Barcelona at a Glance
Moving to BarcelonaiStockphoto
Barcelona is rightly proud of its artistic tradition.
Barcelona is probably the most cosmopolitan and most exciting city in Spain. The bars, restaurants, and museums, as well as the busy seaside, are definitely a reason for moving to Barcelona. However, the city also impresses expats with its history and tradition, an aspect the locals are particularly proud of.
Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, is located in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula. With about 1.6 million inhabitants, Barcelona is also the second biggest city in Spain, right after Madrid. It is considered Europe’s largest urban center on the Mediterranean Sea, enveloped by the rivers Llobregat and Besòs.
You will discover different small hill tops around Barcelona which lend their names to the neighborhoods that have developed on them. Montjuic, for instance, offers an exquisite view of the harbor and is home to a fortress and several cultural venues. Expats moving to Barcelona benefit from its close proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, where the water is warm and the weather is balmy almost all year round. On the other side of the city, in the west, you will find the Collserola ridge with vast woodlands, meadows, and fields.
Politics and Language
Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and, due to Catalonia’s political autonomy within Spain, has an important status within the region. Catalonia is ruled by the Generalitat which has its seat in Barcelona. The first version of this autonomous government dates back to medieval times when the Diputació General de Catalunya was in power. Due to the Catalan Statute of Autonomy, Barcelona’s city government enjoys a high amount of decision-making authority.
Castilian, Spain’s official language, is not the only language spoken in Barcelona. Instead, Catalan is the second official language and it is widely used in the city and the rest of Catalonia. In fact, both languages are often used interchangeably. Catalonians are not obligated to fall back on Spanish, even for official purposes. For expats moving to Barcelona, this poses an entirely new language barrier which is not easily overcome.
Acquiring an Identity Number in Barcelona
EU- and non-EU nationals are subject to different requirements and restrictions. EU/EEA citizens simply need a valid passport or ID. For a stay exceeding three months, an NIE (Número de Indentificación de Extranjeros), an identity number for foreigners, is required as well. You will need this number to rent or buy property, open a bank account, or simply work in Barcelona.
There are many Departments of Foreigners (Oficina de Extranjeros) in Barcelona which handle all bureaucratic issues of expats and other foreigners moving to Barcelona. In order to apply for an NIE, you need to submit the following documents at the responsible office:
- original application form
- your passport
- your current address
- your reason for moving to Barcelona