Living in Spain

Health care…

The vast majority of people in Spain are covered for health treatment under the social security system, though the more affluent also take up supplementary private health insurance.

When living and working in Spain you will be paying social security contributions to the state and be entitled to free medical cover, the equivalent to the English NHS. You will be provided with a social security medical card which you will need to present to doctors and hospitals when necessary.

If you retire to Spain, before your departure from England you will need to obtain an E121 form from the DSS, once you arrive here, you should then present this document to your nearest social security office and they will issue you with a social security medical card which will entitle you to free general medical treatment.

When travelling on holiday to Spain for short periods of time (up to 3 months) you should obtain an E111 form from your local Post Office, this will cover you for general medical treatment whilst you are away. It is a good idea to inform your friends and family of this before they come and visit you here in Spain.

Spain now offers excellent standards of medical care, and boasts numerous newly built hospitals, medical centres and local doctors’ surgeries, all with up to date facilities and equipment.

NIE and Residency permits…

Being a UK resident you will need a NIE number (número de identificación de extranjeros, or foreigner’s ID number) before you can purchase a property here in Spain. This number will also allow you to open Bank accounts, buy a car, find employment etc.

If you are working legally in Spain and paying the corresponding taxes you are no longer required to have a residence permit (residencia) Residents permits are now only issued to those who are pensioners. As proof of residency you can either apply every year to the Hacienda for a certificate that lasts a year or apply for a certificate of residency from your local Police Station (Policía National).


There are private international schools in most major towns and cities, where your child can receive lessons in English. Some of these schools also teach UK exam courses (GCSEs and A Levels) but most use the International Baccalaureate or the Spanish bachilllerato syllabuses. Price varies, but overall private education in Spain is cheaper than in the UK.

In terms of integration into Spanish society though, it may be better for your children to attend a Spanish state school. These have improved tremendously in recent decades and are now of a comparable quality with those in other EU countries.

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