your place of stay on presentation of the European Health Insurance Card. If a specialist or transport to hospital is necessary, the doctor will issue a certificate or referral. The health centres have emergency rooms.

You need the European Health Insurance Card:

The European Health Insurance Card entitles you, like the rest of Spanish citizens, to medical treatment during a temporary stay. The validity period is shown on the European Health Insurance Card. It is valid in the countries of the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

The European Health Insurance Card is not accepted in the practices of private doctors or in private hospitals in Spain. If you wish to receive medical treatment in these private centres, you must pay the costs yourself or take out insurance to cover this type of service. Click on this link to find out where you can obtain your European Health Insurance Card: European Health Insurance Card

When you need forms:

For programmed medical treatments, you will need the S2 form as well as the express consent of your national insurance carrier. You should be aware that dental treatment is not covered in Spain (except for the urgent extraction of a tooth). Return transport in the event of illness is not included.

If you have forgotten your European Health Insurance Card:

In this case, you must advance the costs of the hospital, doctor and medication yourself. You can then have your national social security institution reimburse your expenses on presentation of the bills.

It should be noted once again that the European Health Insurance Card is not valid if you go to Spain for special medical treatment (the same applies to all other EU countries).

In any case, we recommend that you check with your national social security institution about the measures necessary to obtain medical treatment in Spain.

What you as a non-EU citizen should know about health care.

Countries that have concluded an agreement with the EU: Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Citizens of these countries receive the same medical care as EU citizens in the event of a medical emergency or accident. Countries that have a bilateral agreement with Spain: Andorra, Chile, Morocco, Peru and Tunisia. For citizens of these countries, medical care and hospitalisation are free of charge if they are involved in an emergency or accident and have the appropriate certificate from their country. If you do not have the appropriate certificate with you, you must advance the costs for hospital, doctor and medication yourself. You can then have your national social security institution reimburse your expenses on presentation of the bills. You can find out about the bilateral agreements on the Spanish Social Security website. Other countries: In the event of an emergency, you will always receive medical care, which must be paid for, so it is advisable to take out health insurance. In any case, we recommend that you check with your national social security institution about the measures you need to take to obtain medical treatment in Spain.

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Christina Cherry
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