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Health Care for All in Valencia and Balearic Islands?

Last Thursday, 16th of July, the Valencia Councillor for Health Services announced that the Royal Decree 16/2012 that excluded immigrants without the proper paperwork to accredit their status as residents from access to public healthcare, will no longer be enforced in Valencia and that the Valencia authorities will lobby with the central government to have it annulled altogether.

Since the 2012 Decree, immigrants in a state of ´irregular´ residency, that is, not officially registered as residents, nor with a residency permit, could only receive free healthcare if treated for emergencies, as a minor, or as pregnant woman, for both pre- and postnatal care.

As of this week, this will change and all immigrants in irregular residency situations will be able to apply for their SIP card with their local medical centre. Get appointed a GP and have access to basic healthcare, prescription medicines and the care from specialists through public hospitals.

Requisites for the application:

– Not having registered as resident, nor in possession of residency permit

– Registered on padrón of a Valencian town for at least 3 months

– Not having accredited a right to healthcare by the INSS as contributor or beneficiary of a contributor nor being in a position to have it accredited any other way

– That there are no third parties obliged to pay into the system or in the process

– What is stated in these instructions is not applicable to those citizens that could access cover through the SNS by the protection of EU Reglaments or International Agreements re health care cover.

Could this new ruling also benefit EU expats?
Contrary to what has been posted on various expat facebook groups, we are of the opinion that this new rule does NOT apply to EU ´irregular´ residents (see the ´not applicable´ above). Nor will it benefit all those with retracted health cards (for whatever reason), as they will already be residents.

This new rule will also NOT enable post April 2012 residents to access free healthcare, for the same reason – registered residents are excluded.

For the latter we gladly refer to the ´Glimmer of Hope´video we posted earlier this year for more information on your right to healthcare as residents.

On the 18th of July the Balearic Government published an Instruction re access to free healthcare for irregular immigrants without economic resources, to correct the exclusion that was the result of the 2012 Royal Decree. Irregular as in – not being able to register as resident and thus regularise their residence in Spain.

This Instruction also explicitly excludes immigrants from EU countries and non-EU countries with a bi-lateral Convenio in place re Social Security.

Note: even though strictly speaking the padrón does not give right to residency, the fact that in this rule it is used as a requisite for access to state health services leads us to believe that things are moving and we would like to advise ´irregular´ EU residents that are not in a situation to fulfil the requirements to formally register as residents, to register on the padrón of their hometown so they might be entitled to access to state benefits or services in the future.


Update for the Valencia region: The webpage with the announcement by the councillor no longer exists and we believe this offer to the immigrants may have been challenged. This is the only reference to those without legal rights that exists in the regulations. 

Update note* The regional government won their case against central government and therefore continue with their offer of universal healthcare.


Those without documentation or who do not legally reside in Spain will be covered in emergencies, birth and post birth and children under 18 years old.

Por otro lado, el Real Decreto Ley 16/2012, de 20 de abril, añade un tercer artículo, Asistencia sanitaria en situaciones especiales, a la Ley 16/2003, de 28 de mayo, que establece que los extranjeros no registrados y no autorizados como residentes en España recibirán asistencia pública en caso de embarazo, parto y postparto y en caso de menores de 18 años, con la misma extensión que la que tienen reconocida las personas que ostentan la condición de aseguradas.

Please note: The information provided is based upon our understanding of current legislation. It is not legal advice but is provided freely to enable you to be properly informed. We recommend that if you are considering taking action, you should seek professional advice.

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