The UK European Health Insurance Card is valid for holidaymakers and temporary visitors who need to use the state health system while in another EU country. If you are not normally a resident of the UK and spend less than six months of the year there, the Spanish authorities may decide to treat you as a private patient.

If you are a resident in the UK, you should apply for your EHIC before travelling to other European Union Member States. Please note – a UK EHIC is usually only valid for three to five years. Therefore you will need to reapply if it has expired. However, if you stop being a UK resident, you need to return your EHIC to the Department of Health immediately.

Treatment covered by the EHIC

In Spain, the EHIC covers:

  • All medical care that becomes necessary during a temporary stay;

Oxygen and dialysis treatment, as well as treatment for chronic diseases or a pre-existing illness. You should inform healthcare authorities at your destination in Spain before you travel, to ensure that supplies are available;

  • Routine maternity care;
  • 60% off prescriptions, and free prescriptions for pensioners (you may need to prove your pensioner status to get free prescriptions – see below)


Treatment not covered by the EHIC

The EHIC will not cover you:

If getting treatment is the main purpose of your trip. In this case you need to get permission from your UK local healthcare trust who will issue you with the form E112;

  • For long term, routine or planned treatment;

For private sector healthcare providers. You must use the State Health System;

  • If you are resident in Spain. If you live here, check with the Department of Work and Pensions whether you have any entitlement to free healthcare in Spain


Getting free prescriptions if you are a pensioner

Additional documentation is often requested as proof of pensioner status to get free prescriptions when on holiday. If you provide proof of pensioner status that is not accepted by the local health authorities, you can apply for a refund when you return to the UK. Send your receipts, your prescriptions and a covering letter to:

DWP International Pension Centre

Overseas Healthcare Team

The Pensions Service

Tyneview Park

Newcastle upon Tyne

NE98 1BA

United Kingdom


Alternatively, your nearest British Consulate can issue a certificate, valid for 3 months, confirming that you are a pensioner. For this you need:

British passport;


Recent DWP correspondence, addressed to your UK address, regarding payment of pension

The consular fee for this certificate is £34, charged at the consulate rate of exchange.

Applying for an EHIC

You can apply for your EHIC, free of charge, through the Department of Health:

Online :

By phone : 0845 606 2030 or +44 191 203 555 (if outside the UK)

By post : EHIC Applications, PO Box 1115, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE99 1SW

Dependents can’t be included on an EHIC, so each family member needs to apply for their own card.

Where to get more information

Detailed information on the UK EHIC can be found on

For general information on the EHIC for all countries, go to: