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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Liz Truss: What does the new UK PM mean for Brits in Spain?

Following the announcement that Liz Truss will replace Boris Johnson as the UK’s new Prime Minister, political correspondent Conor Faulkner analyses what this could mean for Brexit and the 400,000 UK nationals who reside in Spain.

Liz Truss: What does the new UK PM mean for Brits in Spain?

On Monday September 5th, it was announced that members of UK’s Conservative party had finally elected a new leader and thus a new Prime Minister, after Boris Johnson was forced to resign at the start of the summer.

Beating rival Rishi Sunak with 57 percent of the vote, just 80,000 Conservative party members elected the former Foreign Secretary as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.

READ ALSO: ‘Iron weathercock’ – Europe reacts to Liz Truss becoming new UK PM

But what, if anything, does her election mean for Brexit and the 400,000 Britons living in Spain? 

Will she be a continuity politician or will she forge a new path (for better or worse) in British-European relations?

Truss the Remainer

During the 2016 EU referendum campaign, Liz Truss campaigned for Remain. “I don’t want my daughters to live in a world where they have to apply for a visa to work in Europe,” she famously said.

Having once been a member of the Liberal Democrats and decidedly more pro-European, Truss’s conversion to Euroscepticism came after she had voted Remain in the EU in the June 2016 referendum.

Did the much hallowed Brexit benefits become clear to her in the aftermath of the result? Possibly. Or, as Brexit became a litmus test of loyalty and Conservatism, did her position shift to fit the intra-party politics of her party?

Although one may hope that her former pro-European positions might mean a softening in UK-EU relations in the post-Johnson era, Truss’s dependence on the Eurosceptic wing of the Conservative parliamentary party during her leadership campaign suggests she may be kneecapped in her ability to strike compromises with the EU.

Truss the Foreign Secretary

Owing to Truss’s tendency to be a bit of a political flip-flopper and change her positions at the whim of career progression, it is therefore quite difficult to predict her future behaviour with regards to Spain. We can, however, make some educated guesses based on her time as Foreign Secretary.

Going off her tenure in the Foreign Office, it seems Truss may view relations with Spain more positively than perhaps with other EU member states or the block as a whole.

In December 2021, Truss travelled to Madrid to meet with her then counterpart José Manuel Albares to build “closer economic, tech and security ties” with Spain, and to “support” the 400,000 Britons living in Spain. 

“We’re significant trading partners, with the UK as Spain’s biggest European investor,” she said, “and the UK as the top destination for Spanish investment. By boosting our trading ties even further, both Spain and every region and nation of the UK will benefit.”

Yet, Truss has also strongly hinted that she would be willing to overhaul Article 16 and put the Northern Ireland protocol at risk. If she is willing to jeopardise peace and potentially break international law to appease her political base in England, particularly within her own parliamentary party, one must wonder about the seriousness with which a few hundred thousand Brits up and down Spain’s costas will be taken. 

Reaction in Spain

Spain’s leading newspaper El País believes Truss will continue the populist strategy of Johnson. Truss was, even in her acceptance speech on Monday, loyal to her predecessor. 

She “promises citizens a rose-tinted future, without clarifying how she intends to achieve it”, the paper believes.

Sue Wilson, Chair of Bremain in Spain, told The Local that she expects Truss to “carry on with the policies of Johnson, and be led, presumably, by the same right-wing forces of the Conservative Party.

“I suspect that, as far as what affects British citizens in Spain, that continuity will simply mean we remain invisible and left to our own devices,” Wilson added.

“Britons in Spain have been left in bureaucratic limbo since the Brexit vote six years ago. Whether it be the ongoing confusion over driving licenses or renewing residency or getting new TIE cards, many Britons abroad have felt abandoned by the UK government.”

Wilson and other members of Bremain in Spain will take part in the National Rejoin March in London on Saturday September 10th to “deliver a warning to the new PM about the impact of Brexit on the spiralling cost of living crisis in the UK”,  to express a “clear and loud message” that “Brexit has failed” and to promote “Rejoin the EU” as a “mainstream” call to action.

“For six years now, Brits living in Europe have been dealing with fear, uncertainty and stress, thanks to Brexit. We have already lost important rights, and many are concerned that even those secured could be at risk. Truss plans to proceed with the Protocol Bill which threatens the legally binding international treaty that secured those limited rights. In the process, she seems determined to do further damage to UK/EU relations and our international reputation.”

Anne Hernández, head of Brexpats in Spain, told The Local Spain: “Our problem as Brits in Spain might be if she actually applies Article 16, meaning a no deal Brexit, and she has threatened that. Although I’m not sure how that might affect our rights.”

The overriding feeling among UK nationals in Spain about Truss in No. 10 is the feeling of trepidation that Hernández describes.

With its fourth leader in six years and the third to take the helm of Britain in the post-Brexit world, for Brits abroad Truss’ rise to Downing Street has prolonged that uncertainty. 

With her apparent willingness to simply tear up internationally binding agreements, many will worry if the situation in Spain will be taken back to square one.

One would hope that her previously positive interactions with the Spanish state could mean that she lends a hand in resolving some of these lingering administrative issues affecting Britons in Spain, but the propensity to change her politics when it suits her make this unpredictable, and her reliance on Eurosceptic forces within her party make it unlikely.

How about Gibraltar?

This unpredictability could be of particular concern for UK nationals in Gibraltar. After voting Remain by a whopping 96 percent, the tiny British territory was not included in the main Brexit deal that came into effect from January 2021, and complicated multilateral negotiations between Gibraltar, London, Madrid and Brussels have rumbled on without resolution. 

Truss’ rhetoric on Gibraltar during her tenure as Foreign Secretary was as combative as her anti-EU talking points during the Tory leadership campaign, continuing the us-against-them language: “We will continue to defend the sovereignty of Gibraltar.”