Emergency Assistance for Irish Citizens in Spain


The Embassy in Madrid, supported by its network of ten Honorary Consulates throughout Spain, was by far the busiest consular post in the network of Irish missions worldwide in 2013.  There were 1.3 million visits by Irish tourists to Spain in 2013, making Ireland the 10th largest source of visitors to Spain in the world.

The huge number of Irish visitors is reflected in the volume of consular assistance the Embassy provides: we assisted in approximately 350 consular emergencies in 2013, including a large number of deaths, arrests and hospitalisations. 

Most Irish visitors to Spain do not experience problems. However, when things go wrong, difficulties encountered abroad can often seem more frightening and distressing than at home due to unfamiliarity with language and local procedures.

For further information on what to bear in mind when travelling to Spain, please see our current travel advice.  Further information, including lists of local English-speaking lawyers, doctors etc., are also available on our individual Honorary Consulates pages. We also have a page on Living and Working in Spain.

Consular Duty Service Out of Hours

If you require emergency assistance from the Embassy, please contact us on: +34 914364093.  If you phone outside normal working hours, you will be asked to leave a message on the answering machine.  The answering machine is monitored regularly, and the Duty Officer at the Embassy will contact you as soon as possible.  When you leave a message, remember to state your name, the nature of the problem, where you are now, and the details of how the Duty Officer can contact you (e.g. leave your mobile phone number, or the phone number of the hotel/hostel where you are staying).  Please bear in mind, this duty service is operated from the Embassy in Madrid (not the Honorary Consulates). You may also wish to called the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin directly at 00353-1-4780822 or 00353-1-4082000

Contacting the police & emergency services

To contact the emergency services in Spain, dial 112 - responding operators all speak English.

There are two main police forces in Spain, the Policía Nacional and the Guardia Civil. 

Policía Nacional (dial 091)
The Policía Nacional (National Police) is the nationwide metropolitan police agency of Spain.  It deals with criminal, judicial, terrorism and immigration matters. 

Guardia Civil (dial 062)
The Guardia Civil (Civil Guard) operates mainly in rural areas. It has both military and civilian functions.

In most urban areas, there is also the Policia Local (dial 092) which is responsible for traffic inside the cities and minor crime.

Making a police report

You can make a police report in three different ways:

1.  In person.  A list of police stations in the different regions of Spain is available here.  It is important to note that English language interpreters are not always available at short notice: it may be advisable to bring a Spanish-speaking person with you.   

2. By phone: You can make a police report by phone in English by phoning 901 102 112. The English language service is available from 9am - 9pm, seven days a week. Once you have made your report, you will be instructed to pick up a signed copy of the report at your nearest police station. However, some crimes, particularly more serious crimes or those involving violence, can only be reported in person.

3. Online: You can also make a police report online, but in Spanish only. If in Cataluña, please use this form which has an English option.  Some crimes, especially more serious crimes involving physical violence, must be reported in person.  

Loss/Theft of Passport

Tourist in Spain

1.    If your passport is lost or stolen you must immediately report this to your nearest Comisaría (police station) and make a report (denuncia).  You can read how to do this in the section "Making a police report" above.

*The police report will sometimes be accepted by some airlines in lieu of a passport, and this will allow you to travel back to Ireland. * However, you should always check with your airline before going to the airport 

2.    If your airline will not accept the police report, you should contact the Embassy at +34 914364093.   

3.     If you are in an emergency situation requiring urgent travel you can phone the Embassy (+34 914364093) outside normal working hours. You will be asked to leave a message on the answering machine.  The answering machine is monitored regularly, and the Duty Officer at the Embassy will contact you as soon as possible.  When you leave a message, remember to state your name, the nature of the emergency, where you are now, and the details of how the Duty Officer can contact you (e.g. leave your mobile phone number, or the phone number of the hotel/hostel where you are staying).  Please bear in mind, this duty service is operated from the Embassy in Madrid (not the Honorary Consulates).  Please do not use this service lightly – it is provided strictly for emergencies ONLY.

There are two types of document which the Embassy can issue to enable you to travel home. If you need to travel in the next few days, we can issue a ONE JOURNEY ONLY Emergency Travel Certificate (see below) to facilitate your trip home. If your passport is lost/stolen at the beginning of your trip and you are not leaving Spain for several weeks, you must apply for a Restricted Emergency Passport. (see below)

What you need in order to apply for an Emergency Travel Certificate:

  • Your original police report,
  • two passport photographs,
  • proof of your flight home
  • evidence of your identity/citizenship – you will need to ask somebody to bring your original long form birth certificate (and civil marriage certificate in the case of a married woman whose passport name is in her married surname), or an old cancelled passport, to a Garda Station in Ireland and fax it/them to the Embassy or your nearest Honorary Consulate  fax number 
  • there is a fee of €15 for this service.  The fee for the Emergency Travel Certificate HAS to be paid in cash in person. 

Please bear in mind this service is not available in our Honorary Consulates  at the weekend.  If your flight is during the weekend and the airline will not allow you to travel on your police report, you will have to arrange a new flight for during the week and obtain an ETC during normal work hours.  An ETC is for one journey only and has an extremely restricted validity.  Therefore, you will have to apply for a new passport as soon as you return home. 

If you lose your passport and do not have travel plans for several days the ETC is normally issued on the last working day before your date of travel. 

If your passport is lost/stolen at the beginning of your trip and you are not leaving Spain for several weeks you will need to apply for a Restricted Emergency Passport.  

What you need in order to apply for a Restricted Emergency Passport:

Resident in Spain

You should go to the nearest Comisaría (police station) and make a report (denuncia) reporting the loss of your passport.  You can read how to do this in the section "making a police report" above. 

Keep a copy of your police report as you will have to submit the original with your application for a new passport. 

You need to then begin the process of replacing your lost/stolen passport. Application forms for a new passport are available at the Embassy in Madrid or any of the Honorary Consulates. Please click here for general advice on applying for a passport in Spain

With a view to preventing identity theft and the circulation of falsified passports, additional safeguards have been introduced into the passport application procedure for adults wishing to replace a lost/stolen/damaged passport.  With effect from January 2011, adult applicants in these categories are required to submit additional evidence in support of their passport applications - please click here to see additional requirements

Travel Insurance

It is essential to acquire comprehensive travel insurance before travelling to Spain.  While a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will entitle you to some reduced costs, or free emergency care in Spain, it should not be regarded as a substitute for proper travel insurance provided by a reputable insurer.  Failure to take out insurance can lead to considerable financial and logistical difficulties for you and/or your family should problems arise.  For example, an air ambulance to repatriate you home following a serious accident can cost in the region of €20,000. 

Your travel insurance policy should cover the entire period you are abroad until you arrive home.   You may wish to consider an annual multi-trip insurance policy if you are making more than one trip abroad during the year as this will save time and money.   Always check the conditions and exclusions of your policy; most policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents.   

Your policy should at the very minimum cover the following: 

  • medical and health cover for an injury or sudden illness abroad, including medical evacuation/repatriation
  • 24 hour emergency service and assistance
  • personal liability cover (in case you are sued for causing injury or damaging property)
  • lost and stolen possessions cover
  • cancellation and curtailment cover
  • cover for activities that are often excluded from standard policies (e.g. water sport activities such as jet skiing)

Accident/assault victims

Our officials will do everything possible to assist you if you have been the victim of an accident or assault.

While we cannot give you legal or medical advice, or formally recommend or pay for doctors or lawyers, we can provide information on local legal and medical practitioners. 

All cases are treated in complete confidence.  We can also help you to contact friends and family and assist with arrangements to get you home, if that is your wish.

All persons who have been assaulted or in an accident must report the incident to the Police (please see Loss/Theft of Passport Section for advice as to how to do this).   If necessary, and particularly in serious cases, the police will provide an interpreter.

Whilst the Embassy can provide some helpful and practical information, it is essential to engage a local lawyer to act as your representative if a prosecution is being considered.


  • If you are arrested, you may ask the Spanish authorities to inform the Embassy of your arrest.
    The Embassy can:
  • Visit you or arrange for you to be visited by an Honorary Consul once you have been charged and detained – a visit cannot take place while under arrest and waiting for a court hearing.
  • If necessary, provide you with a list of local English-speaking lawyers
  • Advise you about the prison system and about your entitlement to visits, mail and other facilities
  • Bring details of any medical condition you may have to the attention of prison officials
  • Pursue with the prison authorities on your behalf any complaints about ill-treatment or discrimination
  • Pass messages to and from your family

However, the Embassy cannot:

  • Secure better treatment for Irish citizens than local or other nationals receive
  • Give or pay for legal advice
  • Recommend specific lawyers
  • Interfere with or influence the proper operation and application of the local judicial system
  • Provide any financial assistance while you are in prison
  • Pay bail bonds or fines        

Death Abroad

If a member of your family dies while abroad, the Irish Embassy will provide all possible assistance in dealing with the formalities that arise in these situations.

The Embassy can:

  • Arrange to have the next of kin of the deceased informed by the Garda Síochána
  • Assist relatives to appoint a local undertaker
  • Assist with procuring documents such as death certificates or medical or police reports
  • Assist relatives to communicate with the Police and other authorities

However, the Embassy does not:

  • Investigate the circumstances of the death
  • Pay expenses relating to local burial or cremation
  • Pay the cost of repatriating the remains
  • Pay for relatives to travel to where the death occurred or to accompany the remains to Ireland

If the deceased was covered by travel insurance, it is important for next of kin to contact the insurance company without delay.  If there is no insurance cover, the cost of repatriation or burial will have to be met by the family.
Families should be aware that the time required in order for remains to be repatriated may vary depending on the individual circumstances surrounding a death.  A minimum of a week is quite usual from Spain.  However, there may be circumstances where repatriation can be delayed for longer.

In cases of sudden or unexpected death an autopsy may be required.  Further investigation may be necessary before a decision as to cause of death is reached.  If death was caused by a criminal act, the police will be ordered to conduct a full investigation.  The State Prosecutor will then decide whether to prosecute.  This can delay the release of the body for burial.

During an autopsy, organs can be removed for testing, including toxicological analysis, at the discretion of the doctor, without consent of next of kin.  Next of kin are not informed in advance about the removal of any organs.  The remains can be repatriated before tests on removed organs are completed.  The family of the deceased can seek a court order requiring the eventual return of these organs once testing is complete.  


In an emergency, please go to the nearest public hospital.  If you have run out of prescribed medication, bring your empty box of medication to a pharmacy to see if it can be filled before looking for a doctor. 

For information on English speaking medical services in Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga and other major Spanish cities, please click here.

If you become ill or require hospital treatment while in Spain, you or your friends/family can contact the Embassy/nearest Honorary Consulate for assistance if you need help in dealing with the situation.

The Embassy can:

  • Offer general advice on the local medical services
  • Assist in liaising with doctors or hospitals
  • Arrange interpretation if necessary
  • Advise relatives or friends about accidents or illnesses
  • Assist in arranging repatriation to Ireland

It is important to stress that the Embassy does not have funds to pay hospital bills or meet other medical expenses on your behalf.

Also, the Embassy does not:

  • Provide medical advice
  • Pursue insurance companies about payment of or refund of the cost of medical treatment
  • Pursue claims for compensation relating to negligence, injury or any other matter
  • Pay for visits by relatives

Air Ambulance

Please be aware that a medical evacuation to Ireland from Spain can cost upwards of €20,000. Comprehensive travel insurance is essential in order to protect yourself in the event of a serious medical emergency requiring medical repatriation to Ireland. Click here for a list of air ambulance service providers.  

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Embassy of Ireland
Ireland House
Paseo de la Castellana 46-4
28046 Madrid

Tel: + 34 91 436 4093
Fax: +34 91 435 1677
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