Around 18 million British people visit Spain every year. It has become a popular source of both last-minute bargains and luxury holidays, as well as being easy to get to for short breaks.
This also means that the number of people who need to seek medical assistance in Spain is high! Previously, you could get a European Health Insurance Card to cover any costs involved. Now, you need a Global Health Insurance Card to use in Spain.
This guide explains how to apply for – and use – a Spain UK Global Health Insurance Card.
Why even bother with a Spain GHIC?
First, let’s address why there is no room for complacency.
One of the biggest reasons to visit Spain is to savour its incredible 5,000 miles of coastline, thousands of beaches and gorgeous sunshine. This, of course, leads to the risk of substantial sunburn or pool accidents. You would need to show your Spain GHIC card to get free treatment.
Spain is also famed for its great cuisine. Areas such as Costa Brava, and cities like the capital Barcelona, offer a wonderful selection of internationally respected restaurants, as well as authentic tapas. Let’s be honest though, even in Spain there is always a chance you will experience a serious stomach upset or even food poisoning, making your Spain GHIC invaluable!
Spain and its lively must-see cities – such as Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia – are also well known for their bars and clubs, which means many locations attract hen and stag parties. Sadly, slips, trips and falls when enjoying the country’s nightlife are all too common.
Maybe you plan to head to Spain’s quieter areas, such as the Canary Islands. Or, the patchwork of lush countryside, unspoilt villages and heritage sights in the country’s inland regions. Any road and boat travel or hiking expedition increases your risk of needing medical help due to injury and having to use your Spain Health Insurance Card.
What is a Spain UK Global Health Insurance Card?
Your GHIC card replaces the old EHIC system mentioned above.
The principle is the same though. It is based on a reciprocal agreement between the UK and countries in the European Union – which includes Spain.
A Spain GHIC card entitles you to free or subsidised health services, whether you are visiting for holiday or business reasons.
Once you have a Spain GHIC or Slovakia GHIC card, it will be valid for a few years and can be used for return visits to that country, as well as other EU destinations. As the Global Health Insurance Card scheme evolves, more countries may also be covered, such as Australia.
How do I make a Spain GHIC application?
Just like an EHIC, your GHIC application is processed by the NHS. You can go directly through the organisation’s website, or some people prefer to save time and get help from a specialist GHIC agency.
Obtaining a Spain GHIC – that you can then use in the other countries covered by the agreement – depends on proving your identity, address and nationality.
If you are part of a family group travelling to Spain, each person needs their own Spain GHIC card. It is possible for one person to apply on behalf of their partner, children and other family members though, as long as you can provide eligibility for each Spain GHIC.
Using your Spain UK GHIC Card
Once you have made a successful Spain GHIC or Slovenia GHIC card application, keep your card or family cards handy on your trip.
If you do need to get emergency or unavoidable assistance from a doctor or hospital, you must find one under the public health system in Spain. Your Spain GHIC doesn’t help you to meet the costs of private healthcare.
This website from the Spanish Ministry of Health helps you to find an appropriate health service provider: https://www.mscbs.gob.es/en/home.htm. You can also look out for ‘asistencia sanitaria pública’ or ‘asistencia del Sistema Nacional de Salud’.
With your Spain UK Global Health Insurance Card, your treatment should be free as will any ambulance transport you need.
If you receive a recommendation from a tour rep or hotel staff, please check that it is a public health care provider, not a private individual or facility. Also, show your Spain GHIC card or Sweden GHIC card as soon as you arrive at a hospital to avoid them automatically registering you as a private patient!
Emergency dentistry in Spain is not always covered by your Spain GHIC.
The benefits of having a Spain UK GHIC Card are subject to change. So it’s a good idea to check up-to-date information before your trip.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I lose my Spain GHIC, or forget to take it?
If your Spain GHIC card is forgotten, lost, stolen or destroyed, it is still possible to get free treatment while visiting this country.
You would need to contact the NHS Overseas Healthcare Services (+44 (0)191 218 1999) between the hours of 8 am to 6 pm, Monday to Friday. Using your national health number, they can verify that you have a valid Spain Health Insurance Card. Then, you will be issued with a Provision Replacement Certificate by email or fax. It acts as a temporary Spain GHIC card.
Do I still need travel insurance with a Spain UK GHIC Card?
Your travel insurance covers diverse risks on your trip. It is invaluable. Your Spain GHIC serves a vital but straightforward purpose. It avoids hefty bills for medical treatments, some of which are not covered by your policy. Also, some travel insurance companies insist that you have one.
Can I get free treatments abroad with my Spain GHIC Card?
The rules of the Spain UK Global Health Insurance Card are clear. It covers you for emergency and unavoidable health services. This includes any vital treatments for existing conditions, such as dialysis.
It does not offer you a way of choosing to get operations or procedures abroad, that you could have in the UK. For example, if you unexpectedly give birth while on holiday, your Spain GHIC covers you. However, you can’t use it for free healthcare if you opt to give birth in Spain.