Spain Explained

Dealing with an emergency in Spain

Last updated on September 13th, 2019 at 09:10 am.

We all hope that the need will never arise, but it is important to be prepared for an emergency in Spain – just in case. In many respects the Spanish emergency services work in a very similar way to most other countries.

The European emergency number is 112. You might help a child to remember this (or perhaps even yourself!) by thinking of a face and working up – 1 mouth, 1 nose, 2 eyes.  You can call this number from any phone without charge.

Some useful vocabulary includes:





I need an ambulance/ a doctor/ the police/ fire brigade

necesito un ambulancia/ medico/ policia/ bomberos



24 hour chemist

farmacia de guardia

Remember, your EHIC card gives you emergency treatment in Spain if you are a non-resident. If you are resident in Spain you will need either a SIP card that entitles you to treatment by the Spanish health service or to have private health insurance.

If you do unfortunately find that you are in need of emergency treatment but can arrange transport yourself, then you should attend the emergency department at the nearest hospital. You should take your EHIC/ SIP or proof of private health insurance with you.

In some emergencies you might need to contact your country’s embassy or consular office. They can usually provide help and advice in emergency situations. You can find contact details for different embassies at

It is always a good idea to keep important numbers, including emergency numbers, somewhere in addition to your purse or handbag, just in case it is this that is stolen or lost. If you do want to report a crime you will need to make a denuncia at the police station. If you don’t speak Spanish fluently then it is important to take an interpreter with you.

There are three different types of police:

  • Local police (Policía Local) – controlled by the town hall they respond to minor crimes and traffic offences but pass on major crimes to either the Guardia Civil or National Police
  • Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) – these have a green uniform and you should make your denuncia either to them or the national police
  • National police (Policía Nacional)  – normally wear black uniforms or sometimes navy blue military style uniforms

There are plenty of services out there to support you. If you need the help don’t be afraid to call.

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