My "Tarjeta Sanitaria", or Health Card, with my social security number on it

How to obtain your “Tarjeta Sanitaria” or Spain Health Insurance Card in Madrid ?

My "Tarjeta Sanitaria", or Health Card


You just moved to Madrid, or will be relocating soon to Spain, and have a Spanish job. You are then entitled to the same health care and insurance as  all other Spaniards.

One thing is missing though: you do not still have this precious official card which gives you access to the entire Madrid health system, without anyone asking “where do you come from?”.



I will then present all the mandatory steps to get it as quickly as possible:

1. Obtain the official proof of your social security rights – “Documento de Afiliación a la Seguridad social


To prove you pay social security taxes in Spain, you need to show a proof that you have a social security number. This is called a “Documento de Afiliación a la Seguridad social“. You got this when you first got your social security number.

If you do not have a social security number, read my post about how to get this essential number. And also check if in fact you have the right to health care in Spain. In a nutshell, if you don’t pay for anything in Europe, if you don’t pay any kind of social security tax in Europe, well then you are not entitled to get anything. You get what you pay to sum up !

If you know you have one, but lost this document, you can get a new “Documento de Afiliación”, by going to the closest “Tesorería de la Seguridad Social” – complete list here – and asking for one with your ID.

2. Get the Padrón


Then, you have to obtain un “Certificado de empadronamiento”, nicknamed “Padrón– it means “local registration” and demostrates that you are living officially in such neighbourhood of Madrid. This will enable them to define to which “centros de salud” or “health centers” you should be asignated to.

To obtain a padrón, follow my step by step guide.


3. Go to your local health centre to have your carddelivered


Find where is the nearest “Centro de Salud” or “health center”. This is the typical question you can ask to a neighbour to practice your Spanish, or you can just have a look at this official Madrid site to find your Centro de Salud.

One you know where is your “Centro de Salud” or “ambulatorio” as many call then, go there with:

  • Your ID, passport and NIE (Foreigner’s registration- if you have one), originals and photocopies (I was once asked to go and get my own photocopies and lost 1 hour wating in the queue for this…prepare your photocopies before just in case)
  • Your “Documento de afiliación a la Seguridad social”, proof of your social security number, originals and photocopies
  • Your “Padrón”, proof that you belong to this Centro de Salud.
  • Your job contract and last salary, just in case – some ask for it for confirmation.

The administrative people at the Centro de Salud will then give you a paper stating that you are officially entitled to use this Centro de Salud. You will then receive the blue madrid card I showed you at the start of the post by the post.

If you have any kind of question, do not hesitate to contact us !



Madridly yours,
Pierre Waters & The Moving2Madrid Team
PS: If you liked this, do spread the love and press the “google +” and/or “Facebook like” buttons right under this !

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This post is also available in: Italian

Posted on Thursday, December 8th, 2011 by in Healthcare, Red Tape !

9 responses to “How to obtain your “Tarjeta Sanitaria” or Spain Health Insurance Card in Madrid ?”

  • Hi Pierre, i went to local health center with all the necessary documents (NIE, el
    pardon, Social security number) but they asked me to get appointment (cita) at
    Agenica INSS (c/isla de arosa, 20 b). It is also here in the link

    I don’t understand why do i have to go the Agenica INSS. I think Agenica INSS is
    for social security number. Can you please explain me on what to do?

    • Hi there,
      Here in Spain for minor visits that are not urgent you need to book a doctor first. As a first step you should get a personal doctor who works close to you house assigned, and then ask him for any other specific visit or a consultation

  • Hi Peter,

    I got the “tarjeta-sanitaria” (paper) yesterday. They just asked me for NIE card
    for my details and gave me the paper in 10 minutes. I will get my card in one
    month. It is very simple process but frist time when i went they asked me to go
    Agencia INSS (I dont why ) but yesterday i went with one of my Spanish friend, so problem solved.

    Steps in your blog is so perfect. Thanks so much for detailed description!

    Thanks again!

  • Hi Pierre,

    I am working in Madrid since 10 months ( Spanish work permit card). I have to renewal my card in March. Can you please tell me the steps thats needs to be followed to renew the card?

    Thanks so much in advance!

  • Hi. Good day.
    I just want to ask if what is the best thing to do.
    I just move here in Madrid last Aug. 2014.
    After marrying an EU national.
    Now My tarjeta de residencia is in the process. But I already got my NIE.
    I’m pregnant now . Am I carried by my husband in his tarjeta de sanitaria? So I can have my regular check up. Or I still need to apply for it?
    Thank you so much. Hoping for your reply..

  • Hi Pierre
    I wondered if you had any advice. I moved 3 weeks ago and am married and am also paying social security contributions myself. I have the security number and appointment for NIE. I went to see a doctor last week and they have referred me to a specialist. I have my initial Tarjeta form but no card yet and I don’t have my NIE number. However, I do have the number and referral from the doctor, am an EU citizen and registered for social security contributions. Will I be able to see the specialist without my NIE? It is so important and I can’t get an NIE appointment for 2 months! Any help greatly appreciated. Many thanks Lizzie

    • Hi Lizzie,
      You shouldn’t need your NIE number to see the specialist once you have your Social Security and you’re registered in the system, especially if you’ve been referred by a GP from your Centro de Salud. If you have any doubts, you could always ring the specialist’s office just to make sure. It might help to put your mind at ease.

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