Who is entitled to Spanish National Health cover and how can I apply?

To check the quick guide to getting your healthcare entitlement click here

  • Insured persons- those who are working or self employed and are making up to date Spanish national insurance contributions, plus their legal dependants.
  • Retired EU citizens who were working legally in Spain and have now retired
  • Unemployed in receipt of unemployment benefits.
  • Unemployed who have exhausted their unemployment benefits and others of a similar nature and not having insured status on any other grounds and residing in Spain. This scenario will not apply to foreigners who are not registered or authorised as residents in Spain.
  • EU citizens who have retired and are entitled to health cover from their own member state via an S1 document
  • British Visitors who have a valid European health Card issued by the UK can get emergency assistance whilst on holiday.

What happens if I stop working?

If you have paid contributions in Spain for 90 days during the previous 365 preceding days (ie you have worked legally or been self employed and paying Spanish national insurance contributions for at least 3 months in the preceding year), you are ONLY covered for the next 90 days after you stop work. This can be extended while you are unemployed if you register as job seeking.

If you were being attended to before you ceased paying contributions then your cover is extended to 52 weeks for the worker and 39 weeks for the dependant and 39 or 26 weeks if the assistance commenced after you stopped paying contributions . source: http://www.seg-social.es and http://www2.gobiernodecanarias.org/sanidad/

If you use up your period of entitlement, do not have a partner of family member who can cover you as a beneficiary, or are not registered as unemployed, then you can apply for “personas sin recursos económicos suficientes” which is basically says you do not have the means to provide your own health cover. This application is processed through your local National Health Medical Centre and is available to Spanish Nationals and Foreigners alike provided they have been resident and working in the Canaries or were resident before 24 April 2012, and do not have access to entitlement by any other means- but it is means tested.

When British Nationals apply for ‘sin recursos‘ healthcare, as well as having to provide information about income levels, and proof of residence, they will have to provide a letter which states they do not have entitlement to healthcare cover from the UK is produced by the Department of Health in the UK. You can request this certificate written in Spanish (as required by the authorities here), from the Overseas Healthcare Team on 0044 191 218 1999 ; have your UK national insurance number handy.

If you have not submitted a Spanish tax return then you will need to obtain a certificate from the UK tax authority to show your income or lack of income.

What about common law partners?

Common law partners can only be covered by the contributions of their partner if they have been registered as living together for a minimum of 1 year IN SPAIN and can prove this in writing with a certificate of convivencia from their local town hall.

Check List of documents needed to apply – click here


In Tenerife Children ARE NOT attended by the same GPs that deal with adults. There are often shortages of trained pediatricians, so you may be registered at a “sub” health center, but your children may have to travel to the central health center Or the pediatrician may have split surgery hours between several locations. Check with your local doctor’s receptionist when you register as to what the procedure is in your area, and make sure you keep up with new developments and seasonal variations.