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Your Healthcare - people who are applying for a visa or residency



Who is this guide for? 

This guide gives an overview of the requirements for health cover for people who are moving to Spain via a visa or residency application. 

The following information will help you understand what you need to do to make sure you have access to the healthcare that best suits you and which meets other requirements. This overview document is supported by more detailed resources available on this website including detailed guides on the different ways in which to apply for residency in Spain. 


What health insurance do I need for a visa or residency application? 

Whether applying for a Non-lucrative Visa, a Golden Visa or a Student Visa - you need to have comprehensive health cover that is equal or superior to that provided by the Spanish public health service. 


For both the Non-lucrative visa and Golden Visa you must show that you have private health insurance for the whole year - with no excess or “co-payments” unless you can provide an S1 form (see below). 


For the Student Visa - you must show you have insurance that covers the full duration of your studies in Spain which has no excess or “co payments”. 


The advantages of private medical insurance include convenience and speed of access to health services as well as being able to access services that are not covered by the state system. For British and many other English speaking foreign nationals living in Spain, another advantage of private health insurance is that you may be more able to specify that you need to see a doctor who understands and speaks English. Needing to see a doctor can be stressful enough at the best of times and negotiating the language barrier can make that much worse. Even if your Spanish is very good, medical terminology can be confusing and it is important to understand everything your doctor tells you. 


Age in Spain’s healthcare advisor can help you with your public and private healthcare options, instant quotes and comparisons to suit your requirements, including people over 70 and those with preconditions. Also, if you want an English speaking medical service, the option for international travel cover and/or help with arranging a Spanish medical certificate for a visa application. Contact health@ageinspain.org for more information


How to choose the best private insurance policy for you 

What you need to check when buying private health insurance 

- Does the policy cover me in the whole of Spain and the islands? This is a visa requirement. Some companies do not have services in all areas and this is important, especially if you may be visiting other parts of the country. 

- Is the cover equal or superior to the Spanish public health system (this is a visa 

requirement)? 

- Can you access services in your language? 

- What is not included? (eg pre existing medical conditions, consequences of previous accidents, work related accidents, abortions, aesthetic surgery) 

- Are there limits on health expenses or the amount of days hospital admittance the policy covers per year? 

- What happens if you are diagnosed with a serious illness? Could they cancel your policy? 

- What is the age limit for new members?


Pensioners and others entitled to the S1 form 

As from December 2021 the requirements for pensioners to demonstrate that they have appropriate healthcare has changed in some Spanish Consulates. The S1 form should be accepted as proof of health cover for a visa application but we advise you to check with your local consulate in advance. 

Once you have received your residence permit, you will be able to register your S1 form at your local social security office and will be entitled to health cover under the public health system. 

You may decide to take out a private health insurance policy to supplement your healthcare in Spain but in this case you could opt for a policy with “co-payments” or an excess which is usually quite a bit cheaper and is a popular option for many people who wish to have quick and easy access to English-speaking doctors of their choice. 


Options after one year of residence The Convenio Especial 

After being resident in Spain for one year - you may choose to pay into the public health system through the “Convenio Especial”. 

The Convenio Especial allows people who have been registered on their local padrón (see below for more information about how to register) for at least one year to access the state Spanish healthcare system by paying a monthly fee. You can find out more about registering for the Convenio Especial on the healthcare pages of your autonomous region’s website. 

You cannot pay into the Convenio Especial if the UK is paying for your healthcare, for example through an S1 form. 


You may decide to retain your private health insurance policy but you can change it to a policy that has “co-payments”. This is usually quite a bit cheaper and is a popular option for many people who wish to continue having quick and easy access to English speaking doctors of their choice.


The Pros and Cons of Private Healthcare

The Pros

The Cons

You can choose your GP/specialist

Pre-existing medical conditions may not be covered

You can access specialist visits directly without having to be referred by your GP

There is usually an age limit for new members

You can choose English speaking health professionals

Not all insurance companies can offer services in all areas - it is important to check what services are available in your area

Much shorter waiting times for doctor/specialist visits or treatments


You can get a second or even third opinion


Often includes international travel insurance for medical costs abroad



Before you go! We absolutely depend upon the vital support of people like you to ensure that our services are freely available for everyone who needs help.


Did you find this free guide useful?

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