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Healthcare in Spain

The Spanish healthcare system works well, and it is often even possible to find English speaking medical staff. However, before moving to Spain you need to be sure that the costs of future medical treatment will be covered. Spanish healthcare is not free, but individuals who are covered by the State system pay only a small contribution towards the cost, depending on their personal circumstances. UK residents who visit Spain as tourists can obtain medical treatment via their UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), but once you cease being a UK resident, your EHIC is no longer valid.

Contact The UK Authorities Before Leaving

If you are in receipt of a UK retirement pension, the British government will continue to fund your healthcare when you live in Spain. Before you move, you should obtain a form S1 from the UK Department of Works & Pensions Overseas Healthcare Team (0191 218 1999). In Spain, you take this form to the local social security office who will issue a certificate. You present this certificate at your local health centre, who will arrange for you to be issued with a TSI (Tarjeta Sanitaria Individual). This is your Spanish health card, which you will need each time you collect prescriptions or visit the doctor.

If you are going to continue working in the UK whilst living in Spain, you should contact your tax office, who will give you advice based on your individual circumstances.

If you are planning early retirement, you should contact the National Insurance Contributions Agency to check how long the UK government will continue to fund your healthcare if you move abroad. Typically, cover under an S1 may last for around two years, but this will depend on individual circumstances.

Private Health Insurance

If your S1 expires and you do not qualify to join the Spanish system, you will need to take out full private health insurance. Health insurance providers also offer a range of supplementary policies that will, for instance, refund healthcare costs not covered by the State.

Working In Spain

If you are employed or run a business in Spain, you will pay into the Spanish national healthcare system and earn the right to treatment and benefits on the same basis as a Spanish national.

Salaries, working hours, holidays and workers' entitlements in Spain are regulated by the Government to a far greater extent than in the UK. There are different types of employment contract, from verbal agreements and temporary contracts that provide minimal job security, to indefinite contracts for those lucky enough to obtain them. Employment vacancies are advertised in the press, online and through employment agencies, but many jobs are found through networking. EU citizens are entitled to set up a business in Spain; the simplest way to do this is through a gestor, as the system is fairly complex. Finally, whether you plan to work for yourself or for someone else, good language skills will be a great asset.