All foreigners have the same right as Spaniards to emergency medical treatment in public hospitals. EU citizens are entitled to the full range of health-care services in public hospitals, but must present a European Health Insurance Card (enquire at your national health service) and may have to pay up front.
Non-EU citizens have to pay for anything other than emergency treatment. Most travel-insurance policies include medical cover.
For minor health problems you can try any farmàcia (pharmacy), where pharmaceuticals tend to be sold more freely without prescription than in places such as the USA, Australia or the UK.
If your country has a consulate in Barcelona, its staff should be able to refer you to doctors who speak your language.
Hospitals include the following:
- Hospital Clínic i Provincial (93 227 54 00; Carrer de Villarroel 170; Hospital Clínic)
- Hospital de la Santa Creu i de Sant Pau (93 291 90 00; Carrer de Sant Antoni Maria Claret 167; Hospital de Sant Pau)
- Hospital Dos de Maig (93 507 27 00; Carrer del Dos de Maig 301; Hospital de Sant Pau)
Some 24-hour pharmacies follow:
- Farmàcia Álvarez (93 302 11 24; Passeig de Gràcia 26)
- Farmàcia Clapés (93 301 28 43; La Rambla 98)
- Farmàcia Torres (93 453 92 20; www.farmaciaabierta24h.com, in Spanish; Carrer d’Aribau 62)
Banks abound in Barcelona, many with ATMs, including several around Plaça de Catalunya, on La Rambla and on Plaça de Sant Jaume in the Barri Gòtic.
The foreign-exchange offices that you see along La Rambla and elsewhere are open for longer hours than banks but generally offer poorer rates. Interchange (Amex; tel: 93 342 73 11; La Rambla dels Caputxins 74; 9am-10.30pm) represents American Express and will cash Amex travellers cheques, replace lost cheques and provide cash advances on Amex cards.
You can change cash or travellers’ cheques in most major currencies without problems at virtually any bank or bureau de change (usually indicated by the word canvi/cambio).
Barcelona abounds with banks, many with ATMs, including several around Plaça de Catalunya and more on La Rambla and Plaça de Sant Jaume in the Barri Gòtic.
Interchange (93 342 73 11; Rambla dels Caputxins 74; 9am-10.30pm; Liceu) represents American Express and will cash Amex travellers’ cheques, replace lost cheques and provide cash advances on Amex cards.
Major cards such as Visa, MasterCard, Maestro and Cirrus are accepted throughout Spain. They can be used in many hotels, restaurants and shops. Credit cards can also be used in ATMs displaying the appropriate sign. Check charges with your bank. If your card is lost, stolen or swallowed by an ATM, you can telephone toll free to immediately stop its use:
- Amex (900 994426)
- Diners Club (901 101011)
- MasterCard (900 971231)
- Visa (900 991124)
Taxes & refunds:
Value-added tax, or VAT, is otherwise known as IVA (impuesto sobre el valor añadido, pronounced ‘EE-ba’). IVA is 7% on accommodation and restaurant prices and is usually – but not always – included in quoted prices. On retail goods the IVA is 16%. IVA-free shopping is available in duty-free shops at all airports for people travelling between EU countries.
Non-EU residents are entitled to a refund of the 16% IVA on purchases costing more than €90.15 from any shop, if the goods are taken out of the EU within three months. Ask the shop for a Cashback (or similar) refund form showing the price and IVA paid for each item and identifying the vendor and purchaser. Then present the form at the customs booth for IVA refunds when you depart from Spain (or elsewhere in the EU). You will need your passport and a boarding card that shows you are leaving the EU, and your luggage (so do this before checking in bags). The officer will stamp the invoice and you hand it in at a bank at the departure point to receive a reimbursement.
At Barcelona airport look for the customs booth directly opposite the bar on the ground floor of Terminal A (by the arrivals doors).The Airport branches of La Caixa and BBVA banks (both about 50m to the right of the customs window) will deal with Cashback refunds (7am to 11pm daily). Otherwise you can use the envelope provided to have the tax paid back to your credit card or by cheque. For more information, check out the Euro Refund website (www.eurorefund.com).