Updated 6 years ago

If you need to go use any medical services in Spain, you will be asked to show them your health card. Do not make my mistake and wait until you have been rolled into the emergency room without a health card, to face the wrath of over worked medics. Its not fun, trust me. 



The doctors and nurses are all dedicated and hardworking professionals who are feeling the strain of budget cuts. Unregistered patients skew the medical workload while not being accounted for during budgeting, and medical staff resent this.

Don't be afraid, take it step by step and you will get there. A good rule of thumb while chasing the paper in Spain is to always carry your passport, NIE and social security document along with photocopies of all (I even carry a passport photograph but have not needed to use it yet). In order to register you will first need a 'numero de Social Seguridad', which is a social security number.

Step 1 Getting a numero de Social Seguridad

Why you need it: This number details all you tax contributions through your work. If you are working, you should already have this number.

You will need:

1. The document on which your NIE number was printed

2. An identity document such as a passport

3. Photocopies

If you documents are in order, you will receive a print out of your assigned social security number immediately. Find you nearest office here: http://www.seg-social.es/Internet_1/Oficinas/index.htm

Step 2 Registering as a resident and getting an Empadronamiento

Why you need it: This document is proof of you residence in a certain neighbourhood. This enables the council or local governing body to accurately calculate the number of people it needs to provide civic services for and claim a proportional budget from the government.

You will need:

1. A lease agreement with your name on it. If you do not have a lease agreement with your name on it you can ask a person who already has an empadronamiento to sign a document vouching that you live with them. Ask for this document at the office.

2. An identity document such as a passport

Ask at your local council office or medical centre to find out where to apply for your neighbourhood empadronmiento. If you provide the above listed documents you will receive a print out of your empadronamiento immediately.

Step 3: Now you are ready to register for the ‘Tarjeta Sanitaria’, Health Card
Visit you nearest medical centre to apply for your health card.

You will need:

1. Empadronamiento

2. Numero de Social Seguridad

3. Identity document

The medic will fill in a form with your details, get you to sign a copy and then the health card will be posted to the address on your empadronamiento. You will then be assigned a doctor as well.

Congratulations! You are now ready to take on the world of germs and accidents with a carefree toss of the head. Forget about washing your hands or walking on the pavement. Safety is for sissys without a health card!

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