Health care


Country Report: Health care Last updated: 30/11/20


Spanish law foresees full access to the public health care system for all asylum seekers.[1] Through this legal provision, they are entitled to the same level of health care as nationals and third-country nationals legally residing in Spain, including access to more specialised treatment for persons who have suffered torture, severe physical or psychological abuses or traumatising circumstances.

Since the 2012 reform of access to the Public Health System, which had limited the previously guaranteed universal access to health care, asylum seekers had been facing problems in receiving medical assistance, even though it is provided by law. In particular, some asylum seekers were denied medical assistance, because medical personnel was not acquainted with the “red card” (tarjeta roja) that applicants are provided with, or they did not know that asylum seekers were entitled to such right.

In September 2018, the Government approved a decree reinstating universal access to the Public Health System, thus covering irregular migrants as well.[2]

Although access to special treatment and the possibility to receive treatment from psychologists and psychiatrists is free and guaranteed, it should be highlighted that in Spain there are no specialised structures for victims of severe violations and abuses like the ones faced by asylum seekers escaping war, indiscriminate violence or torture. There are no specialised medical centres that exclusively and extensively treat these particular health problems.

Currently, there are different NGOs in charge of places for asylum seekers with mental health needs. For about 5 years, Accem, in collaboration with Arbeyal, a private company, managed the “Hevia Accem-Arbeyal” centre,[3] specialised in disability and mental health. During 2018, it opened the Centre for the Reception and Integral Assistance to Persons with Mental Health Problems (Centro de Acogida y Atención Integral a Personas con Problemas de Salud Mental), and it’s dedicated to asylum seekers, beneficiaries of international protection and to migrants in a situation of vulnerability. The purpose of the residential centre is to offer a space for assistance, care and coexistence to people whose mental illness impedes their integration.

In addition, CEAR also manages places specialised in asylum seekers with mental conditions. La Merced Migraciones Foundation also provides reception places for young adult asylum seekers who need special assistance due to mental health-related conditions. Other NGOs have also developed specific resources to assist and accompany asylum seekers with mental health needs, such as Bayt al-Thaqafa (which is member of the Federación Red Acoge), Progestión, Provivienda and Pinardi. The NGO Valencia Accull (which is member of the Federación Red Acoge) has opened a reception facility in Valencia for single female asylum seekers/refugees. Information on organisations providing such services in Spain is not public.


[1] Article 15 Asylum Regulation.

[2] El País, ‘El Congreso aprueba el decreto para recuperar la sanidad universal’, 6 September 2018, available in Spanish at:

[3] See the dedicated website at:


Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation