Relocation guide for expats in Spain

S'expatrier en Espagne - Valencia

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Are you planning to move to Spain but don’t know where to start? This article is for you as we detail the various administrative formalities for expats relocating to Spain.


1. Moving to Spain

If you are looking for sunnier weather, a more relaxed and balanced life, and a cheaper cost of living, Spain can be the perfect destination for you. Many expats have already decided to relocate to this Southern country to enjoy a better quality of life. To learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of choosing Spain, we invite you to consult our article 8 great reasons to move to Spain. 

However, a relocation can be stressful and time consuming as it oftens means a new culture, a new language and especially a new administration. Below is a guide with the essential formalities to carry out in Spain. 

Contact us for assistance in your relocation and we will help you to move and live in Spain easily. 


2. Administrative procedures

A- Get your NIE

The most useful document for expats in Spain is the NIE (Foreign Identification Number). This number is required to undertake any type of professional, financial or social activity. Here are some of the examples for which you will need a NIE:

  • Be legally employed
  • Be self-employed
  • Open a bank account
  • Buy or sell a property
  • Buy or sell a vehicle
  • Access social security
  • Pay taxes
  • Purchase an insurance

Learn more on the NIE and how to get it.


B- Obtain your certificate of ciudadano de la Unión or TIE 

If you are going to reside in Spain for more than 3 months within a period of 6 months, you will be considered as a Spanish resident and you shall obtain a residence permit:

  • If you are a citizen of a member state of the European Union or of European Economic Spain, you can travel and live freely in the Schengen area for 3 months. After that, you will need to register with the local authorities and get the Certificado de registro de ciudadano de la Unión.
  • If you are a citizen. from any other country, you are likely to need a Visa to come to Spain. Within one month of entering Spain, you shall apply for the TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero).

These documents can only be obtained in Spain and are required for any administrative process as a Spanish resident (loan application, unemployment benefit application, tax declaration).


C- Empadronamiento

The Padrón Municipal is the municipal register that brings together all the residents of a municipality. Empadronarse corresponds to the act of registering on this register.

This is an essential and mandatory step for anyone wishing to reside in Spain.

In addition to inform the town hall of your main residence, it is required for a number of procedures : 

  • Enroll your children in school
  • Register for social security
  • Have access to the public health system
  • Apply for the regularization of a residence or work permit
  • Certify your driving license in Spain (for residents of countries with an agreement with Spain)
  • Have access to municipal services

Learn more about the empadronamiento


D- Affiliation to the social security scheme and get access to the public health system

Once the above documents have been obtained, you can apply for a Spanish social security number

As a general rule, a person shall reside and pay contributions in Spain to be entitled to benefits and to have access to the public health system. For retirees and expats, you can request the transfer of your local social security rights to Spain.

Next step is then to get your Tarjeta Sanitaria to access the Spanish public health system. We explain how in this article.

Note that it is also possible to opt for private medical insurance in Spain.


3. Other formalities

A- Opening a bank account

Opening a bank account in Spain is one of the first steps to do when you move to Spain. This is a fairly simple process that is useful both for paying your rent or purchasing a house and for paying local bills. Banks in Spain offer financial products and services similar to the rest of Europe, apart from generally higher bank charges.

The documentation required to open a bank account may differ from one entity to another . In general, for a resident account, you will need:

  • An identity document (passport, identity card)
  • Your NIE
  • Your Certificado de registro de ciudadano de la Unión or TIE
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of your professional status

If you spend less than 183 days a year in Spain, you also have the option of opening a “non-resident” bank account.


B- Home research

Whether you are looking to rent or buy in Spain, finding your new home is one of the most important steps of the relocation.

One of the preferred options for finding accommodation is to scan the ads on the web and send dozens of emails to choose a place that we have not visited (yes we have all been there!).

However, did you know that there are relocation agencies with english speaking property hunters acting in your best interest ? After discussing your project and assessing its feasibility, the property hunter will start looking for the ideal property and organize viewings (either virtually or in person) to present the best available properties on the market. This allows you to avoid unpleasant surprises, to delegate your research and to save time.

If you are looking for your new accommodation in the province of Valencia, do not hesitate to contact us for more information on our services.


C- School research

If you move to Spain with children, you need to think about how to enroll them at school. In Spain, it is possible to choose between a public school, a semi-private school (concertada) or a private school. Each of these has its own advantages and disadvantages. To know more about education in Spain, you can consult our article

If you are interested in enrolling them in an international school (such as the Lycée Français or the British college), you have to note that they are private schools with tuition fees.

For public schools, the process is quite long and the selection is made according to a scale established by the Valencian Community (proximity to the establishment, large family, income, etc.).

For private schools, the admission criteria differ from a school to another and you will need to inquire directly with these establishments.

Be careful not to miss the registration windows regardless of the type of school chosen.


Do you have a relocation project in Valencia? Come talk to us 🙂


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