Which documents are necessary when travelling to Spain (Including the Balearic and Canary Islands)

Congratulations! You are going on holiday! 

The preparations have been done, you have checked your government´s website – www.gov.uk – for the latest information on the Corona virus, the hotel has been selected, the flights have been booked, the excursions have been considered, the sun cream has been added to your suitcase but one thing still remains to be done:

Your travel insurance!

The travel insurance is one of the most important documents to have when you travel. Of course you hope that nothing will occur, but unfortunately an accident can happen.  It could save you and your family a lot of money and difficulty if things go wrong before or during your trip. 

After 10 years working as an interpreter/translator in the emergency department of a hospital in Tenerife, I have seen many cases come by:

  • you slip in the bathroom and fall with your side on the edge of the bathtub – risk of broken ribs
  • You have had your hair braided under the burning sun and the sensitive scalp isn’t used to being exposed to the sun – your forehead is swollen and painful.
  • During a walk in Tenerife’s beautiful nature, you step on loose stones and cut yourself, or even worse, you break an ankle.
  • You are a fanatic surfer, fall off your surfboard and it hits your forehead  and causes an open wound 
  • Or you just swim in the sea and don’t notice that there are jellyfish in the sea – burns from the tentacles

… and I can go on like this.

It all sounds terrible and situations like these can ruin your holiday but having travel insurance can save you a lot of suffering and anxiety.

Travel insurance should contain several components:

  • Cancellation insurance: due to illness or other reasons, you cannot or are not allowed to leave.
  • Travel interruption insurance: you have already left but you have to cancel or cut short your trip due to illness or other reasons.
  • Health insurance: You fall ill or have an accident whilst travelling. Make sure that you declare any pre-existing medical conditions to your insurer.

In addition to these insurance policies Europe has another  ‘insurance’ – the European Health Insurance Card (the EHIC card). In the UK you are required to apply for this card with the NHS. One phone call and your personal identity number is enough. The card is free and it  entitles you to free first aid in most private and all public hospitals and public health centers. It is valid together with your identity card or passport. Please note that this card has a validity date so please check this before you leave. At the time of writing this article the EHIC card is still valid, please verify if this has changed after Brexit. (www.gov.uk)

As mentioned before, one hopes nothing will happen, but the old adage “prevention is better than cure” still applies.

How does it work when something happens?

The hospitals in Tenerife are private or public. In public hospitals there are no interpreters/translators in Spanish. You will have to bring your own. 

Private hospitals often employ interpreters/translators in all European languages. It is great to see how relieved patients and their relatives are when they realise that in a foreign country and in a strange hospital someone actually speaks their own language. It alleviates much of the fear and anxiety knowing that one can make oneself understood.

The patient’s details are recorded and he or she is examined as soon as possible. With the help of the interpreter/translator Spanish, communication between the patient and the doctor/nurse is not a problem.  After the necessary examinations, a diagnosis will be made and you can either go home or be advised to stay overnight. Obviously, the end decision to be hospitalised or not remains yours. 

In the meantime you have probably already been in touch with your travel insurance company. In case of outpatient treatment, you will most likely have to pay the bill and submit it later to your insurance company. If you become an inpatient, your insurance will intervene and they will cover the costs. (The amount of coverage depends on the type of insurance you have). The hospital will send the medical report to your insurance company for evaluation.

Important Tips:

  • When travelling abroad please make sure you always carry a copy of your passport, insurance card and travel documents with you. You can leave the originals in the hotel or apartment. If something happens you may not have time to return to your apartment or hotel. Also, leave a copy of your insurance documents with friends or family back home, in case they need to contact your insurance company on your behalf.
  • ICE = “In Case of Emergency” – please carry a telephone number from home or a contact person with your travel documents in case of an emergency.
  • If you regularly take medication, always carry a list of your medication in your wallet. Most likely you always carry your wallet with you.
    In addition, ask your treating physician to print out a list of the medication you are currently on (your usual prescription) and take this with you.
    This is extremely important because if you are not conscious, confused or too nervous to remember,  on arrival at the hospital your bag or wallet will be searched for identification and medical history. Knowing which medications the patient is taking regularly will help the emergency doctors start with the right treatment immediately.
  • If you take medication every day, make sure to carry extra medication with you when you travel. This  is in case something happens and you need to stay longer. The doctors will certainly assist you if you need a new prescription, but sometimes certain medicines are slightly different or perhaps not available in other countries. Find out about the availability of your regular medicines before you go on holiday.
  • Always carry your medication in your hand luggage. Nothing is more annoying and worrying than if that one suitcase containing the medication does not travel with you on the plane. You certainly don’t want to start your holiday like that!
  • If you need medical devices, like devices for sleep apnea, nebulisers, etc., make sure you have extra parts for these devices as well. These kinds of devices are often not the same abroad, parts might not available and these devices cannot always be rented. 

If you have any questions about the procedures in a hospital in Tenerife, if you need help or a translator with a visit to a general practitioner or specialist or if you would like to know more about this particular subject, please do not hesitate to call Lucas Island Services: 

We are at your disposal and will be happy to assist you. You can reach us on +34 608 988 867 or +34 650 540 363.