(The decision by the UK to leave the European Union (EU) in the future does not currently change your rights in any way. The British government advises all British nationals living in Spain to ensure they are registered as resident and have a valid green credit-card-sized (or A4-sized) certificate.)
Even if you are not a Spanish citizen but are a British national resident in Spain instead, you may be entitled to some benefits and support from Spanish statutory authorities.
Most benefits will generally only be available:-
- if you have a valid certificate that shows you have registered as an EU citizen living in Spain (normally issued by the National Police (Policia Nacional) nearest your home, or the national government’s Foreigners’ Office (Oficina Provincial de Extranjería) in the capital of your province). This is the green A4 sheet of paper or card.
- if you have registered on the census record (padrón) of your local town hall. This entitles you to access a lot of council services and many benefits.
All British residents in Spain are urged to do both the above if they’ll be staying more than three months, as it opens the door to many benefits and services and helps a happy, long life.
For more details on how to do this see here. Your options for future statutory welfare from the Spanish authorities are very limited if you do not do this and you could be at risk if something happens to you while living in Spain.
If you are already registered on the padrón (or even if you are not yet but your live locally and your situation is urgent):-
To find out what benefits you may be entitled to these are the options of who you can talk to:-
- Talk to your local council/town hall (‘ ayuntamiento’ )
Local councils generally act as a gateway to most social services in Spain, even if they do not run or fund them all themselves.
Many councils have a foreign residents’ department or representative who can explain in English how to access council services and advice.
If they do not have this department, many other councils have someone available to help with translation or explain processes in English, although you may need to ask for an appointment to access this service.
Typically if you need help, you will be directed to to see a social worker (‘trabajador social’) based at your local council who will assess your needs.
Generally a local council will give you advice if you are registered on their census (empadronado) and you do not need to have the green A4 or card EU citizens’registration certificate. However accessing most non-emergency services afterwards will require you to also have this green registration certificate.
Typical common areas of help and guidance available via your local council social workers include:-
- Emergency food/provisions/local meal centres
- Teleassistance/care monitoring service
- Processing requests for long-term home care assistance/dependency care and residential care under Spanish dependency legislation (requires a minimum length of time registered in Spain to qualify – typically to have been registered as living in Spain for five years in total inyour life, including at least two continuous years in the period immediately prior to applying).
- Social housing
- Limited home help or access to residential care in cases of real need where personal means are very limited and dependency legislation minimum requirements cannot be met
- Advice on registering as disabled and any occasional subsidies that may be available.
- Non-contributory pensions. If you are on a very low income and have limited family help plus are registered as resident in Spain, you may also be entitled to a non-contributory pension as a UK citizen under Spanish law without having paid into the Spanish social security system. Normally you need to 1) be over 65 2) have lived in Spain for ten years of your life since you were 16, including at least two continuous years in the period immediately prior to applying. If you have registered disabled status of 65% and are between 18 and 65, this residency time requirement is reduced from ten to five years. Your total annual income cannot be over 5,448 euros a year (2019 data), although your savings and a partner’s income will also be taken into account in making an assessment. (You are allowed a small income from a job if you are disabled). The maximum weekly pension available this way is 342 euros per week and the minimum 98 euros. This link in Spanish explains more on these non-contributory benefits which are administered by the regional governments. Click here.
For information on your local council/town hall, search here. (Main town halls only currently covered. Enter the name of your town to narrow results).
If nobody who speaks English is available at your local council and you need someone to help you translate click here to see any organisations in your area that might be able to help, (remember to enter your local town when required to narrow down results).
If you live in the region of Andalucía: Special card for over 65s: Teleassistance/telecare is available in this way if you hold the Junta de Andalucía’s Over 65 card (Tarjeta Sesentaycinco), which is available free of charge to all British residents over 65 resident in Andalucía. Click here for more details. It also offers subsidies/discounts including on hearing and sight equipment and some bus transport.
If you live in the Canaries, residents are entitled to cheap bus/tram travel schemes on each island. Discounts vary by island but can reduce expenses if you use public transport regularly. Also 75% reductions are given on advertisied airfares and boat travel between islands and to the Spanish mainland under a well-organised scheme for all registered Canary Island residents (including UK citizens). Your local town hall or a transport provider can provide more details. You must first be registered on your local town hall ‘padrón’. A similar scheme exists on the Balearic Islands.
2. Talk to your local health centre
If you have a medical condition you should ensure that you have enquired from your doctor about the possibility of medical-condition-related benefits.
Typical common areas of help available via your local health centre, besides healthcare and medicines are:-
- Temporary home care related to your medical condition
- Mobility apparatus prescriptions for a defined condition
- Disabled parking badge certification (on humanitarian, not long-term grounds; see here for long-term grounds)
- Advice on registering as disabled
To find your nearest public health centre click here. In ‘Your Town’ enter where you live to filter results more.
For more information on how register for Spanish public healthcare, click here.
3. Your local Spanish social security office
In addition to talking to your local town hall or health centre (see above), in some circumstances the local social security office can offer additional benefits. Generally, benefits available from the Spanish social security office will apply only if you (or a spouse) have been working in Spain, (and you or your employer has been paying Spanish social security contributions), or if you are receiving a pension from the Spanish authorities. Typical benefits for Spanish pension holders include reduced telephone and electricity bills, help with travel to day care centres or subsidised short-break programmes.
For information on your nearest Spanish social security office (Instituto Nacional de Seguridad Social-INSS) click here.
If, like most British nationals on a pension living in Spain, you are in receipt of a UK pension and not a Spanish one, click here for more guidance. You may be due more UK benefits that can help pay for services and support, even if you live in Spain.
If you need extra help understanding or more support applying for Spanish benefits or Spanish government services, please see this list of possible contacts who can help you with understanding forms or translating. (Enter the name of your town or village to narrow your search).
Please note that applying for benefits from Spain or the UK is not an immediate process. It is recommended to apply as soon as possible, even if you are unsure about your long-term residency plans in Spain, as other temporary emergency help you receive could be limited for a short period of time.
The decision by the UK to leave the European Union (EU) in the future does not currently change your rights in any way.