TSE card: How to get a Spanish European Health Insurance card

Those residents in Spain who are entitled to Spanish healthcare should apply for a European Health Card which ensures they can recieve medical treatement when travelling across the European Union.

TSE card: How to get a Spanish European Health Insurance card
Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

It also allows those Brits who are resident in Spain to receive emergency healthcare when visiting Britain. Besides having to exchange your driving license and applying for TIE card, Brits resident in Spain will also have to apply for a new European health card. 

The Spanish version is called a TSE (Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea). 

British Pensioners in Spain who are S1 holders and UK students studying in Spain will however need to apply for a new version of the EHIC issued by Britain. (Click here for more information)

But here’s some information for all other residents in Spain who, if they haven’t already, will need to get a TSE card.

What is it?

The Spanish version of the European Health Card or EHIC is called the Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea or TSE and entitles residents of Spain to health care in other European countries. 

Who is it for and who is eligible?

The card is for those residents in Spain who have the right to health care within Spain, and their beneficiaries. You need to have a social security number and actively be paying into the social security system in order to be eligible.

When is it to be used and why do I need one?

The TSE is to be used in emergencies when you are visiting or on holiday in Europe. It is not valid when moving to another country or if the trip is for the purpose of receiving medical treatment.

Your Spanish Tarjeta Sanitaria Individual (TSI) is only valid in Spain, so if you need to be treated when you are abroad, you’ll need a TSE instead. 

For those Britons resident in Spain before the end of the Brexit transition period and registered in the Spanish health system, they can use the TSE card for health emergencies when visiting the UK in future.

How to get one?

You need to apply for card online. There are several different ways to do this which we will explain below:

1) You can apply by clicking on the following link. Here you can apply for your TSE card, renew it or check on status once you’ve applied. Click on ‘Request/Renew European Health’ ‘Solicitar/Renovar Tarjeta Sanitaria’ and then you’ll be directed to a page to fill out your details. As well as your basic personal information, you’ll need your NIE/TIE number as well as your social security number to hand.

2) If you have a [email protected] and digital certificate you can also log-in to the system you’ll be directed to your social security page. Here you’ll click on the ‘Healthcare’ or ‘Sanidad’ section, click on ‘Request a European health insurance card’ and indicate the address you want the card sent to.

3) A third way to apply is via SMS. In order to confirm your identity, you’ll be sent a code via SMS to the phone that is registered to your social security number. Once you’ve been identified, you’ll be able to request the card.

Where is it valid?

The TSE card is valid in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Romania, Sweden and Switzerland. And in the UK for those Brits covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.

How long is it valid for?

Your TSE, for both the person applying and their beneficiaries will be valid for a total period of two years. After this time you must renew it. Your card will have an expiration date on it so you will know when it runs out.  


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Anger grows as no solution found yet for in limbo UK drivers in Spain 

British drivers living in Spain are becoming increasingly disgruntled at the lack of solutions two weeks after they were told their UK licences were no longer valid, with the latest update from the UK Embassy suggesting it could still take "weeks" to reach a deal. 

Anger grows as no solution found yet for in limbo UK drivers in Spain 

There is growing discontent among UK licence holders residing in Spain who are currently in limbo, unable to drive in Spain until they either get a Spanish driving licence or a deal is finally reached between Spanish and UK authorities for the mutual exchange of licences post-Brexit.

Since May 1st 2022, drivers who’ve been residents in Spain for more than six months and who weren’t able to exchange their UK licences for Spanish ones cannot drive in Spain.

There are no official stats on how many Britons of the 407,000 UK nationals who are residents in Spain in 2022 are affected; according to the UK Embassy the “majority exchanged” as advised.

But judging by the amount of negative comments the last two updates from the British Embassy in Madrid have received, hundreds if not thousands are stuck without being able to drive in Spain.  

May 12th’s video message by Ambassador Hugh Elliott left many unhappy with the fact that the forecast for a possible licence exchange agreement will be in the “coming weeks”, when two weeks earlier Elliott had spoken of “rapidly accelerating talks”. 

Dozens of angry responses spoke of the “shocking” and “absolutely ridiculous” holdup in negotiations that have been ongoing for more than at least a year and a half, and which the UK Embassy has put down to the fact that Spain is asking the British government to give them access to DVLA driver data such as road offences, something “not requested by other EU Member States”.

Numerous Britons have explained the setbacks not being able to drive in Spain are causing them, from losing their independence to struggling to go to work, the hospital or the supermarket, especially those in rural areas with little public transport.  

“I know personally from all the messages you’ve sent in, just how incredibly disruptive all of this is for many of you,” Elliott said in response. 

“If you are struggling to get around you may find additional advice or support from your local town hall, or charities or community groups in your area and the Support in Spain website is another very useful source of organisations that can provide general support to residents.

“And if your inability to drive is putting you in a very vulnerable situation, you can always contact your nearest consulate for advice.”

There continue to be disparaging opinions in the British community in Spain over whether any pity should be felt for UK licence holders stuck without driving, as many argue they had enough time to register intent to exchange their licences, whilst others clarify that their particular set of circumstances, such as arriving after the December 2020 ‘intent to exchange’ deadline, made this impossible. 

OPINION: Not all Brits in Spain who didn’t exchange UK driving licences are at fault

So is there any light at the end of the tunnel for drivers whose UK licences aren’t valid anymore in Spain or soon won’t be?

“The agreement we’re working towards now will enable UK licence holders, whenever they arrived in Spain or arrive in the future, to exchange their UK licence for a Spanish one without needing to take a practical or a theory test,” Elliott said on Thursday May 12th of the deal they are “fully committed” to achieve.

READ ALSO: How much does it cost to get a Spanish driving licence?

And yet it’s hard for anyone to rest their hopes on this necessarily happening – sooner or later or ever – in part because the embassy advice for those with UK licences for whom it’s imperative to continue driving in Spain is that they should take steps to get their Spanish licence now, while acknowledging that in some places there are “long delays for lessons” and getting your Spanish licence “doesn’t happen overnight”.

READ ALSO: What now for UK licence holders in Spain?