Working and immigrating to Spain as a doctor involves a multifaceted process, including qualification recognition, registration with medical authorities, and navigating the visa system, all aimed at integrating into the Spanish healthcare system and society.

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Immigrate to Spain as a Doctor

How to Work in Spain as a Doctor?

Yes, a foreign doctor can work in Spain, but some specific requirements and procedures must be followed:

  • Recognition of Medical Qualifications
  • Learn the Spanish Language
  • Registration with the Medical Association
  • Job Seeking
  • Work Permit and Visa Process
  • Arriving in Spain
  • Continuing Education

Step 1. Recognition of Medical Qualifications

For a non-EU doctor aiming to work in Spain, the first step is to have their medical degree recognized through a process called “homologation.” This involves submitting an application with academic credentials to the Spanish Ministry of Education, undergoing an evaluation to ensure the degree meets Spanish standards, and possibly completing additional exams or coursework. Proficiency in Spanish is also a requirement. The process, which assesses the curriculum, study duration, and clinical training, is essential to approve the degree’s equivalence, allowing the doctor to proceed with the subsequent steps to practice medicine in Spain.

Step 2. Language Proficiency

In becoming a doctor in Spain, a non-EU doctor, the second step involves proving proficiency in Spanish. This is typically done by passing a language test such as the “Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera” (DELE), conducted by the Instituto Cervantes, the Spanish Ministry of Education. The DELE exam assesses reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills in Spanish. Preparing for this test, essential for working in Spanish healthcare settings, can be demanding, especially for those unfamiliar with the language or the Spanish medical education system. The minimum requirement can vary based on where you want to start working; however, B2 is the minimum you are usually asked for.

Step 3. Registration with the Medical Association

Once their qualifications are recognized, the next step for foreign doctors is to register with the local “Colegio de Médicos” (Medical Association) in the region where they intend to work. This registration is a mandatory requirement for all doctors practicing medicine in Spain. It is a form of licensure that ensures the doctor is qualified and authorized to practice. This process also involves compliance with ethical standards and may require proof of qualifications, identity, and sometimes evidence of professional indemnity insurance. The Colegio de Médicos also plays a role in ongoing professional development and maintaining standards of practice.

Step 4. Job Seeking

The third step in becoming a doctor in Spain, a non-EU doctor, is job seeking. This can be approached through online job portals like InfoJobs (www.infojobs.net), Indeed Spain, and Monster Spain, or through recruitment agencies specializing in healthcare such as Michael Page and Adecco. Direct applications to hospitals and health centers are also a viable option. Networking within the Spanish medical community can be beneficial. When applying, it’s crucial to have a well-prepared CV and cover letter in Spanish highlighting your qualifications, experience, and fit for the role, as well as understanding the specifics of the Spanish healthcare system and job requirements.

Step 5. Work Permit and Visa Process

Once you have a job offer in Spain, you’ll need to apply for a Spain work and residence visa, often referred to as a “highly skilled professional” visa, at the Spanish consulate or embassy in your home country. The application process includes submitting various documents, including your employment contract, medical degree, valid passport, a clean criminal record certificate from any country you’ve lived in over the past five years, proof of medical insurance, and evidence of financial stability. Health and criminal background checks are also part of the process.

The processing time for the visa can range from several weeks to months. Once approved, you can collect your visa, which allows entry into Spain, where you must then apply for a foreigner identity card (TIE). This visa requires periodic renewal, which entails proving continuous employment and adherence to visa conditions.

Step 6. Arriving in Spain

Upon arrival in Spain, there are several administrative tasks to complete. Firstly, registering with the local authorities, known as “Empadronamiento,” is necessary to establish residency in a particular municipality. This registration is crucial for accessing services and is a prerequisite for other procedures. The next step is to apply for a Foreigner Identity Card (TIE), which serves as an identification document and proof of legal residence. Additionally, registering with the Spanish Social Security system is necessary to access healthcare and social services and to contribute to the social security system, a requirement for all working residents.

Step 7. Continuing Education

In the field of medicine, continuous education and professional development are crucial. In Spain, like in many other countries, doctors are expected to keep abreast of the latest medical research, techniques, and practices. This may involve attending workshops, seminars, and conferences and, in some cases, undertaking further studies. This commitment to ongoing education not only ensures that doctors provide the best possible care to their patients but is also often a requirement for maintaining their medical license and registration with the Colegio de Médicos.

Can a Foreign Doctor Work in Spain?

Yes, a foreign doctor can work in Spain, but they must first have their medical qualifications recognized, demonstrate Spanish language proficiency, and obtain the necessary work permit and visa. Additionally, registration with the local Medical Association is required.

Is There a Demand for Doctors in Spain?

There is a notable demand for doctors in Spain, particularly in rural areas and in certain specialties such as family medicine, geriatrics, and psychiatry. Like many across Europe, the Spanish healthcare system faces challenges due to an aging population and a shortage of healthcare professionals in specific regions and fields. Factors like urban migration of healthcare workers and the retirement of older doctors have exacerbated this situation. Consequently, opportunities for medical professionals, including non-EU doctors, may be more available in underserved areas or specialties facing a higher demand. However, it’s important for prospective applicants to research current market conditions, as the demand for medical professionals can vary over time and by region.

How Much Does a Doctor Make in Spain?

The salary of a doctor in Spain varies significantly based on factors such as the region, type of practice, years of experience, and medical specialty. On average, a doctor’s salary in Spain ranges from approximately €30,000 to €70,000 per year. Specialists tend to earn on the higher end of this spectrum, while general practitioners often earn towards the lower end. Salaries in urban areas like Madrid and Barcelona are typically higher than in rural areas. However, it’s important to note that the cost of living in different regions of Spain can affect the overall financial well-being of medical professionals. Additionally, salaries in the private sector can differ from those in the public healthcare system.

Infographic How to immigrate and work in Spain as a doctor

Is Spain a Good Place to Work as a Doctor?

Spain is generally considered an excellent place to work as a doctor, offering a high quality of life, a respected healthcare system, and a rich cultural setting. While it provides a balanced work-life environment and opportunities, especially in rural areas and specific specialties, doctors should be mindful of challenges like language barriers, bureaucratic processes for licensing and work permits, and variable salaries based on location and specialty.

Is It Hard to Work as a Doctor in Spain?

Working as a doctor in Spain can be challenging, especially for non-EU doctors, due to bureaucratic processes for licensing, the necessity of Spanish language proficiency, and adapting to different medical protocols and practices. While there is competition for positions, particularly in urban areas, overcoming these hurdles can lead to a rewarding career in a respected healthcare system, coupled with a high quality of life.

Work and Immigrate to Spain as a Doctor: Let’s Recap

In conclusion, immigrating to Spain as a doctor as a non-EU individual is a comprehensive process involving academic preparation, language proficiency, regulatory compliance, and cultural adaptation. It offers a rewarding path in a respected healthcare system, though it requires dedication, time, and financial investment.


Yes, after passing the MIR exam and securing a residency position.

Yes, internships are mandatory in the final years.

Some universities and organizations offer scholarships, but they vary.

Generally, yes, but additional requirements may apply.

Limited programs or courses might be in English, but most are in Spanish.

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  1. Sonia Isegbe says:

    1. Please could I get a precise run down of the steps I need to accomplish as a foreigner who wants to move to Spain, get licensed and practice medicine ?
    2. Is the Medical licensing exams written in Spanish or English ?
    3. How many parts is the examination written in ?

    • Max says:

      Steps for a foreigner to practice medicine in Spain:
      a. Ensure your medical degree is recognized.
      b. Demonstrate proficiency in Spanish.
      c. Obtain the appropriate visa and residence permit.
      d. Prepare for the medical licensing exams.
      e. Take and pass the “Examen MIR” (Medical Intern Resident Exam).

      Language of the Medical Licensing Exams in Spain:
      The medical licensing exams (Examen MIR) in Spain are primarily conducted in Spanish.

      Number of Parts in the Medical Licensing Exam in Spain:
      The exam consists of two parts: Part 1 (Common Trunk Exam) and Part 2 (Specialty Exam).