Toddler Health Care and Benefits in Spain

Understand the schedule of vaccinations and child benefits that may be available to you...

Spain has a national health service, Seguridad Social, financed by social security contributions and run by the various autonomous health departments throughout the country. Residents need a social security number to qualify for treatment.

Residents are equally entitled to pay for healthcare in the private sector.

The Spanish healthcare system is generally acknowledged to be very good. Most hospitals are modern and well-equipped and the doctors and paediatricians are excellent. However do not assume that they will speak much English even in the resort areas and major cities. In some areas there will be someone providing a voluntary translation service to help with doctor's appointments. The local medical centre will advise if such a service exists.

Day-to-day treatment of childhood ailments is managed by a General Practitioner (GP). Local anglophone embassies and consulates can usually provide a list of English-speaking doctors in an area.

Note: Within the National Health Service a GP may be assigned by the local medical centre (centro de salud) – it may not be possible to specify a preference. Within the private sector the choice is open. Dental treatment in Spain is managed within the private sector.

Medicines and vaccinations

Medicines are always prescribed by a doctor using an official prescription and the patient is required to pay approximately 40 percent of the government capped price. Drugs and medicine are sold at pharmacies. All regions have an open pharmacy at nights and on weekends. Find the on-duty pharmacy by looking in the local Spanish newspaper or on the window of a closed pharmacy where a list of contacts is usually be posted.

The parent of a child requiring a hospital stay carries out tasks such as personal care and feeding. All hospitals allow one companion to be with the patient 24 hours a day.

Vaccinations required can vary by year and by the area of residence.

Children who attend pre-school or private nurseries are likely to be seen regularly by medical professionals.

  • In an emergency, go to the nearest accident or emergency hospital
  • If necessary, call an ambulance by dialing 112 (the Pan-European SOS helpline)

Social Security Benefits

The Spanish Seguridad Social office is responsible for maternity and childcare benefits. Much of the website has been translated into English and provides detailed information on entitlement and how to apply.

Child benefit is paid for children under 18 years of age (older if the child has a disability) as long as the place of residence is Spain and benefits are not being claimed elsewhere. There is a maximum limit on earnings, but this increases depending on the number of dependent children. Application must be made to the local INSS (Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social) office.

  • To find the nearest INSS office: Click here then select the appropriate region
  • For listings of other useful addresses and information on the benefit system in Spain see the European Union website (Europa): Click here