green crossVisitors to Spain & Your Health Insurance Card EHIC (replaced old E111)

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will enable you to access the necessary state-provided healthcare in Spain at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free when on a temporary stay. The Spanish health authority determines what treatment is considered necessary and cannot wait until your return to the UK.

The EHIC also covers you for treatment of pre-existing medical conditions, although it does not cover you if you are travelling for the express purpose of obtaining medical treatment.

The EHIC also covers you for routine maternity care provided the reason for your visit is not specifically to give birth.

Visit the Healthcare in Spain website, which gives more information about using your EHIC in Spain.

Get Help in an Emergency

If you’re in a serious, life-threatening emergency, you should call 112. This number is free of charge and valid in all Spanish territories. The Spanish word for A&E department is “urgencias”.

How the EHIC works

The UK European Health Insurance Card is valid for holidaymakers and people on a temporary stay who need to use the state health system while in another EEA country.

Any treatment provided is on the same terms as an insured national of the country you are visiting, so if a Spanish national is required to pay a fee towards their treatment in Spain, customers would also have to pay the same fee.

Always take out comprehensive travel insurance when travelling with your EHIC and make sure you declare any pre-existing conditions you may have.

If you need to go to the local health centre or nearest public hospital during your stay, don’t forget to take your EHIC and passport with you.

In case of any emergency, call 112 or go to the nearest public hospital.

Who is entitled to the UK EHIC?

People on holiday or on a temporary visit to Spain, who ordinarily reside in the UK.

If you are on a holiday or a temporary stay in Spain e.g. you have a second home for a few months of the year, but still consider that you live mainly in the UK, you can use the UK European Health Insurance Card in Spain.

If your EHIC has expired, make sure to renew it online before leaving the UK if you are going on holiday or a temporary visit to Spain.

If you are a UK state pensioner / insured person with a registered S1 / E121 in Spain, the UK EHIC is only for use outside of Spain when on holiday within the European Union.

What If I’m already on holiday in Spain without an EHIC card and need a Doctor?

In this circomstance you can apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) from the Overseas Healthcare Team. You (or the billing department at the local health centre or state-run hospital) can request this by sending an email to OVERSEAS.HEALTHCARE@DWP.GSI.GOV.UK

What cover will I get with my EHIC card?

The EHIC entitles you to all medically-necessary treatment for the duration of your temporary stay.

What is considered medically-necessary treatment? This is decided by the doctor and will be given to you on the same basis as an insured resident in Spain, taking into account the nature of the treatment and the length of your stay.

Please read the information from the EU on Necessary Care here. There is also a Spanish version  available here in case you would need to take it with you to the local health centre or public hospital for reference.

It can include routine or specialist treatment and the monitoring of ongoing conditions, as long as the treatment can’t wait until you get home. You can also get dialysis and oxygen treatment, although you must organise this in advance of your trip with the public health authority that covers the area you are travelling to.

Can I use it to see a private doctor?

No! The card is only recognised in state hospitals and health centres.

Apply for your free EHIC here, before you travel


Any treatment provided is on the same terms as an insured national of the country you are visiting, so if a Spanish national is required to pay a fee towards their treatment in Spain, customers would also have to pay the same fee. In Spain, people pay between 10% and 60% towards prescriptions. However, if you are of working age, you will need to pay 50% on prescriptions with your UK EHIC and if you are a pensioner you will pay 10%. Pensioners should not be required to provide proof of their pensioner status.

If you are currently taking regular prescriptions in the UK and will need to acquire more during your stay in Spain, please make sure you request an EU cross border prescription from your GP in the UK before travelling. Find out what certain criteria needs to be on your prescription form from the NHS Choices website. If you are already in Spain and forgot to do this, please go to the nearest local health centre with your passport and EHIC and request a prescription from the GP.

Travel Insurance and EHIC

You are advised to take out comprehensive Holiday Insurance for visits to all countries, regardless of whether you are covered by your EHIC.

Keep your EHIC up to date

The EHIC is normally valid for three to five years and covers any medical treatment that becomes necessary during your trip, either through illness or an accident. The card gives access to state-provided medical treatment only and you may have to make a contribution to the cost of your care.

The EHIC has replaced the old E111. From 1 January 2006, E111’s are no longer valid. The quickest and easiest way to get an EHIC is to apply online.


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