Campaign targeting British expats for the correct use of EHIC in Spain

British expats being targeted by a campaign to teach them about the correct use of EHICs are being urged to make use of the campaign while they can as it tours across Spain.

The campaign has been running since last September and has successfully raised awareness of the correct usage of EHICs (European Health Insurance Cards) and is set to continue through the autumn to December in order to allow more expats to take up the opportunity to clear up any confusion regarding how and when they should be used.

It’s led on behalf of the UK Department of Health and will educate participating expats in the form of seminars, held at various venues across the country.

The campaign was set up after recent changes to the Spanish state healthcare system on top of news regarding the Spanish Government Insurance Scheme, which will provide state healthcare for people not currently covered.

Aside from British expats, it’s also targeted towards the Valencia Health Authority’s administrative staff, with the aim of educating them how the UK government covers its citizens while they’re in Spain and how the medical care they require is covered.

For the UK Department of Health, it’s vitally important that both expats and Spanish healthcare staff correctly understand how EHICs work and all other expat medical related procedures and rules.

The purpose of the EHICs are to cover Britons temporarily visiting a European country when they require emergency healthcare abroad, sometimes for free and other times at a reduced cost.

However, they are not designed to be used by citizens permanently staying in Spain. Expats must undergo a different process to get healthcare cover, which involves registering for the S1/E121 scheme under the Spanish social security.

But the dual system has been causing confusion, and that’s why the UK Department of Health wish to step in and simplify things for those British expats currently unable to understand current procedures.

There have been a number of cases where hospitals in Spain have out-and-out refused British tourists free or reduced healthcare treatment when they have presented their EHICs. This has forced them to use travel insurance or even credit cards to pay medical bills.

Spain welcomes more than 12 million Brits to its shores and islands each year, approximately two million of which go to the Valencia region.

Meanwhile, estimates have the figure of permanent British citizens residing in this area at 300,000 – about 40 per cent of all British expatriates in Spain – hence why it is staff in this region being targeted by the campaign.

Despite this, what is said in the campaign applies for all of Spain and not just in the Valencia region.

The list below contains the dates and venues of the seminars with UK Department of Health representative Martyn Standing, leader of the campaign.

  • October 22: Calle Elche 24 – Santa Pola
  • November 5: Plaza Jaime I – San Miguel de Salinas
  • November 19: Teulada-Moraira (TBC)
  • December 11: Calle Carretillas 19 – Pilar de la Horadada
  • December 12: Calle Mayor 33 – Algorfa

David Johns works for, a growing multi-language Spanish property portal showcasing properties for sale, long term rentals, holiday lets, commercial businesses for sale and more on behalf of estate agents and developers.