Moving to Madrid?

Connect with fellow expats in Madrid
Join exciting events and groups
Get information in our Madrid guides
Exchange tips about expat life in Madrid

Moving to Madrid

After moving to Madrid, you will enjoy the warm atmosphere and artistic heritage of this colorful city. No wonder Madrid acts as a magnet for expats! Are you one of them? Read all about the city, including visa regulations, neighborhoods, and healthcare, on InterNations.

Beyond the general flair and ambience, there are various reasons why moving to Madrid is something that many expats have done. Many of the city’s foreign nationals come from Latin America: in 2014 seven out of the top ten countries of origin for migrants to the city were Latin American countries, with Ecuador, Bolivia, and Colombia being the most common out of them. Due to the employment opportunities (which were superior to those in many a South American country), they seized the opportunity of relocating to Madrid.

Due to its location, Madrid is Spain’s transportation hub, making it easily accessible from many locations. The Madrid Barajas Airport is located within 20 minutes of the city center by car and can be reached with the metro in an hour. Therefore, should you be moving to Madrid and leaving behind friends and family, it will be a reassuring thought to have a fairly quick transport connection back home.

Before You Get on the Plane…

If you are moving to Madrid for less than 90 days and are not a national of an EU member state, you need to apply for a tourist visa (visado de turismo).  If you consider  a stay in Madrid for more than 3 months, and do not fall into the category of an EU citizen or a national of the Schengen Agreement countries (Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein), you should prepare yourself for a bit of paperwork. Depending on the type of visa you need, you must follow different regulations before moving to Madrid.

Here is a brief list of some of the more common visas required for Madrid:

  • Family reunification visa (visado de reagrupación familiar): this visa applies to people who are married or related (sibling, child under 18, or parent) to a Spanish citizen.
  • Work visa (visado de residencia y trabajo por cuenta ajena): if you are moving to Madrid for a job, contact your employer when applying for a work visa, as you will need to supply an employment contract to the authorities. You can find downloadable application forms and more specific information on the website of the Spanish Foreign Ministry.
  • Student visa (visado de estudiantes): if you plan on moving to Madrid on a student visa, you must be enrolled in a Spanish school or university, or in an exchange program. Student stays may exceed 90 days. When applying for a student visa, you can simultaneously apply for visas for your spouse and children under 18 as well.

If you plan on moving to Madrid on a different visa, please contact your nearest Spanish embassy or consulate Again, keep in mind that if you are applying for one of the above visas, you must do so in your country of origin before your move to Madrid. Allow several months of administrative processing time before actually making the move.

An NIE — A Must for Foreigners

Any foreign national moving to Madrid also needs to apply for a Número de Identificación de Extranjeros (NIE). The NIE serves as both an identification number as well as a tax number for non-Spanish citizens. The application process for the NIE is relatively uncomplicated and should not be a cause for concern.

You will need to fill out the application form and personally bring it along with the following documents to the Oficina de Extranjería in downtown Madrid:

  • the application form and a copy thereof
  • your passport
  • for non-EU residents, documents indicating the reason they need an NIE (e.g. purchasing a house, business purposes)
  • proof of your current address in Madrid

You should allow a period of up to three weeks to receive your NIE in the mail. 


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

If there’s something you’re still not sure about, check out the InterNations Forum.

Jacques Paillard

"At the InterNations Events, I didn't only enjoy dancing the night away at some great venues, but I also got to know some great friends. "

Katharina Berbner

"Thanks to InterNations, I found a good language school for expats to take intensive classes in Spanish and socialize a bit more. "

Global Expat Guide

Top Articles Expat Guide