Healthcare for Expats in Lanzarote

World Class Health System

Spain and the Canaries still remain one of the most popular destinations for Europeans looking to retire abroad. Brexit has of course thrown a temporary spanner into the works, but if you look at the number of retirees who spend their state pension in the Spanish economy together with the number of Spaniards working in the UK, it is hard to imagine either country not coming to an agreement that will suit all parties.

Spain ranks 7th in the World Healthcare Organizations list of which countries provide the best healthcare for its citizens, with the UK coming in at 18th place behind the Netherlands.

Spain spends 9% of its GDP on health care, employing 4.9 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants, while the UK spends 6.3% of its GDP on healthcare and employs 2.8 doctors per 1,000 citizens.

At the moment all European Union citizens are entitled to three months free health care upon arrival just so long as they are in possession of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

The health card guarantees you free medical care in Spain at any state-run hospital, but does not cover you at private clinics. To apply for the card online, click the following link European Health Insurance Card

S1 form

If you are claiming a UK state pension, or long-term incapacity benefit you are eligible for free medical care in Spain and will receive the same treatment as a native Spaniard.

In order to do this, you need to apply for an S1 form from the International Pension Centre (IPC) in Newcastle.

Once filled out you must take the S1 form together with your passport, Spanish residency certificate NIE, and your Padrón (proof of residency) to your nearest INSS (Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social) office where they will issue you with a paper to take to your local healthcare centre (Centro De Salud).

On presentation of all the documents you will be asked to select a doctor from an available list, and while some may speak English many will not, so be aware that you may need to take a translator with you for appointments.

Following this, you will be issued with a card (SIP) that appears similar to a debit card with your name and NIE number on it and a magnetic strip that once swiped in a reader gives medical personnel access to your details.

Making an appointment to see a doctor is straightforward and can be done at any time by going to the main desk in the health centre.

Should you need to see a specialist for any reason you must visit your doctor first for a referral. Once your doctor has made the request your local regional hospital will contact you by telephone in order to set up an appointment.


Just like in the UK dental treatment in Spain is private, but not quite as expensive. Many clinics have set plans available that cover preventive care as well as emergency treatment.

Pharmacies (Farmacias)

Pharmacies are everywhere in Spain and easily recognisable by a large green illuminated cross. Also unlike the UK, pharmacists have greater powers and can sell certain medications such as antibiotics and asthma inhalers over the counter without a prescription.

Pensioners must, however, pay 10% of the prescription cost, while non-pensioners pay 40%.

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