At present (2016) immigrants without papers in Spain have a right to public health on the same terms as Spaniards, although in some regions you need to meet some criteria such as being registered at the census or lacking economic resources. A national law from 2012 prevented immigrants ‘without papers’ from going to the doctor or the specialist (at hospitals) until a few months ago as they no longer had the possibility to obtain the healthcare card. ’ Until a few months ago, immigrants without papers could only be assisted in case of emergency, pregnancy or underage status. However, by the end of 2016 a lot changed in Spain and now irregular immigrants can visit their family doctor, who can order their referral them to the specialist at the hospital. They also have a right to assistance at emergency services in most Spanish regions. HOW TO GO TO THE DOCTOR IN EACH OF THE REGIONS OF SPAIN.

How can an irregular immigrant go to the doctor in CATALONIA?

In the region of Catalonia irregular immigrants have free access to health. They must only be registered at the census for three months. The government in this region is processing a law so that assistance is the same for all without the prerequisite of being registered at the census for three months.  Go to a nearby health center and ask how an irregular immigrant can go to the doctor.

How can an irregular immigrant go to the doctor in MADRID?

The right to healthcare assitance without a Spanish public health card in Madrid:

  1. Citizens hedged by another country, under international regulations: Holders of a European Healthcare Insurance Card or citizens from countries who have entered into bilateral agreements with the Spanish Social Security.
  2. Foreigners that are nor registered neither authorized as residents in Spain (irregular) will receive any healthcare assistance included on the list of services of the National Healthcare System until the regional government creates a certifying document that grants access to health for irregular immigrants.
  3. Foreign minors (under 18 years) will receive assistance on the same terms as Spaniards.
How can an irregular immigrant go to the doctor in THE VALENCIAN COMMUNITY?


The Valencian Community gives access to healthcare for irregular people on the same terms as Spaniards. A Decree was signed by the regional government that grants the healthcare card to any person that requests it in the Valencian Community even without having a valid residence permit. Ask about this at a healthcare center close to your house.

How can an irregular immigrant go to the doctor in ANDALUCIA?

Foreigners residing in Andalucia have a right to go to the doctor at any healthcare center or hospital on the same terms as Spaniards. Immigrant population without resources receives a ‘temporary recognition document’ at the primary healthcare centers that grants access to the public healthcare system in the Andalucia community. There are currently some 27 000 immigrants who hold a temporary healthcare document.

How can an irregular immigrant go to the doctor in MURCIA?

Immigrants ‘without papers’ have full coverage in the public healthcare system of Murcia. They must prove that they are not covered by any other healthcare system.

How can an irregular immigrant go to the doctor in GALICIA?

An irregular immigrant needs to be registered on the census in order to be assisted by the Galician health system. They must meet some prerequisites to obtain the regular card: Being registered at the council where they are residing and a minimum stay of 183 days, that is, some six months.

In addition, the applicant must have an income both in Spain and in their country of origin below 535 monthly euros.

How can an irregular immigrant go to the doctor in CANTABRIA?

The healthcare centers in Cantabria received instructions so that irregular immigrants in this Autonomous Community (some 5000 people) receive assistance with the same rights and services as the rest of users of the public system. 

How can an irregular immigrant go to the doctor in THE VASC COUNTRY?

In the Vasc Country irregular immigrants can go to the emergency services in hospitals. Pregnant women and minors (under 18 years old) have access to primary health care and specialized health care.

The irregular immigrant must meet certain prerequisites in order to have access to healthcare on the same terms as Spaniards:

  • Being registered on the census “Estar empadronado” in some council of the region for at least one year;
  • Having scarce economic resources;
  • Lacking access to any other public healthcare coverage system by means of any other document. 

DOCUMENTATION THAT MUST BE SUBMITTED: documentation that proves identification convincingly; income statement (the income must be inferior to the autonomic basic income); census certificate in any vasc council for a continuous period of at least one year prior to the submission of the request.

Once the prerequisites are verified, if authorized, the citizen obtains a personal healhcare card that guarantees the assignation of a primary healthcare doctor and grants healthcare assistance on the same terms as the rest of the citizens.

How can an irregular immigrant go to the doctor in ASTURIAS?

In Asturias a healthcare center and a family doctor are assigned to any foreign person without resources regardless of their administrative situation, so that access to autonomic healthcare services is guaranteed. 

In addition, the Healthcare Service, in cooperation with the Red Cross, a procedure has been set in motion to grant  these groups access to pharmaceutical benefits on terms that ressemble the terms for the average population.

How can an irregular immigrant go to the doctor in ARAGON?

Every irregular immigrant receives healthcare assistance as any other citizen, pharmaceutical benefits included. The sole prerequisite is to be registered on the census of any council of Aragon for at least three months.

How can an irregular immigrant go to the doctor in NAVARRE?

The Navarre Government guarantees free healthcare assistance for irregular immigrants. The sole prerequisite stablished by Navarre law is to prove effective residence in the Autonomous Community of Navarre. To this effect, the following documents will be requested: a census certificate, a lease contract, or any other official documents, such as the enrolment papers at some school for minors or a report written by the social worker confirming the person resides in Navarre.

How can an irregular immigrant go to the doctor in CASTILE LA MANCHA?

Irregular immigrants have the right to access primary healthcare at healthcare centers and hospitals such as Spaniards. However, they must obtain a specific card for the Autonomous Community of Castile La Mancha called ‘humanitarian card’. This card gives back to immigrants without papers the right to access healthcare assistance in hospitals and healthcare centers. Once requested, the card will be valid for 12 months and its renewal will have place upon prior request by the holder two months in advance. This norm also concerns foreigners registered at councils of Castile La Mancha who lack the sufficient income to access healthcare.

How can an irregular immigrant go to the doctor in CASTILE-LEON?

If you are in Castile-Leon you have a right to receive healthcare assistance like any Spaniard. In fact, this community has never stopped providing healthcare assistance to immigrants ‘without papers’.

How can an irregular immigrant go to the doctor in EXTREMADURA?

Since August 2016 irregular immigrants have a right to healthcare on the same terms as Spaniards. The Government of Extremadura has passed a Decree by virtue of which irregular immigrants will receive universal healthcare assistance but they must also obtain a specific card.

How can an irregular immigrant go to the doctor in LA RIOJA?

Irregular immigrants are assisted by the healthcare system of La Rioja. Citizens need to be registered on the census of the region for more than three months and they must have insufficient economic resources, i.e. less than 500 euros monthly. Thus, unregistered or unauthorized foreigners are admitted in Primary healthcare and, if needed be, referred to the specialist.

How can an irregular immigrant go to the doctor in THE BALEARIC ISLANDS?

Immigrants without papers that request to be included in the public system must submit an affidavit on their situation and lack of resources. They will be included on the computerized healthcare system and they will have a document for the Balearic Islands Autonomous Community valid for one year and renewable.

How can an irregular immigrant go to the doctor in THE CANARY ISLANDS?

The Canary Islands Government stanlished universal healthcare coverage in this autonomous community for irregular immigrants. 

“Los inmigrantes ‘sin papeles’ tienen derecho a la sanidad pública en las mismas condiciones que los españoles en todas las regiones de España, aunque en algunas tienen que aportar documentación sobre empadronamiento y sobre escasez de recursos económicos”

“Las comunidades autónomas del País Vasco que exige estar empadronado un año y no tener recursos económicos y Galicia, donde tienes que demostrar que llevas empadronado seis meses y tener menos de 500 euros para subsistir”


The Aliens Act acknowledges certain rights, some are limited to be enjoyed only by people with a residence permit in Spain, some are detached from the foreigner's administrative situation. Some of the most important rights are the following:
  • Education. All foreigners under 18 years old have the right and the obligation to an education on the same terms as Spaniards. This right includes access to compulsory education, obtainment of academic qualifications and access to a public system of grants and scholarships. They will also have a right to access non-compulsory secondary education regardless of their administrative situation. 
  • Free legal assitance. Should you need legal assistance to attend a trial, you can request a public defender and benefit from a free justice if you previously justify you lack the economic resources to pay for a private one. 
  • City registration. It is an administrative record where all neighbours belonging to a certain district or council are registered. Non-Community foreigners must renew it every two years, unless they are holders of a long-term residence permit.
  • Health. You must have a resident permit or work and residence permit to be granted this service. If you are staying irregularly this right extends only to assistance in emergency units. Minors and pregnant women also have this right granted until medical discharge.  
  • Translator. If you do not understand or speak Spanish, you are entitled by law to ask for an interpreter that translates into a language you can understand for the spanish legal services.


Interesting information on how to prevent diseases and how to use the public healthcare system

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