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TOURISM

Imserso: Everything to know about Spain’s cheap holiday scheme for pensioners

The application start date for Spain's cheap holiday scheme for pensioners is this week. Here's how foreigners can get a four-day break for as little as €115 or a ten-day holiday for €455, as well as where they can travel to, who is eligible and how to apply.

Imserso: Everything to know about Spain's cheap holiday scheme for pensioners
How pensioners can get cheap holidays in Spain. Photo: JAIME REINA / AFP

What is the Imserso programme?

Imserso is a social scheme offering holidays to the elderly. It aims to offer subsidised trips to pensioners in order to help them improve their quality of life and health, as well as to reduce their dependence on others.

The scheme also incentivises employment and economic activity, alleviating the problem of seasonal work in Spain’s tourism sector during low season. 

For the 2022/2023 season, around 816,000 Imserso spots are available. 

Which foreigners can access Spain’s Imserso scheme?

Foreigners residing in Spain who meet any of the following requirements may participate in the Imserso tourism programme:

  • A person who is retired and part of the Spanish public pension system.
  • A widow’s or widower’s pensioner who is 55 or older.
  • A recipient of unemployment benefits or subsidies, aged 60 or older.
  • A holder or beneficiary of Spain’s Social Security System, aged 65 or older.

How and when can I apply?

The best way to apply is online via the Imserso website which you can access here

You will need your [email protected], digital certificate or NIE in order to apply this way.

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You can also apply in person at the offices of the Imserso Tourism Programme. Find out from your local town hall where they are in your region, or you can also check under the Atención Presencial category here. Under the section Documentos you will be able to download the application form. 

You will need to provide documentation and proof of your identity, residency status in Spain and details of your Spanish pension and social security payments, so make sure to have them to hand when you’re filling out the form.

How does it work?

Acceptance to the Imserso programme depends on various factors. Those who are older, have fewer financial means, are part of a large family, have a degree of disability or who have never participated in the scheme before, will be given priority.

Applicants who haven’t been on a holiday in a while and those who are willing to travel in low season, will also be given priority.

People who apply may be accompanied by their spouse or, where appropriate, by a common-law partner or person with whom a stable and living union is established, without the need for them to meet the requirements of age or pension.

You may also be accompanied by children with disabilities as long as they travel with you and stay in the same room or if not, you will be required to pay a supplement for additional rooms.

How much will it cost me?

The Imserso programme is designed to subsidise holidays for pensioners and allow you to travel very cheaply. Depending on the dates you go and the type of accommodation you stay in, you will usually have to pay between €115 and €455 for the trip.

The cheaper Imserso holidays are usually four days long (three nights at a hotel) to locations in Spain’s inland provinces, whereas the €455 holidays are for ten days (nine nights at a hotel) in coastal areas or Spain’s islands.

This will include your accommodation on either a full or half board basis, as well as transport (except to provincial capitals), group insurance policy and a socio-cultural programme.

It should be noted that prices may be reduced for people who have economic resources equal to or less than the amount of non-contributory retirement and disability pensions in social security.

What type of holidays can I go on and where to?

There are several different types of holidays you can choose from as part of the programme. These include:

  • Coastal areas in mainland Spain: Stays of between eight to 10 days in either Catalonia, Andalusia, Murcia, Galicia, Asturias, the Basque Country, Cantabria or Valencia regions.
  • Spain’s islands: Stays of eight to 10 days in the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands.
  • Spain’s interior: Stays of four, five or six days in the interior of Spain (Extremadura, Aragon, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León, La Rioja, Navarre), which are culture, nature or city-themed holidays.
  • Holidays in Spain’s autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla.

There’s also a hydrotherapy Imserso programme, allowing the elderly access to spas around the country. The same requisites apply as for the regular programme. 

READ ALSO: Healthcare in Spain: the steps to apply for the S1 form for UK state pensioners

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For members

TRAIN TRAVEL

Spain changes conditions for free train travel

Spain's state train operator Renfe has tweaked the terms and conditions for its free train travel offer in order to avoid 'ghost reservations'. Here's everything you need to know.

Spain changes conditions for free train travel

Renfe has changed the terms and conditions of reservations on its free travel offer for regional Media Distancia services, valid until the end of 2022, in order to avoid ‘ghost reservations.’ 

Announced by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez during the ‘State of the Nation’ debate in the Spanish Congress in August, the free multi-journey ticket scheme is an offer on some trains operated by the state-owned train network, Renfe, including Cercanías, Rodalies (Catalonia), and Media Distancia (local and medium-distance journeys).

READ MORE: All you need to know about Spain’s plan for free train tickets

READ MORE: GUIDE: How to get free train tickets in Spain

But some passengers have been abusing the offer, it seems, by block booking tickets and never using them. In response, Renfe have tweaked their terms for taking up the offer on Media Distancia journeys.

Unlike on the Cercanías and Rodalies routes, which are also included in the free travel offer, on Media Distancia routes it is possible to reserve a seat, and some travellers have been making more than one reservation on the same route for different times through the day or week in order to secure a place, and then choosing the most convenient departure.

As a result, many services were fully booked with ‘ghost reservations’ days before their departure and preventing passengers who needed to buy a ticket from being able to do so.

This loophole was particularly widespread on regional routes in Galicia and Castilla-La Mancha, and from now on, Media Distancia customers can only buy tickets for a maximum of four daily trips (two return journeys) on Media Distancia trains, and can only buy the return journey when the initial journey has been made.

READ MORE: TRAVEL: Tourists in Spain will also be eligible for free train tickets

“It is a question of guaranteeing the good use of the free passes for recurrent travelers and that as many people as possible can benefit,” Renfe sources said in the Spanish media.

READ ALSO: How much can you save on public transport in Spain with the new state discount?

Renfe’s free train travel offer came into force on September 1st and will end at the end of the year, on December 31st. In order to obtain the offer, travelers must pay a €20 deposit that is returned at the end of the year if at least 16 trips have been made during the offer period.

According to Spanish newspaper El País, as of Monday September 12th, Renfe had already issued over 1 million free passes for Cercanías and Media Distancia trains. 

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