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Important News about European Health Cards (EHICs) PDF

By Paul Whitelock

27 April 2010

If you are from another EU member state and are officially resident in Spain, did you know that, even if you have a Spanish Health Card (Tarjeta Sanitaria) you are not covered if you travel temporarily outside Spain to another EU/EEA member state, and that includes the UK!

Time was we had a piece of paper called an E111, that gave us health cover if we were abroad on holiday, but that was withdrawn in June 2004 and replaced by the European Health Insurance Card, or EHIC to us Brits, and known as the Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea, TSE, here in Spain.

So, how do you get hold of one?  Normally from the country of residence, so if you live in Spain and are registered with Seguridad Social, but are British or German or French, etc, you apply in Spain.

As of 1 May 2010, however, Brussels has made it a bit more complicated.  If you receive your health care in Spain via a E121 form, ie you are in receipt of a state pension from the UK, you must apply to the country you intend to travel to, not in Spain! This seems absurd, but is the case, I’m afraid.

I queried this today at the Seguridad Social office in Ronda, and it’s quite clear – they showed me the official notification.  So, if you’re over 65, in receipt of your UK state pension, and are registered in Spain for health cover, you need to apply for an EHIC/TSE from the next country you plan to visit on holiday, otherwise you won’t have automatic free health cover - unless you make private arrangements, of course.

What the very helpful man in Ronda couldn’t clarify was what if you plan to go to several other EU countries?  I shall be visiting the UK, France and Germany at various times later this year.  If I apply for one from the UK, presumably I can use it anywhere until it runs out...???

Stop press: A German friend who resides here and has a Tarjeta Sanitaria has just tried to apply for a TSE online at, but, guess what, it didn’t work!  So, it looks like a trip to Ronda for her!

Note:  The EHIC/TSE is valid in the following countries:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.

© Paul Whitelock