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Moving to Spain

A Comprehensive Guide to Moving to Spain

You may find yourself with all sorts of questions on how to move to Spain, such as “Do I need a visa to live and work in the country? How can I move my belongings and my pets? How do I go about renting a house?” This relocation guide will help you with every step of the relocation process to Spain, from the Spanish visa types and requirements for renting a house, moving your household items, and dealing with utilities.

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats ourselves, we understand what you need, and offer the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us to jump start your move abroad!


Moving and Shipping Household Goods to Spain

If you are wondering how to move household items and belongings to Spain, rest assured, you will not have much difficulty. Spain is one of the best transporters in the world, due to its convenient geographical location. Whether you plan to ship your belongings by air freight, train, sea, or by road, you should be well covered with many options of services to choose from.

In general, whether your shipped belongings arrive at a port or airport in Spain, they will have to go through Spanish customs. 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 need to declare them. As a general rule, make sure you only bring items up to the allowed quantities, and bring all the necessary permits, to avoid setbacks at the border.

Also, if you are wondering what to pack when moving to Spain, you should know you can find everything you need in Spain, so do not worry about bringing anything specific, be it furniture, clothing, or other regular items.

You are forbidden to enter Spain with the following items:

Which Items are Prohibited in Spain?
  • Food, specifically meat or meat products, milk and dairy products
  • Plant products, such as flowers, fruits, vegetables, and other plants
  • Protected wild animals or plant species
  • Drugs, narcotics, or any goods that violate regulations

Some items are also restricted, and you may need authorization if you wish to bring them into the country:

  • Species of fauna and flora protected by the CITES convention require a permit, such as ivory, tortoise shells, certain hunting trophies, birds in the parrot family, among others.
  • You are not allowed to bring more than five pets with you, and all must have the necessary documentation, which is covered further in the guide.
  • Some medication and cosmetics may require a prescription or other certificate.

There are different restrictions for EU citizens and non-EU citizens when it comes to customs regulations.

If you are moving to Spain from another Member State, the moving process should be hassle-free. Spain follows the standard EU rules, defined by the Union Customs Code. That means you can move goods freely within the EU, without import duties, commercial restrictions, or customs requirements.

Import and Customs Within the EU

Restrictions on special goods in Spain, such as tobacco and alcohol, are also the ones established by the EU. If you are traveling within the EU via Switzerland or other non-EU countries, you can still carry personal goods without border formalities.

For goods traveling within the EU, there are customs allowances for the following items:

  • Tobacco products:
    • 800 cigarettes
    • 400 cigarillos (cigars weighing not more than 3 g each)
    • 200 cigars
    • 1 kg of smoking tobacco
  • Alcoholic beverages
    • 10 liters of spirit drinks
    • 20 liters of intermediate products
    • 90 liters of wine (including a maximum of 60 liters for sparkling wines)
    • 110 liters of beer

If you are entering Spain from outside the EU, you can also transport goods free of taxation and customs duties, as long as they are not of a commercial nature. However, for non-EU countries, there are more restrictions on the value and quantity of goods you are allowed to import.

Import and Customs from Outside the EU
  • Importing some goods by air or sea freight, like perfume, coffee, tea, or electronic devices, etc., are subject to taxation if they exceed the total value of 430 EUR. For other means of transportation, the limit value is 300 EUR, and 150 EUR for travelers under 15 years old. But, in general, occasional imports, such as personal items and luggage are not subject to customs or taxations.
  • The following goods are also tax-free, up to these quantities:
    • Tobacco:
      • 200 cigarettes
      • 100 cigarillos
      • 50 cigars
      • 250 grams of tobacco
    • Alcoholic beverages
      • 1 liter of alcohol and alcoholic beverages
      • 2 liters of alcoholic beverages of an alcoholic strength not exceeding 22% volume
      • 4 liters of still wine, and 16 liters of beer (only for VAT and excise duty)
    • Fuel
      • The fuel contained in the standard tank of the vehicle
      • Up to 10 liters in a portable container

If you stay within the allowed quantities and do not bring any forbidden items, you can go through the green channel at Spanish customs. However, if you bring goods for commercial use, exceed these limits, bring restricted items, or carry 10,000 EUR or more with you, you will have to go through the red channel at the border and declare these items. You can read more on this manual on customs for non-EU citizens on the Spanish Customs website.

If you choose to use a moving company, look for certifications that ensure they are a reputable service with quality standards.

Home Goods Storage

If you are just arriving in Spain and have nowhere to store your home goods, finding long and short-term storage options should not be a problem. On average, Spain offers a good number of facilities for storing your household goods throughout the country, being among the leading countries in the self-storing industry in Europe. But prices are also among the highest when compared to other European countries, with costs averaging 264 EUR per square meter a year. Short-term renting may cost anywhere from 100 to 350 EUR per month, depending on how much space you need.

You may also have difficulties when first comparing services and making reservations. Unlike in many other countries, most storage companies in Spain tend not to show their prices online, nor allow reservations through the website, so prepare to fill out forms on companies’ websites or to contact them via phone or email.

As for storage services, the biggest cities in Spain are well covered in terms of options. But even if you are looking for storage outside of the main cities, you should be able to find services easily, by searching for trasteros close to you.

Vaccinations and Health Requirements for Spain

The vaccinations requirements for Spain are standard. You should be up-to-date on routine childhood vaccines, but also adult vaccines, like for the flu and tetanus. In general, there are no strict vaccination requirements to move to Spain.

Depending on where you are coming from, you should check with your doctor to see if you need additional vaccinations, such as for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Rabies. Rabies is present in bats in Spain, so take special care if you are spending a lot of time outdoors. Try to get your vaccines 4 to 6 weeks before moving.

There are no other health requirements to move to Spain. However, some types of visas do require a medical certificate, in conformity with the Ministry of Health, Consumption, and Wellbeing, and the Ministry of Labor, Immigration, and Social Security, or other EU regulations. Check with your diplomatic mission or consular post for all necessary information or requirements for this certificate before applying for a visa.

Moving with Pets

Moving to Spain with pets is fairly simple, but you still need to look out for some of these requirements.

All animals have to be vaccinated against rabies, no matter where you are coming from. Because dogs, cats, and ferrets under three months of age are not vaccinated against rabies, these are not allowed to enter the country, so keep that in mind when planning your move. You are also not allowed to bring more than five pets with you, with some exceptions for competitions and other events.

Some of the documents and forms you need to provide require a Spanish version, so if you do not know the language, it is a good idea to get some help beforehand.

All cats, dogs, and ferrets need to be vaccinated against rabies. However, if you are coming from a country with a risk of rabies, it is mandatory that your dog, cat, or ferret go through a mandatory serological test, conducted in an EU-certified laboratory.

Moving Pets Within the EU

If you are coming from an EU country, you will be glad to know Spain follows the standard EU conditions. All pets need an identification document, either a European Pet Passport or a Health Certificate and Declaration of the owner. Your pet must also have a microchip, or a tattoo, if it was made before 3 July 2011, and it should still be readable. Prepare to be inspected when entering the country, and have these identification documents at hand.

Always check with your airline or transportation company for approved pet carriers, to make sure you meet all the requirements.

Moving Pets Outside the EU

If you are relocating from a non-EU country, you and your pet must enter Spain through one of these Entry Points. Once there, you should inform the Civil Guard that you are traveling with a pet, in order to go through inspection.

If you do not have access to a European Pet Passport, you will need to bring:

  • A zoo-sanitary certificate, signed by an official veterinarian from the country you are traveling from, translated to Spanish.
  • A declaration written by the owner or authorized person stating the non-commercial purpose of the transportation. You can find the model on the European Commission’s website.
  • A certified copy of the identification and vaccination of the pet.
Traveling with Other Pets

Other companion animals, such as fish, reptiles, or rodents can enter Spain fairly easily. These pets only require a veterinary certificate corresponding with the INTRA model. There is one model for reptiles, and one for other companion animals. If you are moving from a non-EU country, you will need a zoo-sanitary certificate signed by a veterinary, presented at least in Spanish. This should correspond with one of three models – reptiles, domestic rodents, and rabbits.

Birds arriving from another EU country must have a veterinary certificate, in accordance with the INTRA-2 model, written at least in Spanish, and issued in the last 10 days of your travel. To import birds from outside the EU, these need to meet some additional requirements, regarding vaccines and isolation, so check those before moving. You must go through one of the Entry Points, and declare the transportation of the pet to the Civil Guard, accompanied by:

  • A zoo-sanitary certificate, signed by an official veterinarian from the country you’re traveling from, written at least in Spanish
  • A declaration written by the owner or authorized person stating the non-commercial purpose of the transportation
Attitude Towards Pets

Once in Spain, there are good products and services covering pet needs, and you should not have trouble finding pet food, vet clinics, or canine residences. Even though control on animal registration is not very tight, to avoid hassle you should consult the local city hall, or ayuntamiento, on registration requirements of your pet, as these are done on a municipal basis.

Also, some recent laws in Spain are looking to consider animals sentient beings rather than objects, which would prevent pets from being confiscated as assets in the case of debt collections, which is good news for your pet.

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Visa & Work Permits

Work and Residence Permits

When it comes to getting a work residence permit in Spain, EU-citizens have it easier, while for non-EU citizens, the process may take longer and require more preparation. But no matter where you are coming from, this guide covers all the work visa requirements and application process, from getting a work permit, skilled worker visa, registering with the local authorities, and all other formalities of living and working in Spain. You can read our section on working in Spain see if you meet all the requirements to work in the country.

If you are a national of the European Union, of the European Economic Area, or Switzerland, living and working in Spain is relatively straightforward. You can stay in the country up to three months without having to report your presence or having to register with the authorities – no paperwork required. All that is asked is that you hold a valid national ID card or passport, which you will need to present to the authorities whenever requested.

As an EU national you do not need a visa or work permit to stay, work, or study in Spain. There are still some formalities you need to take into account after entering the country, such as obtaining the Número de Identidad de Extranjeros (NIE) and empadronamiento, which are all covered throughout this guide.

Work and Residence Visas

Generally speaking, citizens of non-EU countries need a short-term Schengen visa (usually valid for 90 days in a 180-days period) to enter Spain, but this may depend on your country of origin. Check the complete list of third countries that do and don’t require a visa (Section I and II, respectively). You are also exempt from applying for a visa if you have already been issued a valid residence permit or long-term visa by another Schengen Member State.

However, you will not be able to work or stay past 90 days with this visa, so if you wish to work or stay longer than 90 days in the country, you need to apply for a long-term visa (which includes residence-only visa; work and residence visa; and other types of long-term visas).

To apply for a long-term visa, you will need an initial authorization, autorizacíon, with its own set of documents and application forms. Only after getting this initial authorization, can you then apply for a long-term visa. Keep in mind you will not be issued a visa if you are already in the country, so make sure you do it before you move, by applying in person at the Spanish Diplomatic Mission or Consular Office of the country where you legally reside.

You will need to bring a printed application form corresponding to your situation, which you can get for free either at the official website for foreign affairs or at Spain’s Diplomatic Missions or Consular Posts abroad.

In general, all official documents need to be in Spanish, and previously legalized by Spanish authorities, so check all the necessary procedures for the legalization and translation of your documents.

The long-term visa costs around 60 EUR (but is subject to change), and you will not be refunded in case the application is denied. Also, consult with the Spanish Diplomatic Missions or Consular Posts to see if you are eligible for a reduction or waiver of this fee.

How to Apply for a Work and Residence Visa?

As a non-EU national, you will need a work and residency visa in order to work in Spain. When applying for a visa you will need to state the purpose of your stay, so they can correctly process your application:

  • Residence without a work permit
  • Residence – family reunion
  • Residence – employee
  • Residence – self-employed
  • Residence – Temporary work (9 months in one year)
  • Studies
  • Research (within the framework of an agreement signed by a research center)
  • Accreditation

The visa form will be given to you at the time of your application, but you can see an example of a form on the Foreigner’s Office website, under residence visa to work in Spain.

In general, you will need an initial authorization (autorización) from your embassy, diplomatic mission, or consular office before being allowed to apply for a visa.

If you are going to be working as an employee for a Spanish employer, they will put in this initial authorization for your visa, so you will first need to secure a job first. Your employer puts in this request for your visa with the Immigration office, by submitting the application form EX03, which should not take more than three months to process. For this part of the process, you should provide your employer with a full copy of your passport, and a copy of your qualifications.

Once you are notified that your request for a visa has been approved, you will have to apply in person at the Diplomatic mission or Consular office of your home country. You may need to make an appointment with your consulate, and may also be interviewed during the application process, so make sure to check all the necessary requirements with your consulate in advance. The visa application form is given to you at your consular office.

You will need to bring:

  • Your passport
  • Your criminal record from the country where you have lived in the past five years
  • Two photographs, in color, with a white background (3.5 x 4.5)
  • A medical certificate
  • A copy of your work contract, stamped by the Immigration Office
  • Proof of payment of the 60 EUR fee

The diplomatic mission then has one month to reply to your application. Once it is approved, you will have one month to collect your visa in person.

From that point on, you have three months to enter Spain, and once there, you have one month to apply for a work permit and register with the Social Security to carry out all the formalities after entering the country.

Work Permits and How to Apply

After you have received your work and residence visa, and you are already in the country, you will need to apply for a work permit.

There are various types of work permits:

  • Type A work permit is for seasonal and limited work, with a maximum duration of nine months, including renewals.
  • Type B initial work permit allows you to work in Spain, in a specific occupation and geographical area, for a maximum period of one year.
  • Type B renewed work permit is a renewal of the initial work permit, which extends it to a maximum of two years. You can also carry out various professional activities with this permit.
  • Type C work permit is a renewal of the type B permit and allows you to carry out any activity in the country.
  • Permanent work permits have an unlimited duration, but you still have to renew them every five years. You can apply for this visa after your type C has expired.
  • Other types of permits, such as the extraordinary permit (when a non-EU citizen has helped the Spanish economic and cultural progress), or a type F permit (for working at the Spanish borders, provided the worker returns daily to their own country).

To apply, you will have to bring the following documents to the Foreigners’ office, or Oficina de Extranjeria, of the city where you intend to live:

  • A copy of your passport
  • Your criminal record
  • A medical certificate
  • Three passport-size photographs
  • Your NIE
  • Your employer’s social security number
  • The job offer with the labor conditions
  • A full description of the job and the company’s activity
  • Proof of your employer’s solvency (if needed)
Visas for Studying or Residing in Spain

If you wish to study, research, or do other non-labor activity in Spain, you will need to follow the same procedures to obtain an authorization for a visa and then apply for the visa.

You can find all the information on the formalities for studyingstudent exchange, voluntary work, or other non-labor activity in Spain.

Alternatively, you can also apply for a visa for residence only, which will not allow you to carry out any professional activity. You can find all the information on residence visas and permits on the official immigration website.

Visa for Highly Skilled Workers: the European Blue Card

If you are a highly skilled worker, you can apply for a European Blue Card, the equivalent of the Green Card in the United States. This work and residence visa allows highly skilled non-EU workers to live and work in any European country, with the exception of Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.

A highly skilled worker is either:

  • A manager of highly qualified staff of large businesses or corporate groups, or SMEs in strategic sectors
  • A manager of highly qualified staff of business projects in the general interest
  • Or a graduate, postgraduate from universities and prestigious business schools

The process of applying for a visa and work permit is similar for other workers, the process is carried out by your employer with these procedures and requirements.

If you wish to be self-employed, read on to see how you can obtain a Blue Card as a self-employed worker.

Visa and Work Permit for Self-Employment

If you plan on being self-employed or an entrepreneur in Spain, the procedure to apply for a visa is similar to employees, with some differences as to the documents and forms you will need.

The first step is to put in a request, autorizacíon, for a visa at the diplomatic mission or consular office of your country of residence. Remember you cannot be in Spain when requesting this authorization or visa.

You need to bring the form EX07, and pay two different fees in advance, which you can download from the Spanish general secretary.

  • Modelo 790 código 052, epígrafe 2.1, autorización inicial de residencia temporal
  • Modelo 790 Código 062, epígrafe 1.5, autorizaciones de trabajo por cuenta propia

You will also need:

  • A list of authorizations or licenses required for the professional activity
  • Proof of training or qualification for the professional activity
  • Accreditation of sufficient economic investment
  • The project of the activity, indicating planned investments, expected profits and job creation, when applicable

These organization can accredit your qualifications, investment, and project of the activity:

  • Federación Nacional de Asociaciones de Empresarios y Trabajadores Autónomos (ATA)
  • Unión de Profesionales y Trabajadores Autónomos (UPTA)
  • Confederación Intersectorial de Autónomos del Estado Español (CIAE)
  • Organización de Profesionales y Autónomos (OPA)
  • Unión de Asociaciones de Trabajadores Autónomos y Emprendedores (UATAE)

This should be processed within three months. Once your autorización has been approved, you can then apply for the visa.

For your visa application, you will need to bring the following documents:

  • Your passport
  • Your criminal record from your country of origin or the country you have been living in the past five years
  • A medical certificate
  • Proof of payment of the corresponding fees.

The consular office then has one month to approve (or deny) your application. Once your visa is approved, you have one month to collect it in person. This visa will allow you to stay in Spain for three months, which is how long you have to apply for a work permit and carry out all other formalities after entering the country.

There are different work permits for self-employed workers:

  • Type D initial work permit allows you to carry out a specific activity for a maximum of one year, which could be limited to a geographical area.
  • Type D renewed work permit allows you to extend your initial work permit for two years, and work in various activities. This permit could also be limited by the Spanish government to a geographical area.
  • Type E work permit is issued after the renewed work permit expires and allows you to work in any professional activity for a maximum of three years.
  • A permanent work permit can be granted after the type E permit expires. Even though it’s permanent, you still have to renew the permit every five years.

Once you have obtained authorization, you have one month to apply for the visa. This is also done in person at the diplomatic mission or consular office, and you will need to bring:

  • Your passport
  • A criminal record certificate
  • A medical certificate
  • Proof of having paid the visa fee
Formalities After Entering the Country

Once in Spain, you will need to register with the corresponding Social Security scheme, register locally, and apply for either an NIE or TIE. These letters tend to cause some confusion, so the following table breaks it down for you.


EU nationals Non-EU nationals
Registering at the Foreigner’s office
NIE (tax number for foreigners) TIE (foreigner’s identity card, with tax number)
Social Security Number
Empadronamiento(registering locally)



Registration for EU-Nationals

EU nationals do not need a residence or work visa, but they need to register their presence with the Registro Central de Extranjeros (central registry of foreigners) once they are in the country. This registration should be done within the first three months of your arrival.

You will need to bring:

  • A valid passport or identification document
  • Two copies of the official form ex-18, filled out and signed
  • Depending on your status:
  • Salaried workers: a contract from the employer or other proof of employment
  • Self-employed workers: proof of registration with the register of economic activities, or censo de actividades económicas, or other proof of professional status
  • Students: their registration in the education establishment, proof of a private or public health cover valid in Spain, and a formal declaration that they have means to support themselves
  • Pensioners: proof of their public health cover, valid in Spain
  • If you do not fit any of these categories, you need to show proof of a health cover that is valid in Spain and that you have sufficient means to support yourself and your family 
NIE, Foreigners’ Identity Number

NIE is the equivalent of a tax number in Spain. It is mandatory for all foreigners wanting to carry out formalities in Spain, such as opening bank accounts or signing utility contracts. You can apply for an NIE at the Consular Post, or Comisaría, of the district you are moving to, with the following documents:

  • Form EX-15 (with instructions in English to complete the form)
  • a copy of your identity card or passport
  • a proof of your interest in applying for an NIE – economic, professional, or social
TIE, Foreigners’ Identity Card

All non-EU nationals wishing to stay in Spain for longer than 6 months need to apply for a TIE at the Foreigners’ Office. Aside from your personal information and residence status, this physical card also holds the NIE, so non-EU national need only apply for the TIE. It should be renewed every five years, and it is mandatory that you carry it with you and present it to the authorities whenever requested.

To apply for a TIE, you will need to present:

  • Two copies of the form EX-17, filled out and signed
  • Your passport, with the entry mark made at the border
  • Three recent photographs, in color with a black and white background, in card size
  • A visa, when applicable
  • Proof of payment of the fee (15.76 EUR)

If you are a family member of an EU citizen, you will be given a specific type of TIE, the tarjeta de familiar de residente de la Unión (form EX-19).

Registering Locally: Empadronamiento

Every foreigner needs to register at the municipal registry, Padrón Municipal, where they are residing.

You will need to provide:

  • Your personal information: name and surname, gender, place of residence, nationality, date and place of birth.
  • Your residency card or ID card
  • Your NIE
  • Your qualifications

Some requirements may vary by autonomous region. Some may allow you to register online and deliver your papers through the mail, while others may require an appointment, or cita previa, and for you to deliver the application forms in hand. Always check with your municipal registry office for the correct procedure.

Social Security Number

Generally speaking, if you are doing any kind of paid work or internship, you need a Social Security Number, whether you are an EU national or not. Check our guide on working in Spain to see how you can apply.

Permanent Residence

In general, you can become a permanent resident in Spain after working in the country for 5 years. This duration is not affected by temporary absence (under 6 months per year), compulsory military service or one-year absence for exceptional reasons, such as serious illness, work, vocational training or among others. You will lose the right to permanent residence if you leave the country for more than 2 consecutive years.

You may also qualify for permanent residence in under 5 years if you:

  • Retire, having worked in Spain for the last year, or have lived there continuously for 3 years.
  • Stop working after no longer being able to work, and have lived in the country for 2 consecutive years.
  • Stop working due to a work-related injury or illness, regardless of how long you have lived in the country.
  • Start working in another EU country as a cross-border worker, but have worked for 3 consecutive years in Spain.
What are the Benefits of Being a Permanent Resident in Spain?

The major benefit of being a permanent resident in Spain is that you can live and work in the country under the same rights and conditions as Spanish citizens. That means you can stay in the country indefinitely, change jobs and move to other regions like any national. As a permanent resident, you get to keep your original nationality and passport, while enjoying the benefits of living and working freely in Spain.

What are the Requirements for Permanent Residence for EU nationals?

After 5 years, as an EU National, you automatically have the right to permanently live in an EU country, without having to apply for a permanent residence document. However, doing so may help in dealing with the authorities and other formalities.

To obtain a document that proves your permanent residency, you must show proof that you have legally worked in Spain for 5 years, with the addition of these documents:

  • Registration certificate, issued when you arrived in Spain
  • Evidence that you have been living in the country, such as utility bills and rental contracts
  • Evidence that you have been working, studying, are self-employed, or self-sufficient in Spain (pay slips, bank statements, tax returns) or are looking for work.
What are the Requirements for Permanent Residence for Non-EU Nationals?

As a non-EU national, you have to go through the application process for permanent residence, or residencia de larga duración. This allows you to work and reside in Spain indefinitely, in the same conditions as Spaniards.

Alternatively, you could also apply for a long-term residence for the EU, which would allow you to live and work in Spain, as well as in other EU member state, in the same condition as other European citizens.

As a non-EU national, there are four types of permanent residence you can apply for:

To apply for the standard long-term residence, you need:

  • Two copies of the application form EX-11, filled out and signed
  • Your passport, travel title, or registration card
  • Payment of the long-term residence fee (21.44 EUR)
  • If you are a resident, proof that any minors in your care attend a school, such as a report issued by the authorities or school
  • If you are not a resident, a criminal record from your country of origin, or the country where you have lived in the last 5 years

As a resident, you can apply either in person or through a representative, at any public register, with the documentation addressed to the Immigration Office of their province of residence. Non-residents need to apply in person, at the Immigration office of their province of residence. If you are a non-resident, and not in Spanish territory, you can apply at the diplomatic mission or Spanish consular office of your place of residence.

If you do not have a TIE (the foreigners’ identification card) at this point, you need to apply within one month. Even if you have a long-term residence permit for Spain, you still need to renew your TIE every five years.

To apply for the long-term residence in Spain and the EU, the same requirements apply, except for the documents, which are as follows:

  • Two copies of the application form EX-11, filled out and signed
  • Your passport, travel title, or registration card
  • Proof that you can support yourself and your family
  • Proof that you have access to health insurance
  • Proof of payment of the fee required for permanent residence (21.44 EUR)

You can also obtain a Family residence card of a citizen of the EU, which has a 12 EUR fee.


Short-Term Rentals

When first arriving in Spain, you may find yourself in need of a short-term rental. Whether you are waiting for your home to be ready or just have not found the right place yet, sorting out a place to stay on a short-term basis upon arriving in Spain is a good idea.

There are many websites to look up temporary rentals or furnished monthly rentals.

Some of the most popular websites in Spain where you can look for a place at Fotocasa or Idealista.

You can also contact local real estate agentsor Agencias Inmobiliarias, to find the right place for you. The type of documents you may need will typically be the same as long-term rentals, which are covered further in this guide.

Looking for holiday rentals are also an option, but remember that these could get a bit pricier, especially if you end up having to stay for longer than expected. Still, you will not find a shortage of options on popular websites such as Airbnb, or Rentalia.

Renting a House or Apartment

Knowing how to rent houses or apartments in Spain will potentially save you from drawbacks with your budget, overly long searches or even misunderstandings with landlords. We cover all aspects of renting in Spain, from prices to renting rules, and utilities.

Average Rental Prices for Apartments and Houses

The price of apartments and house rentals in Spain has slowly but consistently been on the rise. The average renting price in Spain is 8 EUR per square meter, although this price varies hugely by area.

Madrid takes the podium of the most expensive area of the country, way above the national average, at 13 EUR per square meter, closely followed by Cataluña, at 12 EUR /m2. Prices in the Balearic Islands and the Basque Country are also above the national average. The cheapest areas to live in Spain are Extremadura, Castilla la Mancha, and La Rioja, way below the national average, at around 4 or 5 EUR per square meter.

This means that if you are planning on renting in Spain, you can expect cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, and Palma de Mallorca to be the most expensive. In Madrid, you could pay a minimum of 750 EUR, going up to 1,100 EUR for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center. However, the national average for a one-bedroom apartment in the country is 600 EUR in city centers, and 450 EUR outside the city centers.

Tenants and Landlord Rights, and What to Expect as a Tenant

If you are wondering what kind of rights you have as a tenant in Spain and what rules and processes to expect from your landlord if you are a foreigner, the following insights should help.

Long-term rentals are typically 5 years long, with an implicit renewal of 3 years. For these standard contracts, you should not be asked to pay more than 2 months of rent as a deposit.

It is common for landlords to ask for an NIE and proof of sufficient means of payment, like an employment contract, the most recent pay slips, or the latest tax declaration filed.

Tenancy contracts in Spain can either be written or verbal, but having a written agreement is always recommended. In case you find yourself looking at a contract in Spanish, knowing these important terms can help you deal with the legal part of renting a house or apartment.

Spanish terms English terms
Arrendador Landlord
Arrendatario Tenant
Aval Surety
Certificado de ingresos Certificate of income
Contrato de arrendamiento Tenancy contract
Documento Nacional de Identidad National Identity document
Renta Rent


How to Find a House or Apartment in Spain?

If you are looking for an apartment or house to rent in Spain, it is recommended to check different sources, to get a good idea of what the offer is like in your location. Look up local newspapers, browse real estate websites, and consider talking to locals, who might give you some specific insights into renting in the area.

You can find houses and apartments in these popular websites, with both furnished and unfurnished:

  • Fotocasa
  • Idealista
  • Spainhouses

You can also rely on public groups or agencies that serve as intermediaries or manage their own houses, such as homeowner associations, Local Housing Offices, Urban Property Chambers or the national banks.

Buying Property as a Foreigner

If you are looking to buy property as a foreigner, you will be happy to know there are no restrictions on property ownership in Spain. There are still some requirements you need to look out for. In general, all foreigners need to have an NIE, but non-EU nationals will also need a visa to be able to buy property.

But there is good news if you wish to buy a house to get permanent residency. Purchasing property over 500,000 EUR will grant you a Golden Visa, which allows you to live in Spain. This visa has to be renewed every two years. Just like with the regular residence visas, with Golden Visas, you are allowed permanent residence in Spain after five years of residence, and Spanish citizenship after ten years.

What are the Steps to Buying a House in Spain as a Foreigner?

There are several ways you can search for property in Spain. Your best bet is to look at different sources, such as specific websites, local real estate agent, but also magazines and newspapers.

To look for properties, you can use some of the same websites as for renting, such as Idealista or Fotocasa. You just have to select comprar, and you will see all the options available for purchase.

All issues concerning housing in Spain are managed by the Ministerio de Viviendas, where you can get more specific information on architecture, sustainable building or evaluation reports.

In general, you should follow these steps when buying any type of property in Spain:

  • Getting a mortgage offer, which usually requires a credit check
  • Searching for the type of properties you want
  • Checking the Registro de la Propiedad, the Spanish property registry
    • This should give you more legal details on the property, such as the registry name if it is debt free, and information on its dimensions and other status
  • Paying the deposit to secure the property, once you have found the right one
  • Signing the deed of sale, and paying the remaining property price on a monthly basis

You can find these common types of properties in Spain:

  • Apartments, or apartamentos or pisos, are the most popular and abundant type of real estate.
  • Semidetached houses, or casa adosada, are usually found in rows, in towns or villages. These can have a communal garden with a pool and can have two or three floors, with a garage.
  • Villas, also called casa or chalet, are detached, isolated properties, with its own garden. These are rare in larger towns or cities and are very popular among wealthy Spaniards or expats.
  • Urbanizations, or urbanizaciones, are closed estates, usually with several apartments, townhouses or villas. These also tend to be expensive and are often chosen for providing tranquility and security
  • Country properties, or fincas, are the typically farmhouses found more inland. Because of their location, these can be cheaper per square meter, when compared to other houses.
Property Prices

Prices for property in Spain largely depend on the type of property you are looking for and your desired location. Overall, you can see a trend in property prices going up, but Spain is still among the most affordable countries in the world, in income to property price ratio.

Capitals and big cities are usually the most expensive in terms of property prices, and the cost of living in those cities will demand more of you financially too. In Barcelona, you can expect to find housing at an average of 3,380 EUR per square meter, followed by Madrid, at 2,965 EUR per square meter, Bilbao, at 2,219 EUR, and Cadiz, at 2,014 EUR.

The most expensive city, however, is San Sebastian, a resort town in the Basque Country, with house prices slightly surpassing Barcelona, at 3,383 EUR per square meter.

If you look for property in the metropolitan areas, you will find them much cheaper than in city centers, at an average price per square meter of 1,349 EUR. Still, the best deals in the country are found in places such as La Rioja, Castile, and León or Castile-La Mancha, the picturesque vineyards in inland Spain. The downside to living in these regions is that transportation costs can easily add up with trips to beaches, hospitals, and airports.

Utility Companies

If you are renting in Spain, you will usually have to pay for your utilities, though it is possible to arrange with your landlord to include them in your rent. Your contract may also establish who should contract these services, so either way, it may be up to you to find the best utility companies.

What Documents Will I Need?

In general, you will have to sign a contract with a utility company. These documents are typically required:

  • NIE (foreigners’ identity number)
  • The number of your bank account for direct debits
Electricity and Gas in Spain

Electricity prices in Spain are some of the highest in the world, so expect this to take up a big part of your expenses.

These biggest utility companies in Spain supply both gas and electricity:

  • Iberdrola
  • Naturgy
  • Grupo Endesa
  • EDP

Some of the biggest utility companies supplying gas in the country are:

  • Enagás
  • Repsol
Water in Spain

Water is usually provided by private or semi-private companies, that have concession contracts with municipalities. Water is safe to drink in the majority of the country.

Depending on where you move, you may have trouble with a shortage of water in Spain. While northern and central areas may experience surplus rainfalls, the southern part of the country, along with the Balearic and Canary Islands, may experience a deficiency in the water supply. There are sometimes restrictions on water usage, especially during the summer, which can make common tasks like watering gardens or taking showers challenging, due to lack of water or lower water pressure.

Internet and Mobile Phones

Spain has one of the most developed mobile markets in the world, so when it comes to finding a phone provider, you should be well covered. The same goes for the internet since Spain has the fastest fiber optic services in Europe.

Some of the most popular operators, providing both internet and phone services are:

  • Movistar
  • Orange
  • Vodafone

Whether you are moving abroad for the first time or relocated multiple times before, the process raises many questions. Our complete guide to relocation will ease your doubts along the way, from the initial preparations to how to negotiate a relocation package, we help you GO! prepared with the key answers.

Updated on: November 11, 2019

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