Financial journalist Paul Burgin has kindly written a piece for Bremain in  Spain, explaining the current healthcare situation in Spain in light of the government announcement this week. The announcement differs for those S1 holders in Spain as Paul explains below.

‘You may have read stories on continued healthcare rights for retired British nationals in other EU states. Hopefully, this clarifies what is going on.


As EU citizens, retired British nationals rely on their S1 forms for free healthcare and subsidised prescriptions – and the UK directly reimburses the country they live in. If Brexit happens, the S1 will cease to apply. The UK may have to agree separate arrangements with each EU member state, including Spain.


In March, the Spanish government decreed that healthcare would continue as now to December 2020, with or without an EU Withdrawal Agreement. You can read the decree here.

But that decree is conditional: the UK must reciprocate for Spanish nationals living in the UK. If not, Spanish foreign affairs minister Josep Borrell warns that British immigrants’ access to healthcare will be limited.


The UK has also proposed that free pan-EU healthcare continues to December 2020. This has not been agreed, either with the EU or with Spain.

In that case, the UK’s ‘no-deal with anyone plan’ is to continue free healthcare for 6 months only, or 12 months if you are already undergoing treatment.

The UK wants to pay directly for your healthcare, but circumstances may mean you pay and the UK reimburses you. The NHS is writing to S1 holders in the EU. Download the pdf here or read its latest advice here.

There is no clarity on what happens after the 6- or 12-month period. The UK government also advises British immigrants to look into private healthcare wherever they live in the EU. That is expensive and may not cover existing conditions. Remember, not telling a broker or insurer about existing conditions may invalidate your cover when you need to claim.


Every Spanish resident has the right to universal healthcare. ‘Universal’ does not mean ‘free’. The convenio especial covers those not in other schemes:

–    Under 65:   €60/month     (increases at age 65)

–    Over 65:     €157/month

– Covers pre-existing conditions. No EHIC card.

– Prescriptions are not subsidised–you have to pay the full cost.

– You must have been resident (NIE, padrón) for at least one year. 

– Must usually be paid by direct debit from a Spanish bank account. 


– Ensure your details held by the NHS are up to date, including your address.  +44 191 218 1999

– Check details held by your local health service in Spain, including your address, passport and/or NIE.

– If you have an EHIC (Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea) card for travel, check the expiry date. You can register for a new one (quickly!), for free.

UK issued cards – click here  


Spain issued cards – click here

– If you live in Spain but use a UK-issued EHIC card to access treatment or medicines, you are doing it wrong. Register correctly for the S1 scheme on the UK number above or here.

– If you see misinformation on social media, please use the info above to correct lies and misunderstandings. Be polite!


Even if you no longer have the vote in the UK, you have a voice. Be polite! 

– Write to your MP where you last lived in the UK, here.

– Email Matt Hancock, the UK Secretary of State for health – 

– Twitter followers can message the UK Ambassador – @HughElliottUK

– Sign Brexit petitions to the UK government, here.

– Go to the People’s Vote march in London, 19 October.

– Join a campaign group:

Bremain in Spain

British in Europe

Brexpats – Hear Our Voice



– And support our 3 million fellow EU citizens in the UK.’

Many thanks for submitting this Paul.