Many of our clients ask for information and advice on what they should do and expect when moving to Spain. We have compiled a wealth of information on this subject to help everyone that is looking to move to Spain with information, facts and ideas on how to move to Spain and what to do once you get there.
Moving to Spain after brexit is another frequently asked question and the current information we have available on this subject is detailed below by scrolling down.
We have a wealth of information and advice on moving to Spain from UK and a quick scroll down on this page will tell you just about everything you need to know for your move to Spain from UK or any other location in Europe.
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As an EU national, you are entitled to live in Spain for over 3 months if:
In all of these cases, you must still register with the Central Register of Foreign Nationals (Registro Central de Extranjeros), no later than 3
months after arriving in Spain.
Registering with the Central Register
You can d o this in one of 2 places:
What you need to take
You have always to attach the following documents:
In addition, you will have to attach other documents, depending on your situation:
If you own property in Spain, or live in Spain as a resident, you are going to need an N.I.E. number. This section explains what an NIE number is, why you need one, and how to get one, either in or outside of Spain.
Spanish NIE Number Guide
This guide is about Spanish NIE numbers for the purpose of buying property in Spain. If you need an NIE number for another purpose, for example to work in Spain, the process might be different. The rules, or the application of the rules, can vary from place to place, and can change without warning. As a result, this guide can be temporarily out of date from time to time.
What is an N.I.E Number?
N.I.E. is an abbreviation for Número de Identidad de Extranjero, which translates as Identification Number for Foreigners.
The NIE is your all-purpose identification and tax number in Spain. You need it for everything that involves a tramite or official process in Spain. You will need an NIE number to buy a property, buy a car, get connected to the utilities and, most importantly as far as the Spanish state is concerned, pay your taxes. Without an NIE number, the Spanish tax authorities are unable to assess or process annual tax payments such as income tax (IRPF), and the annual wealth tax (Patrimonio), both of which are declared by resident and non-resident property owners.
NIE number certificates were being issued with a 3-month validity from the time of issue, after which you were expected to apply for residency, or register as a non-resident. So after three months the certificate was no longer valid, at least in principle. However, in mid-2016 the regulation was changed to eliminate the three-month expiry deadline, so NIE numbers are now valid indefinitely. But this is Spain and the bureaucracy is a bit of a mess, and regulations are not uniformly implemented or even understood. You may find that some notaries refuse to accept a certificate that is older than three months, which could cause problems for property buyers trying to sign deeds more than three months after obtaining their NIE certificate. In principle you can get your NIE number anytime before you buy, but to be on the safe side you might want to sort out your NIE number on your last trip to Spain, when you find a property you want to buy and can complete within three months.
If you are an EU citizen and spend longer than 3 months in Spain after getting your NIE number, you are required to register and get a government certificate that shows your NIE number.
If you are buying property in Spain, then you need to have an NIE number by the time you sign the deeds of purchase before notary, an event known in Spanish as the escritura.
Getting your NIE number in time for escritura means applying at least 1 month before hand if you are applying in Spain, and at least 2 months before hand if you are applying via a consulate abroad. The actual time it takes depends upon where you apply, and the time of the year. You might be able to get an NIE number in person in Spain in a couple of days, but it could also take weeks, so best allow yourself plenty of time.
The first thing to understand is that dealing with the Spanish bureaucracy is often a perplexing, not to mention frustrating affair. The way they interpret the regulations in Andalusia might differ from the way they interpret the same rules in Catalonia. In one area, for example Barcelona, you need to book an appointment online in advance to request your NIE number, then spend hours waiting in a queue, whilst in other areas you can just turn up and get everything done in half an hour. I have confirmed for myself that the rules are inconsistently applied, which makes it difficult to prepare a guide to NIE numbers.
So keeping in mind that the process and interpretation of requirements might be different depending on how and where you apply for an NIE number, here is a general guide that explains the official requirements and the process as it should work (but might not)
There are three ways to apply for a Spanish NIE number:
Applying in person for an NIE number whilst in Spain is a relatively straightforward procedure. The only inconvenience is that you may have to wait for several hours in a queue in order to submit your application at a Spanish police station. It does depend upon the police station where you apply, and the time of day. With a bit of luck you will be in and out in half an hour or less. If you do not speak good Spanish, you will need to take a translator with you, as they will not be able to provide one there.
The process is as follows:
1) Prepare the necessary documentation:
2) Take all documentation in person to the appropriate place of submission.
You have to go to one of the immigration offices (oficinas de extranjeros) that are usually found in designated police stations (comisaría de policía), preferably in the area where you are buying your property. If there is no immigration office in your area then it should be possible to make your application through a local police station. In any event the local police station will be able to tell you the best place to go to apply for an NIE in your area.
In Barcelona, and some other places, you have to request an appointment online using the “Certificados EU” (for EU nationals) option at the Public Administration website. You might have to book an appointment a month in advance – you can’t just turn up
You will have to pay a tax of around €10.00 at the nearest bank branch after making your application, then take proof of this payment (the stamped receipt from the bank) back to the Oficina de Extranjeros. That completes the application process.
3) Collect NIE number immediately or after a few days
After you have submitted your NIE application you will be given an official receipt (resguardo) and a time / date after which you can return to collect your NIE document. In some places you can collect your NIE number immediately, in other places it might be a couple of days later, or a couple of weeks – the police station will tell you. The time it takes varies by region and time of the year. Generally speaking it seems that places where there are not many foreigners requesting NIE numbers deliver quicker, in some cases immediately.
You do not have to collect your NIE in person – anyone can collect it for you if they have the official receipt or resguardo you were given when you submitted your application.
The time it takes to get an NIE varies greatly by region. Whilst it is still common in most areas to wait 15 days or more before collecting an NIE, in some areas, for instance Oviedo, in Asturias, (North Spain), you can apply for, and collect, an NIE in one single visit, which might not take longer than half an hour.
You can also apply for an NIE from Spanish consulates around the world if you do not have the time to apply whilst you are in Spain. You can find more information about this on the Spanish Consulate website (London).
The process is as follows:
1) Prepare the necessary documentation:
It also used to be necessary to take the following:
2) Take all documentation in person to your nearest Spanish Consulate.
You have to go in person with all the relevant documentation to your nearest Spanish consulate. The Spanish Consulate cannot issue NIE numbers; it only acts as a “postal box” between the applicant and the competent authorities in Spain. Once you have submitted your application through the Consulate they will not be able to provide you with any further information on the status of your application. For any further information or enquires as to the status of your application you should write to the address given above for the Comisaría General de Extranjería y Documentación.
3) Await notification from the Spanish authorities
If all goes well you should receive your NIE number in pdf format by email within 2/3 weeks.
The Spanish Government now permits foreigners to authorise a third party to obtain an NIE number on their behalf, however it needs to be a legal representative such as a lawyer, or a professional company.
As a result, you can now authorise someone to get your NIE number for you in Spain. Once authorised they take care of the whole process for you. There are numerous companies now offering this service. To do this you need to:
If you go to a notary outside of Spain, the documentation will also need the Hague Apostille (but not if you go to the Spanish embassy or consulate).
British Notary Publics are generally solicitors and practise in solicitors’ firms. I recommend you telephone one or two solicitors’ firms in your area and enquire as to whether they have a Notary Public or, advise you as to where the nearest one practices.
Be sure to take your original passports to the Notary appointment.
What is an Empadronamiento?
Empadronamiento is perhaps the first important thing you have to do when you move to Spain. It adds your name and address into the register of the city you’re living in, and is a prerequisite for many administrative processes such as getting a social security number, public health care and even residency and marriage.
Getting empradonado in Spain is a must for anyone living here long-term, and it’s also very easy to do!
Empadronamiento is the act of letting the city know where you live. To do so, you need to fill out a form and hand it over to the City Hall’s citizen register — Oficina de empadronamiento or Padrón Municipal. It’s mandatory and very useful if you want to stay in Spain for good.
Once you are empadronado, there are two different documents that show where you live in: Certificado and Volante. Since both documents have the same information, what’s the difference between them? First, it’s how you get them. Second, what they are use for. It’s very important to check this when you are asked for it in future encounters with Spanish bureaucracy.
Certificado is the official document and proves where you live. The easiest way to get a certificado is by going to one of the city hall offices. Mainly, you will be asked for it in:
Volante has informative purposes and doesn’t prove where you live. Official institutions ask for it when the certificado is not required expressly. To get your volante, you only need to allow the administration to check your address in “El Padrón Municipal”.
1.Application form or hoja de empadronamiento
2. Go to one of the offices
Before you get empadronado you obviously will need to find a place to live,
Healthcare in Spain
The rules for getting state healthcare in Spain are different from those in the UK. This guide is intended to advise British nationals living, or planning to live, in Spain on the different ways to access healthcare.
If you are registered to work in Spain and make National Insurance contributions then you can get state-run health care on the same basis as a Spanish national. For further information, get in touch with your local TGSS office.
If you registered as a permanent resident in Spain and are not covered for healthcare though any other means, speak to your local INSS office to register for healthcare in Spain. Permanent residents have been registered as residents with extranjería for at least five years.
If you are in receipt of a UK old age state pension, request an S1 form (previously E121) from the Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 191 218 1999. If you are in receipt of an exportable DWP benefit you can request an S1 form the office which pays your exportable benefit.
It is your responsibility to keep the Overseas Healthcare Team or office which pays your exportable DWP benefit up to date with any changes in circumstances which may affect your entitlement to an S1 (E121). When received, register the S1 form with your local INSS office, before you register with your local GP surgery and obtain a medical card..
As from the 1 July 2014, early retirees are no longer able to apply for a residual S1 form based on National Insurance contributions. The NHS website has more information about this change.
If you are a worker seconded to Spain, or the family member of a someone making UK National Insurance contributions, contact HMRC to see if you have entitlement to an S1 form (previously an E106 or E109). Once issued, register the S1 form with your local INSS office, before you register with your local GP surgery.
If you are coming to study or are currently studying in Spain as part of a UK-recognised course, you may be entitled to healthcare paid for by the UK.
In Spain access to healthcare by children and pregnant women is protected by law. Please see the social worker at your local health centre for more details.
Purchasing public health insurance
If you are not covered for state-run healthcare through any other means, the Spanish regional health authorities offer a special pay-in scheme (convenio especial). This is a public health insurance scheme available nationwide where you pay a monthly fee to access state-run healthcare. The scheme is managed by each autonomous region.
Policy holders pay on an individual basis for access to public healthcare, regardless of pre-existing conditions, anywhere in Spain. Children will also need to join the scheme, as long as their parents have sufficient income to be able to pay their subscription. If you have any doubt about your means to pay for your children to join the scheme, you must make an appointment with the social worker at your local health centre.
The basic monthly fee is 60€ for the under 65s and 157€ for those aged 65 and above. However, prescriptions are not subsidised at this rate so you would pay 100% of prescription costs. This form of cover doesn’t give holders the right to an EHIC at this time, so if you wish to travel, you will need to take out private travel insurance. The scheme is now available in:
If you need to receive oxygen therapy during a temporary visit to Spain, you must request it in advance, in writing, from the Spanish authorities. You should send this request at least one month before you are due to travel.
Oxygen therapy needs to be arranged by customers directly with the Spanish authorities. The Healthcare Teams at the British consulates provide a list of contacts and a template letter in Spanish on the Healthcare in Spain website to help you make these arrangements.
Once you have sent the oxygen request directly to the Spanish authorities, it is your responsibility to then follow up with the relevant oxygen provider to confirm your request has been processed.
Spain uses a co-payment system where residents are required to pay a percentage of the cost of their prescription medication. If you are a pensioner and have paid more than you should have for prescription medication, speak with your pharmacists or local health centre to confirm the process in your region to claim a refund.
The table below provides an approximate basic overview of what residents are required to contribute:
% of contribution
Less than €18,000
Between €18,000 and €100,000
Driving in Spain and changing your license.
If you have a UK photo card driving license dating from 1997 or after (or full UK licence dating from 1990) it will be sufficient to allow you to drive legally in Spain. However, when it expires, or if it gets lost or stolen, you will not be able to renew it with the DVLA if you are now permanently resident in Spain.
you will need to organise converting your UK license to a legal Spanish document that complies with Spanish driving laws :
In Spain the legal minimum age to drive is 18 years, and you must be able to prove Resident status, so you will need your 'Residencia' before you apply for your ‘carnet de permiso de conducción’. However, assuming that you have recently moved to Spain, the procedure of applying for a Spanish license is voluntary for members of the European Union including the UK, and can be completed at your local Traffic office or Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico.
You can carry out this procedure yourself at the Dirección General de Trafico website. Go to www.dgt.es online to obtain the application form or ‘solicitud’. You will be asked to select the province where you reside in order to find the relevant traffic office closest to you.
All EU countries (including the UK) are now obliged to conform to the new style photo card license which must carry a photo likeness and the permanent home address of the holder. This is because if you are involved in an accident your next of kin can be informed and the holder of that license can be traced regarding any driving offences, fines or points bans. In Spain you must carry this card on you at all times, as you will receive a fine if you cannot present it when asked.
Resident permanently in Spain or not?
If you own a British or non-Spanish registered vehicle, remember you have six months in which to ‘import’ and re-register the vehicle with Spanish number plates. You can drive happily and use your UK registered car here meanwhile, as long as you abide by all the usual Spanish driving laws and have all the relevant documentation with you (MOT, tax, insurance, driving license), even if you do not have permanent resident status.
Even if you are non-resident but plan to buy a Spanish registered vehicle, this is an option. The car or van must still carry valid ITV, tax and insurance papers. There have been reports about non-residents being stopped by the Traffic Police and fined for not having a Spanish driving licence. It is impossible to obtain a Spanish licence without your ‘residencia’, and the problem arises because police occasionally assume residency when they see a Spanish registration plate. It is acceptable to explain that you are not a resident of Spain, but spend periods of time here throughout the year. If you have difficulty with the Spanish language, you can obtain a Certificate of Non-Residence, and carry this with your car papers to avoid any concern.
Generally, as with most legal issues, it is easier to comply and adopt local rules when living in that particular country. A full Spanish driving licence is valid for 10 years between the ages of 18 and 45; between the ages of 45 and 70 it remains 5 years; and beyond 70 years old the validity period remains 2 years.
You 'should' receive a letter advising you of the need for renewal as long as your address details are current, but equally so should not rely on this being sent out as a reminder to you to renew your license.
To renew your Spanish driving licence you will need to present all your documents at your nearest ‘Jefatura de Trafico’ at least 3 months before the old licence expires, including a new ‘solicitud’ which can be downloaded, your old licence, your residencia, NIE and ‘empadromiento’ (proof of address from town hall) three photographs, and a Certificate of Aptitude from an Authorised Drivers Check Centre (Centro de Reconocimiento de Conductores Autorizado) in your province.
The medical examination is carried out in designated clinics and will include eyesight, hearing, pulse and blood pressure tests, and tests for speed of reaction, judgement of the speed of other vehicles and acuteness of visual identification. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, you’re tested with them and your license with be marked to indicate this (remember, you must carry a spare pair when driving). The medical certificate is valid for 90 days, to enable you to make your application for a license.
These Spanish driving regulations are broadly similar to the rest of Europe under EU law and ensure that drivers are safe, healthy and competent along with the roadworthiness and insured status of the vehicle. So it also makes sense to use a Spanish driving license where the local traffic police will be expecting one.
Finances in Spain
Once you have made the decision to move to Spain there are a number of factors to consider concerning your financial requirements, especially if your residential status has, or is about to change.
Understandably, many expats are reluctant to burn their bridges completely with the UK and choose to retain a sterling account in the UK - but is this permitted within the terms and conditions of your existing account ? If you move to Spain on a permanent basis and become legally resident, it may be that you need to review your requirements. Certainly, if you try to open a new account in the UK online, you are asked to confirm your residential status.
Instead you may opt to bank with a trusted and respected UK Bank who provides clients with the option to operate either a Sterling or Euro Bank Account for such eventualities. Quite often such accounts offer associated services such as life or health insurance, together with a range of flexible banking solutions. If you will be making regular international to and from your sterling account it is always recommended that you ask for a detailed list of charges so you can be aware of the true cost of transferring money to and from Spain.
Another consideration is to search for a Spanish Bank to take care of your Euro's. The day to day living costs such as utility bills, rent or mortgage payments and phone bills all generally require a Bank account with which to take a direct debit payment from, and unless you live close to a branch and speak a good standard of Spanish, it is a good idea to check that your chosen bank provides internet banking - in the English language. This way you can keep a close eye on your finances and see the charges that are applicable to sending or receiving money from overseas. This can be particularly useful as many utility companies in Spain can often have an annoying habit of taking irregular payments from your account without sending you prior notification.
Although many Banks - in both the UK and Spain - offer a range of associated financial services and products, such as: Life, Travel or Health Insurance ; Mortgages ; Lifetime Loans & Equity Release ; Personal Secured Loans ; Currency Exchange etc...
Whether you are resident or Non-resident, an employee or self employed, a property owner or a tenant, the Taxes that could apply to you can often be overwhelming. Sometimes even the departments applying these taxes do not seem to understand the laws themselves, and the regulations seem to change almost as soon as they are put in place.
The Tax system in Spain is very different to the UK and in many cases you can incur fines for non-payment or late payment of any taxes that you should have paid. Worse still, it is surprising how many foreigners end up paying more tax than they should!
In order to take the headache and the hassle away from you, we recommend that you leave this with the experts. They simply look after Tax issues, that’s all, and that’s why they can dedicate so much time and resources to understanding the Spanish Tax system and to keep on top of and react to any changes that may affect you.
Anybody sending small but regular payments back to or from the UK will know that the Bank Charges applicable and the daily exchange rate can vary considerably each and every time that you make a transaction. This not only eats into the sum to be transferred, and carries its own procedural difficulties, but can leave you in the dark somewhat and be a hassle every time you have to nip into your local branch and stand in line to explain your requirements in detail each and every time you wish to make a payment.
A Money Transfer specialist differs from a Bank and a Currency Exchange Broker because they specialise in moving small and regular sums of Money between countries - as opposed to transferring larger sums with a Minimum Payment that can be into the Thousands, a Money Transfer specialist can accommodate your requirements for as little as a few Hundred Euros/Sterling.
How to become Self Employed in Spain
Going self employed definitely comes with its pros and cons. But if you’re set on making the jump to registering as an autónomo, here are some pointers on how to go about it.
Although you could do the process online, you will find it less complicated to go to Hacienda’s office. Once you are there, the civil servant will fill out paperwork for you and it doesn’t take more than 15 minutes to finish the process .
There are two simple steps to become an autónomo in Hacienda: Getting an appointment (Cita Previa) and signing up for IAE.
Signing up for IAE used to be a tedious task. Today, but it’s surprisingly fast now to be honest. You just need to show up with your ID and tell the civil servant that you want to become an autónomo. During this step, you are letting Hacienda know that you would like to register as a freelancer by filling out Modelo 036 / 037.
The funcionario or civil servant will ask you two questions: when you would like to start your activity and what service you are going to offer. Then, he or she will provide you with an “Activity Code” (each profession has a category or code). If your Spanish is good enough, we suggest asking for specific information regarding your activity—IVA, specific retention, etc.
Here are the documents you must bring:
This will allow you to interact with Hacienda (pay taxes).
Last step — registering at Seguridad Social — isn’t as easier as it is with Hacienda. But not to worry; when it comes to getting paid, Spain is highly efficient.
By becoming autónomo in the Seguridad Social and starting to cotizar (‘to pay for social security’ in English), you will be covered by Social Security and you have access to the public health system.
and now you are a self employed in Spain!
Pensions in Spain
Many people understand that the UK is in the EU (for now at least) and therefore when you retire, it should be simple to understand how you claim your State and personal pensions. The main questions people have are what pension will you receive, how will you receive this, where should you be paying your taxes and how when retired, can you receive your pension in Euros and what could happen if you don’t have this organised correctly?
Over the last few years this has changed and, as of now, works in the following way.
If you have never worked in Spain, but you are retiring here, having never paid Spanish taxes you will receive the UK State pension by contacting the HMRC at www.gov.uk/check-state-pension
How the State Pension works www.gove.uk/state-pension
How the new state pension will work www.gove.uk/new-state-pension
How to claim your state pension online www.gov.uk/claim-state-pension-online
Early retirement and State Pension www.gov.uk/early-state-pension
You will be able to find out exactly what you will be entitled to and how it works. UK State pensions are always paid gross and never taxed, it is your duty to report this in your annual earnings whichever country you are resident in and along with your income, pay the relevant tax. State pension does come under the tax bracket as income tax. www.gov.uk/tax-uk-income-live-abroad
You can choose to have your UK State pension paid into a UK bank account in sterling, or into a Spanish account in Euros at the rate of exchange that day (i.e. almost no costs for doing this).
If you have a private or company pension scheme in the UK, you should register on the following link and make sure this is also paid gross to you: www.gov.uk/government/publications/double-taxation-united-kingdom-si-1976-number-1919-form-spain-individual
Then, you should be declaring this income in your annual tax return here in Spain (Declaracion De La Renta) and pay the relevant taxes, it’s advisable to find a good Gestor (accountant) to guide you.
A word of note here, unlike in the UK where your accountant/tax advisor is accountable for the advice they give you, here in Spain YOU are liable, even if the advice you are given is wrong, so it is worth asking around and finding a Gestor that has a good reputation.
In this scenario, as the UK is part of the EU, you should approach the local tax office in Spain and inform them of your situation. They in turn, would then contact the other countries you have worked in and where you paid tax and National Insurance contributions. This would then be paid to you by them directly as they collect from the relevant countries.
Different countries have different ages that they start paying your State pension from, so you need to bear that in mind.
What if you are or planning to be a resident here in Spain, but collect your UK state and private pension directly from the UK and do not declare here and in essence pay no taxes here? Surely, as the UK and Spain have a Double Tax Treaty (DDT, which means that you will not pay tax twice on any income you receive) as long as you are paying tax somewhere it’s not a problem? Well, consider that you are living in Spain as a resident, using their services, taking advantage of the healthcare and all the other things that make living here so enjoyable. Yet, you are paying UK taxes even though you are not living there. As you can see this doesn’t seem right! And it isn’t! Therefore, if you are found declaring your income incorrectly, it could result in you being fined, maybe even substantially. What is more, there is usually a minimal difference in the tax you might pay, whether it be in the UK or here, depending on your situation and income.
Also, give the fact that WILLS have now changed as of last August, meaning in essence you can choose which jurisdiction (country, laws) your estate would apply to, there seems little reason to risk this and not declare and pay your taxes as they should be. It would certainly stop a nasty knock at the door at some point down the road, especially as of next year when Common Reporting Standards come into rule (CRS – where countries around the world will be sharing information on the finances of their passport holders) meaning it’s even more likely you could be ‘found out’. Please note, this does not change where you are taxed for succession issues.
Therefore, we recommend making sure you are doing things properly, whether this involves you declaring this yourself or through a Gestor, as well as making sure your WILL is up to date.
The most straightforward situation is where the testator has drawn-up a will in Spain and in accordance with the legal provisions for creating a valid will.
Making a will in Spain to cover your Spanish assets is a sensible action that will save time, money and stress for your heirs. The procedure is as follows:
Creating a Spanish will greatly simplify matters though there still remains a series of actions that need to be carried out in order to have an estate’s assets distributed correctly.
It is not advisable to try to do so without the assistance of a qualified expert in inheritance matters in Spain.
If the testator died outside Spain then a death certificate must be obtained from the relevant authority in that state.
Please note that if the Death Certificate is not written in Spanish then it must be translated and legalised i.e have the Apostille stamp attached. It can then be used as an equivalent to the Spanish ‘Certificado de Defunción’.
It will be necessary to wait for a period of 15 days from the date when death occurred before ordering the certificate. If ordering the certificate then there is an administrative charge that requires completing form 790. It will be necessary to send an original (not a copy) of the death certificate and it normally takes around 10 days to receive the certificate.
If however, as is more likely, the life insurance was taken out in a country of origin such as the UK or Ireland then the insurance company will have their own process.
This will typically involve sending an original (not a copy) of the death certificate and completing whatever form the insurance company uses.