Medical emergencies in Spain

Updated 2023-07-16 10:15

You hope the worst will never happen, but if you ever encounter a medical emergency in Spain, it's good to know what to do and where to go for help, especially if you don't speak Spanish. With that in mind, this article will help you to be prepared if an emergency arises.

In case of a medical emergency during your stay in Spain, go straight to a hospital if you are physically able to, where accident and emergency services are generally available. If you are resident in Spain and registered for healthcare, you should present your medical card (tarjeta sanitaria) at the hospital or proof of private insurance covering your stay in Spain. A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is also acceptable as it gives residents of EU/EEA countries the right to free emergency treatments in state hospitals and clinics.

If you can't find your card, you should still go directly to the hospital in an emergency situation. You will be treated regardless of your ability to pay.

Note that following Brexit, the UK government launched the GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card) for UK and Irish citizens who are no longer eligible for the EHIC.


Check in advance which hospitals near you are equipped to deal with emergencies and work out the quickest route from your home. Many chemists have details of hospitals and clinics where emergency treatment is available.

Hospitals in Spain

When you arrive at the hospital, go to the reception desk, where you will be asked for your medical card, name and description of your medical emergency. The receptionist will decide whether you need immediate attention or whether you are able to wait. In this case, you will remain in the waiting room (sala de espera) until you are called. Typically, one person will be allowed to accompany you to see the doctor. The rest of your family will have to stay in the waiting room while you are being seen.

Emergency numbers in Spain

If you or somebody else needs urgent medical assistance in Spain, call the emergency number for medical services, which is 112 (no code is required). This is an EU-wide free number and can be reached from any phone, including your mobile, in any European country.

Operators speak English and Spanish. The 112 call centers also have interpreting services that cover dozens of other languages. If you can't speak properly or don't know where you are, the operator will pass on as much information as they can to the emergency services. This will include the location of your mobile phone or the landline address.

Other emergency numbers:

Health emergencies/ambulance - 061

Maritime emergency telephone - 900 202 202

Red Cross (Cruz Roja) - 900 221 122 


If you use the Spanish healthcare system and do not meet the criteria to receive free treatment or are not legible for EHIC/GHIC, you may have to pay for your emergency treatment. Therefore it is a good idea to sort out private health insurance to cover you.

Glossary of emergency terms and phrases in Spain

Accident - accidente

Emergency - emergencia

I need an ambulance - necesito una ambulancia

I need a doctor - necesito un medico

Heart attack - un infarto

Chemist - farmacia

Serious illness - enfermedad grave

Help me - ayudame

Useful link:

112 Emergencies

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