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Health and safety

How does the Spanish healthcare system work?

You'll find an extensive network of healthcare centres and public hospitals all around the country. If you feel unwell or have any kind of accident, the normal practice is to go first to the nearest healthcare centre where you will be seen by a general practitioner. If you need specialised attention, you will be given a voucher with which to go to a hospital. What's more, both healthcare centres and hospitals have an emergency service. You can find a list of all the hospitals and healthcare centres in Spain on the website of the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality. Remember that the National Health service only covers healthcare. This means that some dental or optical treatments must handled via the private system. When speaking to a doctor in Spain, remember that there are mobile apps designed to help you find translations for medical terms. These may be useful. More information: Hospitals and healthcare centres in Spain

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Health and safety

What should you know about healthcare if you're from the European Union?

If you come from a country in the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you'll need to obtain the European Health Card (TSE) before you travel in order to receive free healthcare. Contact your local healthcare authority. Things to remember Private doctors and hospitals in Spain do not accept the European Health Card. If you forget your European Health Card you'll be required to pay the costs in advance and then request reimbursement at a later date. Remember that the European Health Card is not valid if you travel to Spain in order to receive specific medical treatment. This also applies in all other EU countries.

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Health and safety

What should you know about healthcare if you're from outside the European Union?

If you're not from a European Union country, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, the best idea is to check before travelling to see if your country has an agreement with Spain with regard to Social Security and medical care. If it does, the healthcare authorities in your country will issue the corresponding document so you have free access to healthcare. Things to remember If you forget the certificate issued by your country you'll be required to pay the costs in advance and then request reimbursement at a later date. If your country has no agreement with Spain, you'll be treated in the case of an emergency although you'll need to pay. The best idea is to take out medical insurance before you travel.

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Health and safety

Do you need any vaccinations before travelling to Spain?

No. However, as in any part of the world, you are advised to have a current anti-tetanus vaccination if you're going to be in a natural setting, and your official vaccination schedule should be up to date. In exceptional circumstances, the Spanish authorities may require travellers to undergo a medical examination to certify that they do not have any disease requiring quarantine.

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Where can you buy medicines?

In chemists. These are identified in the street by the green cross on the front. Many medicines are only sold with prescriptions, so you will be prescribed the correct course of treatment by the doctor. If you come from a European country or a country that has healthcare agreements with Spain, you'll be eligible for the same pharmaceutical services as Spaniards.

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Where should you call in the event of an emergency?

You should phone the free telephone number 112. You'll be answered in Spanish, and in tourist resorts, also in English, French and German.

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Health and safety

Where is smoking prohibited in Spain?

In Spain, smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public areas (including public and collective transport and in restaurants). Smoking is also prohibited in healthcare centres, in all parts of schools and training centres (except in open-air spaces at universities and adult training centres) and in children's parks and play areas. If you are staying in a hotel or similar establishment you can reserve a room for smokers, although this will be in a separate area and with independent ventilation.

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Health and safety

Are there services for celiacs in Spain?

There are an increasing number of hotels, restaurants, campsites, parks and recreation centres prepared for the needs of celiacs. If this is your case, you can find a complete list on the official website of the Spanish Federation of Celiac Associations. The Federation recommends that tourists who do not speak Spanish carry a piece of paper with the following text: 'Soy celíaco. Si consumo algún alimento que contenga trigo, centeno, cebada, avena, kamut, espelta o triticale, o bien sus productos derivados, puedo enfermar. Esto incluye la harina, pan, pasta, croquetas, dulces, salsas, algunos embutidos… Los celíacos podemos comer carne, pescado, huevos, legumbres, frutas, hortalizas, arroz, maíz, soja y también patata. Estos productos se deben cocinar sin harina, cocidos, a la plancha, a la brasa o bien crudos. Si durante la preparación de la comida le surgiera alguna duda, por favor consúlteme. Gracias.' Also remember that increasing numbers of supermarkets sell gluten-free products. More information: Spanish Federation of Celiac Associations

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Health and safety

Is Spain a safe country?

Yes, it is a completely safe country. However, as in any other country we recommend taking a few precautions: Avoid walking through isolated or poorly-lit areas. Avoid games of chance in the street. Don't carry any more money on you than necessary. Don't leave valuable objects like mobile phones or cameras in sight. If you need help, you can contact the police on 112.