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Education and Healthcare in Spain

Living in Spain holds many attractions, but is not without its challenges. Life on the Iberian Peninsula will indeed be more laidback once you have gotten used to expatriate life there. InterNations supports you with essential information on Spain, from housing to healthcare.

International Schools: Cost and Quality of Private Education

Many expats in Spain consider sending their children to an international school, preferably with the option of an international baccalaureate, so that they have the opportunity to continue studying abroad. A major drawback of these private schools is the fact that they are usually very expensive. In fact, the average international school fee is around 750 EUR per month, depending on the school and the child’s age.

Spain’s international schools are highly regarded and usually employ mostly experienced international teachers. The most common international schools, where some locals also send their children, are American, British, German, and French schools. Please contact your nearest embassy or consulate for a list of international schools in your area.

Local Schools — Everything You Need to Know

The Spanish academic standards vary between cities, neighborhoods, and individual schools. It is important to know that the public education system in Spain is free for all children residing in Spain. And it is mandatory for all kids and teens to attend school between the ages of six and sixteen. Most parents opt for preschool and kindergarten as well, once their kids are three years old.

Spanish schools are divided by age groups into three or four types. There’s the primary school (colegio) teaching children from the ages of six to twelve and the secondary school (instituto), which twelve to sixteen-year-olds attend After that, adolescents can take the bachillerato, which is no longer compulsory, and is an equivalent degree to the British A-Levels or the American high school diploma.

Healthcare Coverage in Spain

Spain has no known health risks, and no immunizations are necessary before entering the country, The Spanish healthcare system is a non-contributory system paid for by tax revenues and every resident of Spain has a right to contribute to and benefit from this system. However, if you are a non-EU national living in Spain, you are entitled to healthcare only if you are a legal resident and currently paying for social security. This means that you must either work in the country or be self-employed there.

Citizens of EU member states who are living in Spain will automatically have access to health coverage in Spain once they become legal Spanish residents. For shorter stays EU citizens should get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from their healthcare provider back home which will give them access to state-provided healthcare. 

Each of the country’s 17 Autonomous Communities (Comunidades Autonomas) is responsible for offering health services to the regional population through the services, centers, and establishments of the community.

Private Healthcare — Avoiding the Queues

The Spanish healthcare system offers high-quality services. Due to the fact that medical care is state-run, though, hospitals are often overcrowded, resulting in long waiting periods. For this reason, Spaniards sometimes choose private health insurance. One of the most popular private insurance providers is Sanitas, whose website also helps you locate the specialists they cover. Dentists are private doctors in Spain and, they are usually not covered by your health insurance. It is important to keep in mind that, you are unable to buy medication anywhere other than at the pharmacies (Farmacías), that can be found on almost every street corner, clearly marked by signs in the shape of green crosses.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

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