Guidance

Healthcare for UK nationals visiting Spain

How to get state healthcare when you’re on holiday or travelling to Spain.

Healthcare during the transition period

There will be no changes to healthcare access for UK nationals visiting or living in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland before the end of 2020.

You can continue to use your EHIC during this time, as you did before.

If you’re visiting Spain on 31 December 2020, you can continue to use your EHIC until the end of your visit to that country.

An EHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance. Make sure you have both before you travel.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

An EHIC covers state healthcare, not private treatment.

With an EHIC you can get medically necessary treatment in Spain on the same basis as a Spanish citizen. This means that you’ll get healthcare services for free or at a reduced cost.

An EHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance – it does not cover everything, such as mountain rescue or being flown back to the UK. Make sure you have both before you travel to Spain .

You may need to pay in full for treatment if you do not have an EHIC.

How to apply

Apply for an EHIC for free on the NHS website.

How to use it

Show your EHIC when you visit any state hospital or doctor. You cannot use an EHIC for private healthcare.

Find out what an EHIC covers in Spain.

Find an English-speaking doctor in Spain.

Replacing a lost or stolen EHIC

If you’re still in the UK, you can apply for a new EHIC for free on the NHS website.

You’ll need to apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) if your EHIC is lost or stolen abroad.

Travelling with a health condition

Buy travel insurance with healthcare cover for your condition. Your EHIC will cover medically necessary treatment.

Read the Money and Pensions Advice Service guidance for buying travel insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Bring any documents about your health condition or what medication you’re taking.

If you need to have treatment while you’re in Spain, you may need to pre-arrange it. For example, if you need oxygen treatment or dialysis.

Speak to your doctor in the UK for advice before you travel.

Getting prescriptions

You can use a UK prescription to get medicine from pharmacies in Spain.

Prescription medicines are not free in Spain. With an EHIC you get a reduced rate, but you’ll still pay:

  • 50% of the prescription price
  • 10% of the prescription price if you have a UK State Pension - you may need to show proof that you’re a pensioner to pay this rate

These prescription charges are non-refundable.

If you need oxygen therapy during your visit

You can get oxygen therapy with an EHIC, but you need to arrange this before you travel.

You must send a written request to the Spanish health authority in the area you plan to visit at least one month before you travel.

Find out how to request oxygen therapy in Spain. This guide includes:

  • a letter template in Spanish that you can download and complete
  • a list of contact details for Spanish health authorities

Bringing medicine with you

You need a letter to prove your medicine is prescribed to you if it contains a ‘controlled drug’. You may need to show this at the border when you’re entering or leaving the UK.

You may also need a licence for controlled drugs if:

  • your trip is longer than 3 months
  • you’re travelling with more than 3 months’ supply

Read more about travelling with controlled medicines.

You should also contact your nearest Spanish consulate before you travel to find out if you need to apply for a Spanish licence.

Travelling to have planned treatment

You cannot use an EHIC for non-urgent planned treatment. For example, if you’re going abroad to give birth.

You can apply for NHS-funding to have planned treatment. There are 2 ways to do this:

  • S2 route
  • EU directive route

Read the NHS guide to seeking medical treatment abroad for more information on the S2 or EU directive funding routes.

Healthcare for UK nationals visiting Spain from 1 January 2021

You’ll still be able to access healthcare through EHIC for visits that begin after 1 January 2021 if you’re either:

  • a UK State Pensioner living in the EU before the end of 2020
  • a UK student studying in in the EU before the end of 2020
  • a ‘frontier worker’ (someone who works in one state and lives in another) before the end of 2020, for as long as you continue to be a frontier worker in the host state
  • an EU national living in the UK before the end of 2020
Published 31 January 2020