The Risks if you don’t have Spanish Residence Permit or Medical Card


Posted and filed under General Articles of Interest, Legal Paperwork (NIE, Residencia, Padron), Medical Care in Spain, Spanish Residency.


Over the past few days, we have been trying to help a ill Irish client who has lived here many years. She never obtained her Spanish Residence Permit or her SIP (Spanish Medical Card). She preferred to rely on paying for health care when needed and on the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card).

She never doubted that if needed the medical assistance would be there.

However in the past few days she has discovered that she needs urgent treatment and was quoted 16,000€. As the initial cost by the private hospital, plus costs for the follow up continuing problem, which is impossible.

Her doctor contacted us and asked us to obtain a SIP card within a couple of days to allow her to obtain treatment. operations and follow up treatment at the public hospital in Torreveija.

How to get a SIP card

However to get a SIP card, firstly you need a E121 form or S1 form from Ireland (or UK). If you are an old age pensioner, and that is not easy to get from Spain. You usually get it before leaving a country, although it is possible afterwards) nor is it possible super urgently.

We have to urge clients to never, to rely on paying for medical cover or a EHIC. When they are Residents and over pension age so entitled to state medical cover. As to access state medical cover you must have Residencia. And even for Residents and OAPS it seems it is not a given right to be able to get medical help, except for an emergency. And the seriousness can be argued and other things follow the initial care.

Contact us to apply for the Spanish SIP Card.

How to get the Spanish Residence Permit?

The Spanish Residency Permit is grants one permission to stay in the territory of Spain for a period of 90 days to 5 years without any employment obligations. You have to be able to demonstrate that you can support your self financially to live in Spain.

Irish Embassy recomendation

We contacted the Irish Embassy and they wrote to us saying the following:

As discussed, on the following link there is information on the Cross Border Directive, the Treatment Abroad Scheme and the EHIC: The contact details for the HSE are:

On the specific issue of healthcare, access to state healthcare in Spain is different to Ireland. And can at times be quite complex. As you may know, in April 2012, Spain introduced a healthcare reform law. The law affects who is entitled to free treatment under the social security system. Restrictions apply to both residents and non-residents.

We recommend citizens who wish to enquire as to whether they will be eligible for Spanish state healthcare to speak to their local health centre (“centro de salud”). As well as the local Information Office for Social Security, to explain their specific situation.

Irish citizens, including pensioners, can apply to have their Irish Social Security entitlements recognised in Spain, which then may make them eligible to apply for state healthcare in Spain.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is the pertinent authority whom you can contact to enquire about Irish Social Security entitlements,

Finally, to receive state healthcare, a person is required to have the Spanish Residency card and in their local area. Further information on these two processes can be found on the Embassy’s website,

What can Spanish Solutions do for you?

We are helping our client now all we can to obtain a S1 form, Residency and a SIP urgently. So they are not faced with a huge bill for their treatment in a public hospital in the country where they have lived many years. However, it is very important please for people living in Spain to obtain Residencia or pay for Private Medical Insurance. And not to rely on being able to travel back to their home country, or paying a medical bill or on their European Health Card to cover medical emergencies.


  • simon

    how to transfer (EU) resident card to permanent community resident in Spain before Brexit Jan 31 2020

    • Ian C.

      Hello Simon,
      We can take care of all of this for you.
      Applying for residency is important, but the transition period looks like it will run to Dec 31st 2020 rather than jan 31 2020. Our advice is do it now- Please get in touch and we´ll start the process for you.
      Kind wishes,

  • David

    This is so confusing!! I am uk resident age 63 still working and paying UK taxes but have an NHS pension and intend to buy a property in Spain in the next 6 months with a view to living there for over 6 months a year. How do I best protect myself now from medical bills in the future? I’m in Spain now for 3 weeks and could rent somewhere for 3 or 6 months and could apply for Residentia?

    • Nicola Ryan

      Good Evening David,

      Thank you for your enquiry. Exciting times ahead for you, what part of Spain are looking to buy in.

      In regards to the residencia process, at the moment, we do not know what changes the brexit will bring on 31st January 2020. There is talk of a grace period for people who have been staying in Spain prior to the brexit, this will allow these people to obtain their residencias but again this has not been confirmed by the Spanish Foreign Office as yet. If this is the case, we feel they will ask for Spanish bank statements, a padron and possibly historic padrons. Our advice would be to get these items in place as soon as possible.

      Please note that if you are a Spanish resident and are in Spain for more than 183 days of the year, you will be liable to pay your taxes here. If you state you are in Spain less than 183 days, the Spanish tax authorities have been know to ask for evidence of this and if this cannot be provided, a tax bill is issued. We would suggest that you have a consultation with a Fiscal advisor, here in Spain. A Fiscal Advisor will provide tax advice based on your current situation, giving you the facts to allow you to make an educated decision.

      You will also need to change your driving licence to a Spanish licence, being a Spanish resident doesnt come itself. But the positive fact is if you are paying your taxes here, you will receive free medical cover.

      We would encourage you to follow your dreams and not let the brexit get in the way, there are many Brits who have Spanish holiday homes here.

      Should you need any assistance with your NIE, residencia, securing your dream property or paying your taxes, please do not hesitate to contact us. we would be delighted to help you.

      We wish you the best of luck, kind regards

  • Craig Northam

    What a confusing world I find myself in!
    I moved from Australia to Spain 8 months ago and after a long process, now have Spanish residency (yay!) through my wife, who is an Italian passport holder.

    As a local employee, she has full medical cover; but I can’t quite fathom if I’m entitled to cover through my relationship to her or will have to pay in for the “convenio especial” on a monthly basis once I’ve lived here one year? I cycle daily, so am nervous of what happens should I have an accident…

    • Nicola Ryan

      Good Morning Craig,

      As your wife works, here in Spain, you will receive full medical cover as her dependant. To ensure this is in place you would need to visit your local Social Security office, we hope this helps.

      Kind regards

  • james ross


    i have had a property in Spain for 13 years but just holidayed here. I am now 56 years old and retired taking my private pension. Recently purchased another property while letting out our old property via AirBnB but have declared and paid that tax to the Spanish Authorities to avoid double taxation.

    I intend to live in Spain between 3 and 6 months a year, my question is what do i needto provide to gain my Residence Certificate but remain a UK Tax payer. Will a 90 day max travel insurance policy suffice



    • Nicola Ryan

      Good Evening Jamie,

      Thank you for your enquiry.

      If you do not intend to live in Spain for more than 6 months of the year, we would not recommend applying for residencia. When you apply for residencia you state Spain is your fixed abode, it is your home. You will also be liable to pay taxes in Spain and change your UK licence to a Spanish licence. If you become resident and live in Spain for less than 183 days of the year, the tax office can ask you for evidence of this and if they are not satisfied, you would be left with a hefty tax bill.

      We hope this helps.
      Kind regards

  • Pauline Mooney

    Hi I am living in Lanzarote for 13 years and want to apply for free medical here as I am a resident.
    I am from Ireland so what do I need from Dublin to do this .?

    • Nicola Ryan

      Good Evening Pauline,

      Thank you for your enquiry.

      You can apply for Convenio Especial, after being resident for one year. Please see a link to our blog, detailing this below:

      Please if your application is successful you will have to attend an appointment in person at the Ter­rit­orial De­part­ment of the De­part­ment of Health. We hope this helps.

      Kind regards

  • Christopher James

    Hi Nicola/all, this is an interesting (but overwhelming thread :)!). We bought a house in the Malaga province in July and intend to come out during each school holiday (We have two sons 6 and 3). We were told to go for residency, but the Health Insurance needed for this is nearly €2k! We are very worried about Brexit (what a stupid thing the UK is doing!!!), but 2K whilst we are not living there (at the moment) seems extortionate. Is there any other way? Do you recommend applying for resedencia?

    • Nicola Ryan

      Good Afternoon Christopher,

      We understand your concern.

      It may be best to have a consultation with a fiscal advisor to see where you stand tax wise before making any decisions regarding residencia.

      When you apply for residencia you state the Spain is your home, fixed abode. You also need to change your driving licence to a Spanish Licence and if you are in the country more than 183 days you will be liable to pay taxes here. The tax office can ask you for evidence of this and if they are not satisfied, you would be left with a hefty tax bill.

      We have no updates in regards to the changes after Brexit, as yet, as soon as we have any news we will notify all clients via a newsletter or blog, we hope this helps.
      Kind regards

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