Moving does not only mean moving to a new home. It also means changing your primary health insurance, which can seem very challenging. In this article, you will find out about the Spanish Social Security and what to do to access it.

For the past thirty years, Spain has been accelerating the extension and unification of its social protection system, which is becoming universal.

  1. The Spanish Healthcare System
  2. Affiliation and Contributions
  3. How to access the Spanish Social Security and Healthcare System if you are a United Kingdom National

The Spanish Healthcare System

The Spanish Social Security understands a set of measures adopted by the State to protect its citizens against those situations that will never cease to arise no matter how optimal the conditions of the society in which they live it are.

The Spanish healthcare system comprises a general regime to which all employees in industry and commerce are subjected to. These special regimes are managed by the same bodies as the general regime which, with the exception of civil servants, differs little from the special regimes. Social security encompasses a contributory modality of an occupational scope and financed by contributions from members; and a non-contributory modality of a universal scope and financed by contributions from the General State budget.

In general, healthcare is provided free of charge to all persons residing in Spain, even if they have insufficient resources and do not contribute to the social security.

Contributive benefits include beneftis for: sickness and maternity benefits, disability, old age, death, unemployment and family benefits.

Non-contributory benefits cover health, safety at work, training, rehabilitation of disabled people, assistance to the elderly and marginalised people. They include non-contributory retirement or disability pensions, unemployment assistance and others. There isn't a minimum income guarantee at the national level, each autonomous community has introduced its own.

Affiliations and Contributions

Membership is compulsory and unique for the life of the person and for the whole system. Initial or successive registrations and deregistrations must formally reflect the person's working life. The deadline for deregistration from the social security system is three calendar days from the day after the cessation of employment.

Contributions, or the payment of contributions, are compulsory from the moment the activity of an individual is carried out, even if the affiliation, registration or deregistration has not been formally carried out. Anyone can check how long they have paid social security contributions. The report that accredits this information is the so-called certificate of employment history, which can be requested online, by SMS or by telephone. This certificate is useful to find a job, to apply for unemployment benefits or subsidies or to prove you employment status to a third party, for example, if you are renting a house.

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How to access the Spanish Social Security and Healthcare System if you are a United Kingdom National

Since the withdrawal agreement between the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union, the lives of the British people already resident and often retired in Spain have not been disrupted. However, for people who would like to settle in Spain, things are lesssimple than they used to be. 

If you are a UK national and permanently in Spain, you are entitled to free healthcare. Spanish legislation guarantees healthcare for all workers registered with the Spanish Social Security system. UK nationals are freely entitled to be treated in the health centres that make up the National Health System as long as they present the health card issued by the Autonomous Community of your place of residence. This protocol applies to any individual seeking for treatment

In this part, we will answer the following questions: Who can apply to the Spanish Social Security? What procedures must be carried out? and, where is it processed?

In order to apply for a Spanish Social Security Number, and receive all of its benefits, the applier must either be a citizen, an employee or a self-employed worker.

In the case an employee, or any applier, does not have a Social Security Number, the employer must apply for the number of the person he or she is going to hire.

The TA_1 form must be accompanied by the National Identity Card of the individual in question and the Foreigner's Card or Passport of the individual.

The application and all the documentation that was requested to the individual wishing to acquire a Social Security Number must be submitted to the General Treasury of the Social Security or to the Administration of the domicile of the citizen or the company in question.

When completing such procedure, be advised that the applier will have a maximum period for issuing and notifying the decsion on the application of 45 calendar days. If this deadline is not respected, the application will be deemed to have been accepted.

Furthermore, the number will be assigned by the Provincial Directorates of the General Treasury of the Social Security Administrations if the applier and the employer have failed to fulfil their obligation

Notably, when the applier begins an employment relationship, that Social Security Number will be converted into an Affiliation Number.

Additionally, after Brexit, UK pensioners resident in Spain still have access to healthcare in their place of residence as they still fall under the scope of European Union (EU) Regulations as provided for in the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement enforced on the 1st of May of 2021.

On another note, if you are a UK citizen wishing to travel to Spain for tourism purposes, you will be entitled to healthcare in Spain pursuant to the Social Security Coordination Protocol of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and the European Atomic Energy Community on the one hand, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, on the other hand, provide for this coverage with the British European Health Insureance Card (UK EHIC) or the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). In this case, you will have to contact the British National Health Service and issue the required documents as proof of entitlement.

As seen throughout this article, access to a Social Security Number is applicable to anyone pursuant to the regulations set forth above. Whether you are a British student, a British pensioner or a British employer, you will be granted access to the Social Security System, and, consequently, entitled to the healthcare system.

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