Can Spanish Citizens Living Abroad Get Free Healthcare in Spain?


If you were born in Spain and have Spanish citizenship but not lived here since you were 3 nor worked here at all and have now come back to Spain to live (age 63) can you get free healthcare in Spain? And if not do you still have to wait 1 year for the convenio especial?


These are the answers of some Facebook group members:

“Good question. I think you may have had to contribute over the years or at least have your DNI possibly? If so, The CE (Convenio Especial) will cost only 157€ per month. A very small amount to pay for excellent care.
Edit: I stand corrected. Since you were born in Spain and are a legit citizen, even though you never lived there previously, you can get healthcare free.
The CE is for non citizens, non Europeans.”

What is a Convenio especial? Spanish regional health authorities give a pay-in scheme for health care services (Some SpainGuru Community members pointed out it is free in Catalonia, but this official page states that the basic monthly fee is 60€ for the under 65s, and 157€ for those aged 65 and above.). The Convenio Especial should be offered by a nearby social security office. This is a public health insurance program that gives expats access to state-run medical treatment throughout Spain.

“I’d inquire with your nearest Spanish consulate or embassy to get a solid answer (in writing). May depend on the CCAA (Comunidad Autónoma) also, not just Spain.”

“Not everywhere in Spain have CE (Convenio Especial). In cataluña, it’s free. I got it here after 3 months moving here and I’m not a spanish citizen. I had to provide my empadromiento. Being a Spanish citizen it should be free, better to verify in the region you will be moving to.”

“Convenio Especial in Catalunya, you get free health care, only requisite is registration on the padrón. Just Catalunya as far as I know.”

“You’re a Spanish citizen, and under the law you’re entitled to free healthcare. Paying into the convenio especial depends on the autonomous community, but for Madrid it’s only for foreigners. This is of course if you intend to become a resident, so that’s what this answer is predicated on.”

“Only foreigners that are not working or claiming paro – ayudas etc need to pay into the convenio. Spanish citizens residing in Spain are entitled to healthcare irrespective of their work or not work situation.”

“Yes, Spanish citizens and their dependents are entitled to free healthcare once they reside in Spain. There are various government websites that affirm this right. Here is one (scroll down to part C: Retorno):

“If you have Spanish DNI and passport then you are entitled to have it, just have to apply.”

“My wife and I both naturalized as Spanish citizens. We had never worked in Spain but we were entitled to join the healthcare system immediately and got it for free.
Since we are not working, it is more limited; for example, we cannot be issued the TSE, which is the Spanish name for the EHIC.
If we do trips around Europe we have to request a temporary TSE equivalent and they’re cranky about giving it out.
But they were pretty clear- Spanish citizen, living in Spain, free healthcare, period.”

In conclusion, the question of whether a Spanish citizen who has not lived in Spain for most of their life and is now returning at the age of 63 can register with the Spanish health system has been answered by Spainguru’s Facebook group members. The consensus is that being a Spanish citizen entitles them to free healthcare once they reside in Spain, regardless of their work or not work situation. Some members suggest checking with the nearest Spanish consulate or embassy or the autonomous community where they will be residing for further clarification. Additionally, the possibility of paying for Convenio Especial (special agreement) may depend on the region nad/or being a foreigner. Overall, the responses suggest that the individual should be eligible for free healthcare as a Spanish citizen residing in Spain.