EXPATS continue to be ‘confused’ about the Spanish healthcare system and often use the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) instead of registering as residents, the British Consulate in Spain has said.

Speaking at a meeting held in Alicante, Martyn Standing from the Consulate said many people wrongly use the EHIC to get medical help – which is leading to a strain the health service.

“There is a fair amount of confusion out there – and because of that confusion, we get an awful lot of complex cases to deal with in the consulate.

“And most of them are down to a little piece of plastic, the EHIC.

“A lot of people carry it around and use it to go to the doctors in Spain, but it is not necessarily the right way to get health care here.”

The EHIC card entitles visitors to ‘medically necessary’ treatment which can include emergency treatment, the monitoring of ongoing conditions and repeat prescriptions.

“It does not entitle you to anything that can wait until you get home.”

Standing stressed the point that the EHIC was for temporary visitors only.

“If you live here this card is not for you,” he said.

He added: “There are a lot of people who spend a large part of the year here but do not consider themselves to be residents – but when we have given them the correct information, do consider themselves to be residents.”


  1. I don’t see why this is causing a strain on the Spanish health service. As I understand it, the cost of treatment made by British nationals using the EHIC card are reclaimed by the Spanish from the British NHS.

  2. I don’t think they meant the Spanish National health.
    People are claiming against the UK National health,by using the EHIC card when they are resident in Spain and should have a residencia so they can receive there treatment through Spain not the UK. The EHIC is for short term use such as holidays or while you set up your residencia which if you are staying more than 3 months is a requirement in Spain I believe.

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