Depending on the healthcare service you visit in Spain you may have access to an interpreter. For example, in Madrid, if you go to the emergency services of a hospital, at the very least, you will be offered a telephone translation service that will provide you with an interpreter in a language you can speak. The interpreter will translate the questions the doctor asks you and you will have to answer the interpreter so that they tell the doctor what you are saying in Spanish.

There is also a more comprehensive and reliable option: a healthcare translator or interpreter that will accompany you during your interview with the doctor in order to translate what you are saying and to help you understand what the doctor is explaining to you. Usually, it is the doctor who requests this face-to-face interpreting service.  

The autonomous communities with a higher number of face-to-face interpreting services are Madrid, Catalonia and Andalucia.




The Association for the Infectious Diseases Research, by means of its program SALUDENTRECULTURAS has been carrying out an interpreting and mediation service within the healthcare context since 2006  in languages such as French, English Arab and minoritarian African languages. This service is provided mainly at the consulting rooms of the Tropical Medicine Unit of the Ramón y Cajal Hospital, where there is a great presence of Sub-Saharan patients. Other public healthcare centers in the Community of Madrid can request  this service under prior appointment by contacting the address that appears on Salud Entre Culturas’ webpage:

Some councils, such as the council of Parla (Madrid), have intercultural mediation services specifically aimed at healthcare.


At the Sol Hospital, four out of every ten patients are foreigners. 90% of the patients are foreigners who reside in Spain but the number of tourists who are assisted is also high. It is stimated to be some 7000.

Valencian Community

The British NGO Help, founded in Marina Alta (Alicante) in the early 80s provides interpreters for foreign patients at the Denia Hospital.

A specific area has been created for foreign patients at the private hospital San Jaime in Alicante, where there is a great proportion of social immigrants (mainly from the UK, Germany, France, Holland and Sweden). The figure of the interpreter is very present in this area. This service is mainly provided by volunteers that have the same nationality as the communities they are helping. They tend to be pensioners with a high education level and ‘enough free time to spend on their compatriots’.

The Marina Baixa Hospital, from Villajoyosa (Alicante), has an interpreting service in eight languages (English, French, German, Dutch and North Germanic languages). They have a hired interpreter and an intercultural mediator through a grant offered by the Conselleria de Sanidad.

In the Valencian Community, for example, the Conselleria de Sanidad yearly offers four grants for intercultural mediators in hospitals of the region.


Murcia also has Arab, English and French mediators for hospitals. The University Hospital Virgen de Arrixaca has one translator.

Balearic Islands

Healthcare centers in Palma de Mallorca have intercultural mediators.

The Information and Patient Care Service at the University Hospital Son Dureta, in Palma de Mallorca, has face-to-face intercultural mediators/interpreters in English, French, German, Italian, Dutch and Scandinavian languages.

Vasc Country

In the Vasc Country the NGO IMISATE ((Inmigración y Salud Transcultural en Euskadi-Immigration and Transcultural Health in Euskadi) was founded.



The Galician NGO Ecos do Sur. Sometimes their intercultural mediators accompany users to hospitals or healthcare centers and act as interpretes in the consulting rooms.




Salud Entre Culturas, the NGO that acts as the driving force for the web along with the NGO Teléfono de la Esperanza, has a face-to-face healthcare interpreting service in Madrid, namely at the Ramón y Cajal Hospital. Salud Entre Culturas offers interpreting services mainly in English and French but also in Chinese, Arab and other languages. Contact us.


Contact them to get information on how to go to the doctor without speaking Spanish. Choose the one closer to you.


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

What to do when sick

Click on these links for information on access to the Spanish public health


Click on these links to find out about the health precautions you should follow in Spain