Living in Spain - General

Emergencies

Police - Fire - Ambulance. Telephone - just dial the number 112*. They have multilingual operators available, just ask for the service you require and explain your problem. This also acts on most mobile phones
Traffic Police Phone 963 695 899
Red Cross Ambulance Service.
Available on 96 525 2525

*Note: this emergency number is valid in several provinces (including Valencia) but is not common to all regions of Spain.

British Consulate Paul Rodwell. Alicante. Tel 902 109 356 Work hours 8.30 - 1.30
British Consular Emergency Service (+34) 902 109 356 for any emergency queries at any time of any day. Leave a message and someone will normally get back to you within one hour of your call. British Ambassador. Giles Paxman LVO, Madrid. Tel 91 700 8200

Emergency Telephone Numbers

Ambulance Service (Ambulancia)061 no dial code needed.
Local Police (Policía Municipal)092
Fire Service (Bomberos)080
Duty Pharmacies010
Social Help Centre (24 hour)900 703 030

Emergency Calls from SOS phones on main roads and motorways are free. Other emergency calls are charged at a reduced rate.

Taxis By law, taxis are obliged to transport medical emergencies to hospital when requested to do so.

If You Are Involved In An Emergency

When calling the emergency services, you should try and give the age of the patient and type of emergency so that the ambulance can have a doctor on board if necessary.

Useful words to learn

Heart attackataque cardiaco
Car Accidentaccidente de coche
DoctorMedico
AccidentAccidente
AmbulanceAmbulancia
EmergencyUrgencia
Fire BrigadeBomberos
Medical CentreCentros Médicos
ChemistFarmacia

Police Action

If you are arrested you will be given the free services of a duty solicitor (abogado de oficio), who may not understand English.

You are entitled to make a phone call.

If you use this to contact your embassy or consulate, they will only be able to refer you to a lawyer who speaks your language or pass details to your next of kin etc. However, if you end up in court, the authorities are obliged to provide a translator.

Emergency Travel to Hospital - no ambulance available or contactable.

If for any reason you need to use your own vehicle to get to a hospital in an emergency, hang a WHITE towel, shirt or other article out of the window of your vehicle. Switch on your head lights.The police recognise the white item as an emergency situation and will give you assistance. I do have personal experience of this.

My wife recently broke her ankle, no ambulance available, "Headlights on, Emergency Flashers on, White cloth out of window", stopped by police, explained , they called the Denia hospital to advise we were on our way, as we approached roundabouts other cars held back to assist us. Excellent help but take care, every one will not be aware of this emergency warning.

See also Accident & Emergency

Banking

Banking in Spain is considerably different from England. For further information, read my new article on Spanish Banking and Bank Charges

Spanish Public Consumer Organisation

Organismos Publicos de Consumo

Having trouble with traders/suppliers etcetera? There is an excellent organisation in Spain named OMIC: it is very similar to the British Standards or Consumer organisation.

Be aware you cannot expect them to speak English, although you may be lucky. If you have a real complaint, before getting a lawyer, try getting a Spanish speaking friend to describe your problem to OMIC. I have friends who had been trying to sort out a poor quality argument regarding two costly armchairs for over a year; many promises but negative results until they contacted OMIC, within four weeks the chairs were replaced brand new.

There are branches in various parts of Spain. Try phoning or writing to the following address:

ORGANISMOS PUBLICOS DE CONSUMO
Plaça de L'ajuntament, 17
46410 - SUECA (Valencia)
Teléfono: 96 170 00 50 Ext. 216
Fax: 96 171 05 35
Email: omic@infosueca.com

Clothing for the Spanish Climate

Much misguided advice is given to would be émigrés regarding Spanish weather, particularly in regard to the lack of requirement for warm clothing. Having completed two full winters I can assure you that whilst we have been delighted with the clemency of the climate, it does have a considerable variation of temperature. It can get very cold, on exceptional occasions, particularly at night and even more so if you live in one of the higher villages or towns in the mountains.

If you live on the lower coastal plain we have a great deal of sunshine and only occasional bursts of rain. However, if you buy an old Finca or Farmhouse, many have small windows and very thick walls, they keep out the light. Even if you enlarge the windows, thick walls make for very cold houses for several months of the year. It can also be very expensive on fuel, particularly if the property doesn't face South.

Likewise if your house is in the hills on the slopes below the crest, many properties, even in the sunniest areas do not see direct sunlight for several months of the year. Beautifull views do not always compensate for the cold and it can be very cold in the hills. Pay particular attention if you suffer from arthritus, chest or spinal problems. Likewise, if you are a keen fitness person who is keen to have your own swimming pool, unless you install heating, it may not warm up until late June/July.

One day at Christmas my wife and I left Gandia at 11am (9 deg C mild but sunny) for luncheon in the mountains. At 2 pm sitting in a restaurant on the high plateau it started snowing and the temperature had fallen to 0 deg; before setting off home we were playing in the snow with our Spanish friends’ 4 year old daughter who had never before seen snow. Back in Gandia at 5pm it was sunny and the temperature was back to 9 deg C. You can be unlucky and have a poor week but you always know the sun will return within a few days.

If you enjoy sightseeing or skiing the Pyrenees mountains are not so very far away.
My advice. come with clothes for all eventualities. You’ll only rarely need them but they are essential. You do need rainwear and umbrellas.

Local Nasties.

Details of some of the natural hazards that may be encountered around Spain may be found on my Dangerous Wildlife page.

Veterinary Services. Spain is well supported by Veterinaries. See the Medical Specialist Contacts

Insurance Services - House, Fire, Theft, Car, etc

There are many companies. Ask your friends and/or look in Yellow Pages under the heading Seguros, phone and check for English speaking. (Some work only in specific areas, car only etc). Don't take the first option you see, whether it is for car or property. I suggest you obtain three or more quotes against the same goal posts before you decide.

We had quotes varying from £950 down to £285 pa for fully comprehensive cover on a new Focus Estate car (the most expensive being from the car main dealer). We took the one that was most clearly defined, it was also the lowest. It was Spanish and when we had an accident on the Motorway (no other vehicle involved) were so efficient, after investigation they wrote to say we would suffer no loss of no claims bonus and no increased premium as it was not our fault. I felt this was an exceptional company. Name on request.

Make sure you get the terms written in English.

For no-obligation assistance, click here to fill in my Home and Contents Insurance Info Request form or click here for my Car Insurance Info Request form.

Importation of Household Goods and Personal Effects into Spain from countries within the EU

I understand that there are no customs formalities for personal effects, including vehicles and pleasure boats, imported into Spain from any country within the EU. VAT will be exempt provided that the importation takes place within the twelve months of a person's residence in Spain and upon documentary proof that it was paid in the country of origin.

Importing vehicles into Spain. There are important differences for residents and non-residents as detailed on my Cars page.

Passport Renewal

If you need to renew your passport, you have two options at varying costs:

  1. Go to your local Consular Agent: or to the main Consular office in Alicante ( it is situated above the Farmecia in the Square opposite Cortes Engles) this is staffed by the most helpful people I have ever found in a government office. English and several languages are spoken. you must take 4 passport sized photographs, show him your current passport and he will supply you with an application form which must be completed in his presence and then countersigned and officially stamped by him. The forms are then sent together with your old passport and renewal fee (aprox €91 per person) to the Madrid address named on the application form. If you do this yourself it is advisable to register the letter at the Correos)
    The Denia Sub Consular office is at Ramon y Cajal 8. Aptdo de Correos 242. 03700 Denia.Tel 96 578 1815.
  2. When in England go to any Post Office and obtain Passport Renewal forms, complete as described on the forms and give them over the counter together with two photographs, your old passport and £33 they will post the new passport to your stated address. (You have the option to pay an additional £5 when they will check that the form has been filled in correctly and guarantee to return the new passport within one week)

Lost/Stolen Passports

If you have lost your pasport or had it stolen. Immediately contact the Local Police and the British Consulate. Alicante. Tel 96 521 6022 Work hours 8.30 - 1.30 You must obtain a report from your local Police station veryfying that you have reported the loss,etc.This report must be taken with you when you attend the Consular office to apply for renewal. As for normal renewal you must follow the above general instructions re photographs etc. Costs I believe are the same.

Education in Spain

If you are considering moving to Spain and have children of school age it is most important that before you visit Spain to look for a likely property and, in particular, before signing any contract to buy property, you read my separate pages on the Spanish Education System and the languages of Spain

The Gandia Area Social Club (International)

The club (GASC) has been established for some 18 years and has a current membership approaching 300. The club meets every Thursday, for a dinner and social evening at restaurant Viva Espana, just 6 km outside Gandia on the main A332 towards Oliva.

Whilst English is the general language spoken it offers a friendly welcome to all nationalities. The membership includes our local Spanish friends, Belgian, Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Polish, Swedish and Swiss. The many functions arranged include Dinner Dances, Theatre Visits, Benidorm Palace, Valencia and day coach trips to places of general interest which end up with an evening meal at different restaurants. They also meet twice weekly for a game of Petanca; the popular Spanish ball game, also each Wednesday, two groups meet for walking, you can join either the gentle Ramblers or the more energetic Hill Walkers.

The club is particularly supportive of new arrivals to Spain. Learning a new language and assimilating new customs is not always easy and membership of the Club makes you feel less lonely in the early months whilst building your new home, you can also gather useful news on where to find the best white goods supplier, a good plumber, a dentist or where best to shop for a bargain. The club also supports a number of charities.

You don't need to be a member, just go along any Thursday evening, introduce yourself to David as a guest and see how you and the club fit together; you will certainly be made to feel very welcome. I was the Membership secretary for 2003/4 but now my web site takes up so very much of my time. If you prefer to be more formal or have any questions,
Call David Kitching the club VP on 00 34 - 96 287 8298 or me on 96 296 0920
Or see the club web site

Wills

It is good sense to have a Spanish will, do ask your solicitor for his advice. Make sure the proposed solicitor can supply printed Wills in both Spanish and your spoken language. (English, French, German etc) If your will is only in one language and is contested in court (if involved) the court could order a translation by a designated translator (good or bad). Better to forestall possible problems so before you confirm his appointment, ask any solicitor on the phone what he charges to prepare a will and supply it printed in both languages (solicitors charges can vary dramatically) They may also offer to act as your executor, again check costs.

When you are given the English translation, do read and make sure your intensions have been translated as you require, a wrong interpretation could totally frustrate your intensions. This is essential before the will is recorded.

Separate Finance. Husbands, wives & Partners please note:

I would advise that all couples have at least some separate source of finance that is not tied to both parties. In a recent bereavement, an expat's widow was left with all of their joint finances frozen until the Court ruled on the matter. The wife needed external assistance to keep going until the Will was settled. It can take some months causing considerable distress and hardship. Make some provision.

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