Healthplan Spain


Spanish emergency number on mobile Calling The Emergency Services When In Spain Expat Tips

Living in Spain is fantastic. Most of the people who decide to relocate with the idea of spending their retirement years in the warm Mediterranean sun are more than happy with their life choice. You must, however, plan carefully, especially when it comes down to things like healthcare.

It doesn’t matter what age you are, or what station you may be in, in life. You may be a retired couple, or a young family with children to support; but when it comes down to needing to call for the emergency services in Spain – be it the police, an ambulance, or a fire engine, you need to know what to do and the emergency telephone numbers to call.

I'm surprised at just how many expats I hear asking, "What is the emergency number in Spain?". Well read on and let's find out the most important ones to remember.

In the UK it’s easy. It’s ingrained into each and every one of us from an early age. All you need to do is to pick up the phone, dial 999, and explain your situation, and what it is you need; all in plain simple English, and its job done. But what about when you are living abroad, somewhere like Spain? What must you do here, and what are your chances of being understood? Well, that’s exactly why we’re publishing this brief article. To explain what numbers you need to call for which services, and to tell you how to prepare to put your emergency into words that will be understood by the person on the other end of the phone.

First of all, you mustn’t expect the person that answers your emergency call to speak English. We Brits do have a bit of a problem when it comes down to learning foreign languages. Because English is so widely spoken, we tend to expect everyone we come across to understand it. A lot of people do of course, but when it comes to foreign nationals in their own country, (like Spain for example), the majority of them don’t speak or understand it.

If you put the boot on the other foot for a moment, you wouldn’t expect an English telephone operator in the UK to understand Spanish, German, or Italian for example, would you? So you need to be prepared.

Whatever you do, you mustn’t get too frustrated or excited if the person on the other end of the line does not speak English. Simply do your best to remain calm, and talk quietly and slowly, keeping your words as simple as possible. You’ll find that many words are similar, like doctor, or hospital. Yes, they’re spoken in a different accent with stresses in different places and sometimes missing letters (for example the Spanish don’t pronounce the letter “H” it’s usually silent). But there may be enough similarities with some words, and if you speak clearly and slowly, eventually you’ll be able to make the other person understand you. Better still, learn some phrases, or copy them down from a phrasebook, and keep them handy, near the phone. Of course, if you know a Spanish speaker who can help – better still!

So much for the language aspect; now let’s turn our attention to the actual numbers to call.

Emergency Service Telephone Numbers In Spain

  • Ambulance (ambulancia in Spanish) - 112 (from anywhere in Spain – no area code needed)
  • Police (policia in Spanish) - 112 (from anywhere in Spain – no area code needed)
  • Fire Brigade (cuerpo de bomberos) - 112 (from anywhere in Spain – no area code needed)
  • To report a robbery an assault, break-in or other crime - 902 102 112
  • The British Consulate (Madrid) - 917 146 300
  • National Police (Policía Nacional) - 091
  • Local Police (Policía Local) - 092
  • Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) - 062
  • Road information about traffic jams and accidents - 011
  • To report a traffic incident - 060
  • Red Cross Emergencies - 902 222 292 - 24 hr Helpline 900 100 333
  • Maritime Sea Rescue (Salvamento y Segurida Maritima) - 900 202 202
  • Citizens Advice Spain (English) - 615 814 264 (10am - 2pm Mon-Thurs) or email

It might also be a good idea to bookmark and share this page on social media with your friends and family as well to make sure they are aware of these numbers. Also, keep a note of the numbers in your handbag or wallet as well as next to the phone – just in case you might encounter an emergency situation when you’re out and about. You never know – it always pays to be prepared.

For any non-emergency enquiries, you may want to try Twitter! The Spanish police have now adopted the social media platform and regularly post important information. If you have a question, why not send them a tweet @policia

You can learn more about the different Spanish police forces via our article - Police In Spain: A Guide To The Three Spanish Police Forces

Expat Health Insurance Spain

If you are living in Spain and looking for private expat health insurance cover, please check out our range of great-value health insurance policies. Our policies are in English and underwritten by Bupa.

Get a quick quote here

Photo courtesy of ec-jpr on Flickr.