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Moving to Spain

A Comprehensive Guide on Relocating to Spain

Wondering what the steps are to move to Spain? No matter whether you prefer city life, countryside, beach towns, or somewhere in the mountains, Spain has a dream spot for everyone. Find out everything you need to know about the requirements to move to Spain. Did you know that as a highly skilled worker in Spain, you may be eligible for the European Blue Card?

Are you wondering how to move to sunny Spain and how hard it really is? This will depend on your specific circumstances and where you originally come from. EU nationals, or people with a permanent residency in an EU member country, will find the process of moving to Spain fairly easy.

This does not mean that people from outside of the EU should feel discouraged. If living in the country of churros, tapas and tinto de verano is your dream, this guide will provide you with all the things you need to know when moving to Spain; from how to obtain a visa, to navigating the housing market, finding good schools, opening up a bank account, and filing a tax return.

It’s not surprising that Spain is an expat favorite. There is more to it than the sunny weather, wide beaches, and good food. The work-life balance and general quality of life are just a few of the benefits of moving to in Spain. Spaniards have very clear priorities, family, friends, socializing, and relaxing come first. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), full-time workers spend around 65 percent of their day on personal care and leisure. The relaxed work culture, excellent international schools, and free quality public healthcare are just a few perks of this incredible southern European country. Read on to find out more about Spain and why moving there will improve your quality of life.



The process of moving to Spain can be stress-free if you follow the procedures. You will have many alternatives to ship your household goods to Spain. The Iberian country is one of the best transport hubs in the world due to its convenient geographical location. Whether you plan to ship your belongings by air freight, train, sea, or by land, you should be well covered with many options to choose from.

Upon arrival, your belongings will have to go through Spanish customs, either at the harbor or at the airport. If you have nothing to declare, this process is easy, but if you are carrying any items that are forbidden or restricted by customs, you will need to declare them. For instance, if you have medication that falls under the controlled drugs category established by Spanish customs, you will need to apply for an import license at the Spanish consulate of your origin country. As a general rule, make sure you only bring items within the allowed quantities, and bring all the necessary permits to avoid setbacks at the border. Be aware that quantities differ significantly depending on whether you come from a country outside or inside the EU.

Moving to Spain with pets is fairly simple. There are not many vaccinations required. All animals need to show proof of a recent rabies shot, no matter where you are coming from. As dogs, cats, and ferrets under three months of age are not vaccinated against rabies, they are not allowed to enter the country, so keep that in mind when you plan your move.

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Visas & Work Permits

Wondering how to get a visa and work permit for Spain? This section covers everything you need to know about the visa application process and the requirements for moving to Spain.

As an EU citizen, you can travel and live freely within the Schengen territory for three months. After that time, you will need to register with the local authorities. As a citizen of a non-EU country, the process is more complicated. To enter Spain, you will need a short-term Schengen visa that is valid for 90 days in a 180-day period. If you plan to stay longer, you will need to apply simultaneously for a long-term visa.

To apply for a Spanish visa, you will need to meet some requirements such as a proof of sufficient financial funds, a clean criminal record, and an overall good health certificate. As a highly skilled worker, you may even be issued the European Blue Card, which is equivalent to the Green Card in the United States. Purchasing a property worth over 500,000 EUR (590,000 USD) in Spain will also grant you a visa for two years, which you will then have to renew every five years.

Visa costs vary depending on your nationality, as well as the type of visa you apply for. Generally speaking, US and Canadian citizens have the highest visa costs, with prices ranging from 100 to 1000 EUR (120-1180 USD) depending on the visa type. Other nationalities pay less, with costs ranging from 70 to 150 EUR (82-177 USD). You can read everything you need to know about visa types and work permit requirements in this section of our Spain Guide.

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Renting accommodation in Spain can be tricky. The rental housing market requires you to jump through many bureaucratic hoops. Interestingly, buying a property as a foreigner might even be simpler than renting. In this section, we will cover all aspects of how to rent or buy a house in Spain as a foreigner; from property prices to tenancy rights, average rent, house prices, and utilities in Spain.

The good news is that, in Spain, there are no restrictions on property ownership for foreigners. Buying a house worth over 500,000 EUR (590,000 USD) will also grant you a Golden Visa, which allows you to live in Spain.

If you want to rent a house or an apartment, keep in mind the cardinal rule of housing in Spain: Never accept a spoken agreement and demand a written contract. In general, Spanish law is on the side of the tenants, protecting their rights. Yet, it is not uncommon for landlords to ask you to provide proof of sufficient financial means or for a guarantor to sign the contract with you. With our Home Finding service, you will avoid potential scams and issues that occur when dealing with a foreign housing market.

In this detailed guide, you will also learn about the different types of houses, and the requirements you need to fulfil if you plan to rent or buy a home in Spain.

Rent prices vary greatly depending on where you want to live. Naturally, big cities such as Barcelona and Madrid are much pricier than places like Valencia or Bilbao. If you do not know which city to call home-away-from-home yet, get inspired by our Best Places To Live in Spain guide.

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In this section, we cover the Spanish healthcare system and health insurance in detail. From how to apply for health insurance in Spain, to how to find a doctor, as well as what to consider when giving birth in Spain. We will guide you through the process of finding a specialized medical practitioner and what medical care to expect.

Public healthcare in Spain is free and includes primary care services such as family medicine, pediatric, nursing services, midwives, and physiotherapists, as well as emergency and diagnosis prevention services. Adult dental care, correction glasses and some orthopedic services, and pharmaceutical items are not free. Costs will vary depending on your income.

If you are a legal resident working in Spain, you are eligible for public healthcare and will need to register at the local Social Security to get your health card (tarjeta sanitaria individual). Bear in mind that you will need to show this card at every doctor’s appointment. If you are not eligible for any type of public healthcare, you can opt for a pay-in-scheme at a minimum rate of 60 EUR (70 USD) per month. For more information, read our full section on health insurance and the healthcare system in Spain.

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Banks & Taxes

Opening a bank account in Spain is fairly simple. Spain’s best banks offer accounts for residents, as well as bank accounts for non-residents. Once you are granted residency, you can convert it into a resident account.

Both Spanish residents and non-residents need to file a tax return at the end of each tax year. If you are a non-resident, you only need to pay taxes on your Spanish income unless you have worked in Spain for longer than 183 days a year. Wondering how much the tax is in Spain? That depends on the type of tax. For instance, income tax ranges from 19% to 45%, depending on how much you earn. Read on to learn everything you need to know about opening a bank account and managing your taxes in Spain.

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You may want to consider enrolling your children in international schools, if you are relocating to Spain with your family. The school system in Spain is made up of public, semi-private, and private schools. Spain’s school system is good, but international schools in the country rank highly nationally and internationally. These schools usually allow kids to follow an internationally recognized curriculum with English as the primary teaching language, and español as a foreign taught language.

The education system in Spain has some peculiarities. Secondary school is divided into three compulsory years and two additional voluntary years called Bachillerato. School is only mandatory until the age of 16, hence the three compulsory years of secondary school. However, most Spanish students want to attend university, and for that, they need the Bachillerato. Read on to learn more about the Spanish education system and the best schools in the country.

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As part of your relocation, you will need to inform yourself on how it is to work in Spain. In this section, you will find helpful insights on how to get a job in Spain, the local job market, the usual requirements, tips for interviews, the business culture, and information on the average salary.

In general, integration into the Spanish job market is easier if you speak Spanish, but speaking English is a good asset as well. If you are a non-EU national, you will need a work and residence visa in order to work in the country. To get these, you will need a job offer or contract with a Spanish employer.

Also, a foreigner is only hired in Spain if the occupation is listed as a shortage occupation. This list is published quarterly by the Public Employment Service (Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal).

If you plan to become self-employed in Spain, this section covers all the requirements for registering your business, what Spanish social security benefits to expect, and maternity and paternity leave for self-employment.


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How is it like living in Spain? Before relocating, get acquainted with the culture and lifestyle.. The country is overall friendly and open to foreigners. Yet, it is good to know what to expect before living there.

There are many pros and cons to living in Spain. The weather, food, and nature are amazing. The healthcare system is top-notch and locals are welcoming. As for the downsides, Spain has a high unemployment rate, and if you are not fluent in Spanish, the language barrier will make your settling-in process slower.

The cost of living in Spain is not as high as in other big EU countries. Generally, the prices in southwestern Europe, tend to be cheaper than in Central or Northern Europe.

Spain puts a lot of emphasis on a work-life balance. Although the concept of siesta is outdated in big cities, people like to take long lunch breaks to relax. Eating in the metro or at your desk at work is highly frowned upon because Spanish people place a lot of importance on meals.

You will also need to make sure you are equipped for driving in Spain. This section covers everything you need to know about changing your foreign driver’s license to a Spanish one and navigating the Spanish public transportation system. We designed our Settling-In Services to help with adapt to your new life as quickly as possible. In an hour-long call our destination insiders will guide on how to deal with Spanish bureaucracy and give you step by step guidance on local registrations and processes.

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Updated on: November 25, 2021

Join Our Exciting Events in Spain

Once we've helped you move to Spain, we can make you feel at home by introducing you to other expats who have already settled and are part of our Spain Community. Attend our monthly events and activities in Spain and get to know like-minded expats in real life.

What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Start date Nov 25, 2021, 7:00 PM

Attendees 9

InterNations BCN - Party Time @ Clubhaus

Start date Nov 25, 2021, 8:00 PM

Attendees 205

Business AfterWork, November

Start date Nov 26, 2021, 7:00 PM

Attendees 28

Ruta de Tapa Adventure, Torremolinos

Start date Nov 26, 2021, 7:30 PM

Attendees 8

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