Healthcare system and Health Insurance in Spain

Health Insurance in Spain

As is the case everywhere, health insurance is of primary importance and it is no different in Spain.  Whether you are a resident or on a visit healthcare can make enormous inroads in your budget or your savings and so insurance to safeguard you in the event of illness or accident is vital.

There are a number of choices when it comes to healthcare in Spain.

  1. Social Security contributions to the Public healthcare system
  2. Private healthcare Insurance
  3. Euro Health insurance

How the National Healthcare system works in Spain.

Many are wary of public healthcare and especially healthcare offered in foreign countries, but Spain has an excellent system that not only compares favourably with the British NHS system but provides better and more up-to-date facilities and equipment than Britain, despite, according to the World Bank, Britain spends a greater % of GDP per capita on healthcare than Spain.

It is also important to note that the National Healthcare Service in Spain does not cover dental care.  So if you feel that you need to cover this type of care you will have to look to private insurance cover.

Be aware that although the system covers the whole of Spain, you will have to attend a facility in your area as designated by the system.  You will not be able to pick and choose which facility you prefer.


Who is entitled to National Healthcare in Spain?

Residents of Spain:  If you are a resident of Spain (regardless of nationality) and you make regular Social Security contributions than you and your immediate family members are entitled to access Spain’s National Health Service.  You can be either employed, self-employed or retired and on a pension.  However, there is a big ‘but’, If you are still registered on a national healthcare system in a country outside Spain you must de-register before applying to Spain’s National Healthcare Service.

That said, and again, as is the case in any country, Private Healthcare is a better choice if you can afford it, and many take private health insurance in Spain.

To benefit from the excellent Spanish healthcare system you will need to register and be prepared to pay the Social Security contributions according to your income or employment status.

Who is NOT Eligible for National Healthcare in Spain?

Spain like Britain has experienced the problem of EU citizens taking advantage of its Healthcare system and as a result has put provisos in place as well as the requirement for expats before they can access the system.

Persons not eligible for Healthcare

  • Expats who are below retirement age and who are not employed in Spain and who have not registered.
  • Anyone who has not followed the required procedures.
  • Anyone who has not obtained an SIP card.
  • Anyone who has not de-registered from the healthcare system in their home country.


Short term Healthcare in Spain

EU and UK Citizens: If you are registered with the NHS in Britain or your EU country’s national healthcare system, you need to apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).  This will give you access to the National Health Service in Spain. With this card healthcare in Spain will be provided either at a reduced cost or, depending on the service provided, at no cost.

Reviews on the usefulness of this card vary so although you may have some cover it is possible that the card will not cover you for all emergencies or even for full treatment, but merely just enough to get you back home.

If your reason for travelling to Spain is pure to gain medical treatment, you will not be able to use this card.

Even if you do have this card you should ensure that you are fully covered by also taking out Travel insurance so that you do not find yourself with insufficient health cover.  It is also a good idea to ensure that your travel insurance provides for repatriation should you be unfortunate and need long term treatment.

Non-EU Citizens:  If your country has a bilateral agreement with Spain then you should ensure that you are issued with a Certificate of Right to Medical Care as this will entitle you to free emergency care in Spain.

Countries with bilateral agreements

  • Andorra
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Ecuador
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Morocco (only if you are working in Spain)
  • Tunisia (only if you are working in Spain)

Other Non-EU Citizens:  It is advisable to ensure that you purchase travel insurance before leaving for Spain.  You will still have to pay direct on the day you receive treatment and apply for reimbursement from the insurance company holding your insurance or the agent/broker from whom you purchased the insurance.

International Student Health Insurance

If it is your plan to study in Spain then you must be aware that you must have health cover in order to succeed with you study visa application.  There are different requirements depending on whether you are from an EU country or from outside the EU.

EU-Citizens – You are able to utilise your healthcare membership of your home country.  This includes citizens of Switzerland.  However, you will need proof that you have this cover.  You need to apply for the Health Insurance card (EHIC) – See section on Short-Term Healthcare above.

Non-EU Citizens: If you are from any country outside the EU including the USA and Canada you need to ensure that you purchase private healthcare insurance, and ensure that you are covered for the whole period of study in Spain.

Suggested insurers for students.

The two suggested travel plans can be purchased online.  After purchase, the relevant documents are emailed to you immediately.  These documents will then be proof of healthcare cover in time for your visa application.

  • Atlas Travel Plan
  • Europe Travel Plan

Healthcare for Residents of Spain

No matter whether you are an EU citizen or not, if you are planning to move permanently to Spain you can apply to register for the National Healthcare Service before you leave and begin your Social Security contributions as soon as you arrive in Spain.

UK Pensioners:  If you are 65 or over and you are planning to retire to Spain.  Before you leave you will need an E121 from the Department of Work and Pensions.  By acquiring an E121 you have effectively de-registered from the NHS and are now legally permitted to register for healthcare in Spain.  You will need this E121 form, with all the other required documents to apply for your Permit of residency.

(See: How to get residence in Spain)

Social Security and your employer

If you are employed your employer is legally required to register you for Social Security and to make the necessary contributions on your behalf as per each salary payment.  It is usual that the costs are shared between you and your employer.  You can calculate around 6 to 8%.

Social Security and Self-Employment.

As a self-employed individual you come under the regimen especial Trabajadores autónomos scheme and as such you are responsible for ensuring that you are registered for Social Security contributions.

As you are your own employer you must ensure that you can meet these Social Security contributions.  Self-employment often means a fluctuating income so it is wise to ensure that your Social Security contributions are covered no matter what.  There is no set amount of your income will vary, but you can choose from a range with set minimum and maximum amounts payable.

However, regardless of your contributions as you are self-employed, you are not covered under the National Health Service for:

  • Work related illness
  • Accidents at work

Should you feel that these are very real risks, then you need to purchase Private Insurance cover.

How to register for the National Health Service in Spain

The first thing is to make sure that you have registered as a resident at your local Town Hall, and have your Certificate of Residence.

UK Pensioners:

Step 1 – Register for National Healthcare

Documents required to register:

  • NIE number (tax ID card)
  • Valid passport (plus photocopies of  first page and photograph page)
  • Your residency Certificate (plus photocopy)
  • A completed and signed application form


To download the application form click on ‘Library’ then click ‘Health’ at Citizenadvice

Once you have all the relevant documents you need to take everything to the TGSS (Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social) office near you.  Offices are located throughout Spain so finding your local office should not present a problem.

Once you have registered you will be issued with your social security number plus a certificate stating that you are entitled to access the National Healthcare system in Spain.

Step 2 – Your local health centre

Now that you have your permission to access the healthcare system plus your social security number, you need to go directly to your local health centre.

To find your local health centre, go to the map and click on your region. Here

At the healthcare centre you present your certificate and register with a doctor.  At this point, you request your healthcare TSI card (Tarjeta sanitaria individual).  You can choose to have this posted directly to your home address, or you can arrange to collect it.

Step 3 – SIP card

While at the healthcare centre you should request that they arrange for you to receive your SIP (Sistema d’Informació Poblacional) card.  This card is proof that you are legally registered and entitled to treatment under the National Healthcare system.  Keep this with all your important documents of better still keep it in your wallet so that it is always to hand.

**NOTE: Your SIP card must be presented each time you require medical attention or have a prescription filled at your local healthcare centre/clinic.

Private Healthcare Insurance in Spain

Healthcare system and Health Insurance in Spain

Private Healthcare Insurance in Spain for the local market is not as expensive as the same insurance in Britain, but your choice of health care hospitals will quite naturally be restricted to the private medical domain.

If you are not yet in Spain but planning to move there soon, it is a good idea to arrange for healthcare cover before you move, you can do this through a company regulated by the Financial Services authority as these companies are likely to be more accommodating should any payment dispute arise.

Insurance Brokers

Single-company brokers are the norm in Spain.  Single-company brokers are no more than agents selling a single company’s products so you will not be given the best overall product on offer.  You need to find a broker who is able to find a competitively priced product suited to your needs, in other words, a broker who has the ability to check multiple company products.

If you decide to rely on a broker be sure to ascertain what their commission is and before you buy check online directly with the insurance company to ensure that the commission added is not too high.

Simple terminology:

Insurance – Seguros

Policy  – póliza

You are referred to as the ‘subject’ (el subdito) on a policy.

As the receiver of a payment, you are termed the ‘beneficiary’ (beneficiario).

Private Health Insurance Companies in Spain

Private Health insurers for ex-pats

Adeslas – insures approximately one-third of the privately insured population in Spain.  The company covers a number of national hospitals and clinics throughout the country and provides high-quality health insurance products with options of basic medical services and/or specialist services including the dental cover, within Spain.

Aresa – This private health insurance company specialises in meeting the needs of expat residents in Spain.  This insurer has its own medical services centres in many of the main centres in Spain.

Asefa – Another leading Spanish Private health care insurer that offers various products specific to the needs of ex-pats resident in Spain. The have one of the best rates for health insurance among the different insurance companies. Unfortunately, the website is in Spanish so basic Spanish is necessary to navigate its pages.

ASSSA – a health insurer based in Spain that boasts of 80 years experience in health insurance and offers products aimed at the expat resident in Spain.  Its boasts multilingual staff at both its head office and branches throughout Spain.

AXA – a Multinational very reputable company that offers Global Insurance cover. Also Travel Insurance.  In Spain AXA enjoys a large portion of the private healthcare market and has in excess of 1200 employees and therefore a very strong distribution network.

AXA PPP International

BUPA International – a provider of Health Insurance specific to the needs of Expat residents of Spain.  It is also an excellent option for those who spend time in both Spain and their home country.  It offers individual and group policies to cover both Spain and the home country of the policyholder.

FiatC – A Spanish insurer based in Spain – they also offer the benefit of a health club which is included in their health insurance.  They state that they have a third of the privately insured Spanish population as their clients.  And that they guarantee that if you use their nominated facilities you will not be faced with additional costs.  However, the website is in Spanish with a rather confused English translation.

Sanitas – This health insurer is the sister company of BUPA.  It offers cover in Spain the UK and globally.  Policies for residents of Spain can be as low was €30. Cover for  Spain

AEGON – an international Insurance company originating in Denmark has combined with Santander bank to offer health insurance in Spain.  To access their policies you go through Santander bank.

Caser Seguros – Has more than 70 years’ experience in the Spanish Insurance market including Travel, health and dental cover.  They offer discounted rates on personal policies and have a very comprehensive website that offers translation into English which is clear and understandable.

DKV (DKVSeguros) – Based in Spain, This International company has an English website and offers a number of health insurance products.  It has branches throughout Spain which makes face-to-face discussions easy.  The website has a choice of languages including English.

MAPFRE Asistencia- A large and reputable International Insurer, however, its Websites are not encouraging – there is virtually no information available in English.  If you have some knowledge of Spanish then you might find what you are looking for.  They offer Personal Insurance products.

Cost of Private Health Insurance

We carried out a study to get a price comparison among the different health insurance companies mentioned above.   The quotation that we got for monthly insurance without copay (you want to be sure that the insurance you get is without copy, this way you want pay for any charges each time you visit the doctor) is the following:

Top 5 most inexpensive health insurance companies (without copay) for women aged 30

AXA 49 euros/month

Asefa 53 euros/month

Adeslas 56 euros/month

Sanitas 56 euros/month

FiatC 59 euros/month

Top 3 most inexpensive health insurance companies (without copay) for women aged 65

Sanitas 133 euros/month

Adeslas 151 euros/month

FiatC 154 euros/month

Who to contact in case of Emergency:

You may be lucky and get an English speaking operator, but just in case you don’t, it is a good idea to have a few important phrases in Spanish.

Useful phrases:

“I live at……..”                         Vivo en

“I need an ambulance.”         Necesito una ambulancia

For these calls you do not need an area code – just call direct.

All emergencies
Call 112

061 or 112

It’s a good idea to keep these numbers in your wallet.


Medication and Treatment – Where to go

You will recognise a pharmacy (farmacia) as it will have a green flashing cross outside the premises.

Spain has an abundance of pharmacies (farmacias) and they are not as strictly regulated as is the case in many other countries.  If you have a minor ailment pharmacists are sufficiently qualified to prescribe and dispense treatments without a doctor’s prescription and this includes antibiotic medications.  However, don’t disregard the need for a doctor if you are dealing with high temperatures or what could be a serious illness.

Medication in Spain is not as expensive as in the rest of Europe as Spain strictly regulates the cost of drugs.

Prescriptions:  even if you are registered and utilise the Spanish Healthcare Service you will be required to pay a portion of the cost of any prescription.  Your portion of the cost is calculated according to your income.

Income and portion % payable

The table below is as set out under Spanish law, but these can differ depending on the region so it is meant just as a rough guide.

€18,000 + per year     50% of the cost of the prescription

Less than €18,000      40%


€18,000 + per year                 10% with a maximum of €18 per month

Less than €18,000                  10% with a maximum of €8 per month

Read more: ‘How to move to Spain from UK’ »

Read more: ‘Driving in Spain : All you need to know’ »

Read more: ‘How to get Spanish Citizenship’ »

Read more: ‘Spain’s NIE number : All you need to know’ »

Read more: ‘How to find a job in Spain’ »

Read more: ‘How to start a business in Spain »

Opening a Bank Account in Spain

Opening a Bank Account in Spain
Opening a Bank Account in Spain

If you intend opening a business, studying, working or becoming a resident in Spain then it will be practical to open a bank account.  In fact, if you will be receiving payments and/or have outgoings then you should seriously consider opening a bank account.

Today opening a bank account in Spain is a fairly easy process compared to many other countries however there are still certain security issues you will be required to deal with.

Non-residents and residents

A non-resident – Typically those who spend a lot of time in Spain but who are resident in another country.  A person who spends fewer than 183 days per annum in Spain, anyone spending more than this number of days in the country is required to become a tax paying resident.

A resident – Those with a fixed address in Spain and who pay Spanish taxes.

Requirements to Open a Spanish Bank Account

  • Passport: OR National Identity Card as proof of identity.
  • Certificate of non-residency:  If you are a non-resident you will need to provide a certificate of non-residency or certificate de no residencia.  You can apply through a Spanish consulate or if in Spain you need to apply at your local police station.  If you apply within Spain the process should take about 10 days.  If your application is through a Spanish Consulate the process will take longer.  So be sure you apply for your certificate in plenty of time.
  • Resident’s card:  If you are a registered resident of Spain you will need to produce your resident’s card: your NIE. Card
  • NIE:  You need to apply for you Foreigner’s Identification Numbernumero de identification de extranjeros.
  • Certified documents:  As most of your documentation will not be in Spanish you will need to be a certified Spanish translations.
  • Proof of home address:  You can use a utility bill for this or a certified letter from your bank.
  • Proof of Employment status:  you will need a certified copy of your employment contract or unemployment documents.  If you are a student you will need your student card.

Bank Charges in Spain

Selecting a bank means you should really shop around as charges do differ according to the region as well as the institution.

Usually banks charge an annual fee for administering a current account (cuenta corriente) and can vary from €15 to €30 per annum.  You need to also check the charges for debit and credit cards (tarjeta de débito, tarjeta de crédito).  Also check on charges on savings accounts (cuenta de ahorros) and the cost of cheque books.

Many people are a little taken aback when they see the number of charges on items which back home are free so be aware that you will come across charges you are not familiar with.  Most ATMs carry withdrawal charges.

The major banks in Spain have websites but there are some whose pages are available in Spanish, but if you go through your search engine there is usually the option to translate the pages.  Banks in Spain fall into two categories:  Privately owned banks or bancos and those which are government owned or cajas, which literally translated means pay office, or pay desk).

When to open your Bank Account in Spain

If you are not already living in Spain it is advisable to open an account when you visit before your move, so that you are able to transfer funds ahead of your arrival.  Most property contracts including rentals require the name of your bank in Spain and details of your Spanish bank account.

Opening a Non-resident Bank account

You will need your NIE number at most banks, but there are some that allow you to open an account while your NIE application is being processed.  If you do not as yet have an NIE number you will need to present your passport to open an account.

Opening a Resident Bank account

Resident’s accounts offer slightly better commissions and fewer charges than Non-resident accounts but the difference is marginal.

Top Banks in Spain


  how to open a spanish bank account online

BBVA (Spanish pages only – search engine translation possible) – A traditional bricks and mortar bank – If you prefer to go the traditional route then BBVA and Sabadell have a good reputation among expats.

BBVA and Sabadell allow you to open your bank account while you residency application is in progress and both offer English service.

Banco de Sabadell

 Banco de Sabadell - list of spanish banks

Banco de Sabadell (website covers English plus 5 other languages)

Sabadell took over Lloyds Bank International in Spain, and they have an excellent reputation for helpful staff and for making the opening of an account easy and fast, especially as they offer a UK to Spain free and direct account for UK expats living in Spain, this is a Regular Transfer Plan account guarantees that any transfer of funds from the UK will be available to the customer within 3 days of transfer, and the good news is there are no charges for these money transfers.

Another product is their Prestige Care Account which does carry an annual charge but no further charges on transactions, credit cards or cheques and there are the options of internet and telephone banking.

If you would like your children to hold their own bank account they offer Free Banking for young people between the ages of 13 to 25.

Banco Santander

 santander spanish bank account

Banco Santander (Spanish only so search engine translation – but not a good option for transferring money from and external account)

Santander Internet Banking (in Spanish only)

Santander purchased an online bank – Patagon Internet Bank (Argentina) and changed the name to OpenBank.  This online banking option does offer a free account.  This ‘Cuenta Sin Nomina’ online account has no requirements in terms of deposit amount or minimum balance.

Another account type offered by OpenBank is the ‘Cuenta Nomina’ which offers a 1% cash back on any bills you pay through this account.

Interest on OpenBank accounts – No interest is paid on current accounts but savings accounts offer 2% interest on the first 3 months.

ATM withdrawals – there is no charge if you use the Santander named ATMs, but there is a charge if you withdraw from your account at another bank’s ATM.  As the charges change from time to time it is advisable to check on the charge.

ATM Deposits there is no limit on the number of free deposits at the Santander named ATMs.


ING Direct

open spanish bank account non resident

ING Direct – Free Online Banking in Spain

You will need to have basic Spanish to work with this website

ING-Direct has no bank charges and its online pages allow for online money transactions and you can view your balances.  There is a 24 hour helpline but in Spanish only.

Bank accounts:  There are three main options

  1. A Cuenta Naranja – current account, but this needs to be linked to another Spanish Bank where you have an account.  So transfers would be between the two banks, but money transactions from your cuenta naranja will save you bank charges and having to stand in a queue at the regular bank.
  2. A Cuenta Nómina – an independent, current account, but this requires you to deposit your salary (nómina) into this account.
  3. A Cuenta Sin Nomina – a current account for those who are self-employed.

ING- Direct website


banking hours spain

EVO – A competitor of ING this offers a great account option for young people with its Cuenta Joven and if you are over 28 then the Cuenta Intelligente.  Both can be opened with just a passport ID.

To open the Free EVO – Cuenta Intelligente account you will need to have a set amount that you deposit each month into the account and pay at least 5 bills a month from the account.

To open the Free EVO – Cuenta Joven account you need to be between 18 and 28 has the same benefits as the Cuenta Intelligente but no annual fee and no prescribed requirements as to deposit and payments.

In both cases there is a fee for closing the account.

Evo website is in Spanish but there is an English option for online banking.

Recommendations are that EVO is a great option for small amounts of Euros if you need to put it somewhere safe and be able to access your money easily at an ATM while you are in Spain.

Evo website


barclays spain banking

BARCLAYS 600 branches in Spain with English speakers available to help you in most branches.  Their online banking facility, with an English translation, is available 24hours a day.

Accounts with Barclays have a stipulated minimum balance after the first 6 months of a new account.

Barclays website



DEUTSCHE BANK – Barcelona.  Deutsche Banks has English speakers in most branches in Barcelona.  Their website offers English, French, German and Spanish and a bank locator.

Online and telephone banking are available in English

Deutshe Bank website


CitiBank spain

CitiBank España has a website in Spanish so basic Spanish is necessary, but they do have an English language log-in which leads to banking online in English, but you will have had to open your account first at the bank itself.

Citibank – offers two main accounts – A current and a savings account.

This bank also offers free international transfers from one Citibank to any other Citibank across 26 countries, but if you need to maintain the free facility you must maintain a minimum balance of €2,000.00 in your account.

Citibank website

Send Money to Spain

Moving money from an external account into Spain can be extremely costly, not only will you be charged bank fees to do so, but you will also be charged a commission on the exchange rate of Pounds Sterling to Euros as well as an administration charge of £25+.

If you want to avoid all these fees and charges then it is worth considering Money transfer companies as their fees are usually confined to a small administration fee, but watch out for their exchange rate.

Money transfers companies


Skrill open account logo

If only banking requirements are limited and will not be on a daily basis then Skrill provides a convenient alternative.  You can purchase a prepaid card linked to the account and you can choose from their four operating currencies, USD, EUR, PLN and GBD.

There are additional features offered to customers who use their card a lot and are considered to be high turnover clients. Such clients are offered premium membership and are then elevated to VIP status with additional services made available to them such as:  multi-currency accounts, a security token and loyalty points.

Skrill Website


Paypal spain logo

PayPal – You will need to open a PayPal account in a name other than the name of your account, but it must be a legal name – perhaps the name of your spouse or one of your children if they are over 18 or you can use the name of a trusted member of your extended family, or even that of a trusted friend.  The account is held in the name with a linked email address. Money can then be transferred to the PayPal registered email address of the account holder.  Then you yourself must open a PayPal account in your own name and register with your email address.

One of the PayPal accounts must then be linked to a current account in Spain. Money can then be paid into this account either direct from an external bank account or with a credit card.

PayPal website

Currencies Direct

Currencies Direct

Currencies Direct – offer competitive exchange rates and no fees or administration charges and their service is fast and efficient.  They have 11 offices in Spain so you can make arrangements with them face-to-face on the visit when you set up your Spanish bank account.

Currencies Direct allow for single one-off payments or regular payments.  You transfer your money to Currencies Direct stipulating the account in Spain the money is to be transferred to.  Currencies Direct then transfers the same amount from their account into your account in Spain – In this way Bank charges at home and in Spain are avoided.

Currencies Direct website

Avoid Credit Card Commissions/Charges in Spain

For people from the UK

My travel Cash – this gives you a prepaid option.  The card is used like any credit card the only difference is the money is already in place and you are not spending on credit, and there are no charges incurred when using it outside the UK.  It can also be used to withdraw cash from an ATM.  The card is chip and pin protected and a Lost/Stolen phone line.

There are no commissions or other charges.  If you buy online you get a discounted internet exchange rate which makes an online purchase well worthwhile.

How this works:  You buy a prepaid card.  You can buy is a specific currency or you can purchase a multi-currency card.  You choose the amount you want to prepay and order the card before you travel.  But be careful and check the exchange rate on the day you will be purchasing your card – you can find the prevailing exchange rate on the My Travel Cash website.

My Travel Cash website

Halifax Clarity – Ideal for travel, no charges for cash withdrawals but interest is charged even if the withdrawal is repaid in full.  There is no exchange rate fee.  There is a bonus payment into your card if you spend in excess of £300 per month.

Halifax Clarity website

How to buy property in Spain

Purchasing property in Spain

Your NIE number

Before you start searching for a property in Spain it is mandatory that you have an NIE number – this number is required for any financial transaction in excess of €3,000.00 (three thousand) as taxes are incurred and therefore you have to have a registered tax number.

If you start negotiating the purchase of a property on your own and have not yet applied for your NIE number you will find that any offer you make will not be taken seriously.  Having your NIE means that you have a bank account and are legally permitted to make a transaction and are in a position to pay a deposit when agreement is reached.

If you are not resident in Spain and as purchasing property in Spain incurs a number of taxes it is advisable that you engage the services of:

  1. A lawyer specialising in conveyancing – A Spanish Notary/solicitor.
  2. A Spanish qualified tax consultant or financial advisor in Spain.


Taxes applicable to purchase of property:

Official costs involved in purchasing a standing residential property which is being re-sold are in the region of 10 to 11%.  It the property is being sold for the first time then you can calculate around 12% if VAT is paid on the purchase price.  Plus lawyer’s fees which you will find vary according to the individual lawyer and the value of the property.

Transfer Tax:

I.T.P. is payable by the private buyer not a developer or someone who trades in resale of properties.  This includes the purchase of residences, commercial properties and garages.

If the property you purchase is bought at a price below the Government evaluation price then the I.T.P. is charged on the price calculated by the Government evaluation of its value.

Tax percentage applicable to values:

8% for any amount up to and including €400,000.  When a garage is purchased the percentage tax is on €30,000 except when the garage belongs to a dwelling and there are no more than two.

9% is payable on any amount between €400,000 and €700,000 and for garages between €30,000 and €50,000.

10% is applicable for any amount above €700,000 or for garages above €50,000.

VAT and Stamp Duty

If the purchase is from a developer, a promoter, or habitual trader and is a residence with an annexed garage 10% +1.5%

If the purchase is of a parcel of land or the first sale of a brand new commercial property and the purchase is from a developer, promoter, or habitual trader or a company:  21% +1.5%

Notary and Property Registry Fees

This is not fixed as the fees charged depend upon the complexity of the title deed as well as the property value.

Municipal Added Value Tax (Plus Valía)

This tax is usually the responsibility of the seller unless otherwise agreed. This is a tax levied by the town hall and is levied on property that has not changed hands in many years. The tax is based on the value of the property between the time of the first purchase and the present purchase.

Lawyer’s Fees

Lawyer’s fees are usually 1% of the selling price but this will depend on the individual lawyer and also on the purchase price of the property.

Going Ahead with a Purchase

Deciding on the amount to offer:  If you are to purchase your property through an Estate Agent should be able to give you useful information about the seller – i.e. if they are open to offers, if the sale is urgent etc.  If the seller is Mallorquin or German then there is no point in doing other than accepting the asking price.

This information will help you decided on how low you can go in making an offer.  Under normal circumstances when there is no urgency attached to a sale then making an offer that is unrealistically low will just waste time and put the seller off, and they may decide not to consider any further offers from you.

Making your offer:  It is a good idea to get advice from your agent/lawyer, but it is a good idea to include a requirement of a formal survey and valuation, although this is an extra cost it will save you a lot of heartache should there be anything wrong with the property which is not patently obvious under normal viewing circumstances.

Verbal Offer:

At this point it is important that you have appointed your own lawyer as you need to know if there are any legal issues attached to the property such as:  tenure, debt, and ownership.

Make a verbal offer with a proposal of how the purchase is to proceed i.e. that you need a survey done, that should there be any legal issues (above), that your offer will have to be re-considered.

Your offer in writing:

Option to Purchase:  An ‘Opción de Compra’  or Purchase option should then follow the agreed verbal offer.  This is a written contract which outlines the terms and conditions of the sale and is signed by the seller and the purchaser.  This document will confirm that the purchase will be as per the agreed verbal offer.

The Opción de Compra should include:

  • The full names of both purchaser and seller as well as ID information and valid present addresses of both parties.
  • Legal description: A full description of the land size, the building’s size and any rights of way that are on the property.
  • The property’s registry and title deed number. This can be checked to ensure seller is the owner of the property free of liens or any encumberances – (tenants etc.).
  • Its rates number.
  • The agreed price and form of payment.
  • The agreed deposit amount. When it is to be paid. Who is to hold the deposit and under what conditions.  Usually 10% of the purchase price.
  • The date set for the completion of the purchase. Usually 30 to 60 days after payment of the deposit.
  • Conditions of the sale – i.e. penalties for a broken contract.
  • If the seller has engaged the services of an agent then the commission payable by the seller must be stated on this Option to Purchase.
  • Clause stating that the sale is subject to a survey.

Properties not yet completed:

LAW 38/1999: states that all payment due during the construction of the residence must be guaranteed by either a bank or insurance company.  It also states that should completion be delayed, i.e. not completed on the date stated in the contract you, the purchaser, have the right to reclaim any payments made plus the legal interest.  There is also a law which requires the developer to hold insurance for a further period of 10 years whereby the purchaser is covered should any construction defects come to light during the 10 years following completion.

On completion of Purchase:

On completion: The seller issues the Public Deed of Conveyance (escritura) to the purchaser which must be free of liens or any encumberances.  The title deed is issued to your Spanish Notary who will then submit the deed to the tax office to be assessed for Transfer Tax, or for Stamp duty if it is a sale direct from a developer.

The deed is then submitted to the Property Registry.  A provisional inscription is made as soon as the title deed is issued.

How to get a Mortgage in Spain

Mortgage Rates
How to get a Mortgage in Spain

Differences between the UK and Spain

The Notary System

In Spain, everything in respect of property and loans must be signed by a Notary.

 Costs and Interest rates

(allow 12% of the purchase price to cover all costs)

In Spain the entry level costs are much higher than in other European countries these are usually between 3.5 and 4% of the amount borrowed.

Deed Duty:  1.8% of the loan

Bank Fees:   a to 1.5% of the loan – payable on completion

Notary Fees:  a maximum of 0.5% of the value of the loan

Valuation fee:  0.1% of the value of the property plus any fee you agree to pay your mortgage broker.

Costs deducted from your gross mortgage in advance

  • Mortgage tax
  • Registry costs
  • Purchase deed costs

Loans based on property value – LTV (Loan to Value)

In Spain, any loan for the purchase of property is based on the value of the property not on the selling price, and cannot exceed the price declared on the Title Deeds (Escritura).

Non-resident LTV (Loan to value) loans may not be in excess of 70% of the value of the property.  This means that you will 30% of the value of the property for your mortgage application to be successful.

Mortgage Rates

In Spain, Mortgages are linked to a variable rate and the basis of the repayment.  The rate is linked the annual Euribor (European inter-bank offered rate) and interest rates are reviewed annually.  At the completion of a mortgage, the rate is determined by the Euribor of the month of completion, plus the fixed rate margin as set by your bank.

Off-shore banks:  Offshore banks offer sterling loads against a property purchased linked to the Bank of English base rate.

Fixed rates: Many banks in Spain now offer long-term fixed rate mortgages over periods up to 30 years, but be aware that fixed rates are usually higher than the variable rate, although they do offer you some security in times of high inflation.

Mortgage periods

In Spain, the term of any mortgage can range from 5 to 40 years depending on the age of the applicant and the finance provider, but normally the expectation is that payment will be completed by the age of 70 although there are incidences of 80 years having been accepted.

Underwriting Criteria – Spanish Banks

All liabilities in both Spain and the UK are assessed and are not permitted to exceed 33% of your proven monthly net income.   Should you have a rental return from the property this may be taken into account in some cases but it is not the norm.

Mortgage Brokers in Spain

Unless you have a good relationship with a Spanish bank it is wise to engage the services of a top Spanish mortgage broker, as they know the market as well as which banks offer the best mortgage product and the best rates.  Although this will mean extra expense in terms of the fees your broker will charge, in the long run, it will take a headache out of the whole process and even save you money.

Nota Simple

This document issued by the Spanish Property Registry is a detailed description of the property for sale and includes:

  • the current owner’s information
  • details of any existing debts against the property
  • details of the property boundaries
  • the classification of the property i.e. commercial, residential, farmland, developable.

Mortgages for non-residents in Spain

Mortgage Application form : How to get a Mortgage in Spain
Mortgage Application form : How to get a Mortgage in Spain

Documents required when applying for a mortgage

  1. NIE number – This is a tax identification number. As a resident, this will already be among your documents.  However, if you are a non-resident, purchasing a property in Spain means you will be liable for Spanish tax.

Non-resident Property Tax:   25% of the calculated initial 2% of the value of the property.

  1. Verifiable proof of income: Usually payslips covering the last 3 months
  2. Bank statements covering the past 3 months that show the deposit on monthly income.
  3. Your last P60 – tax return
  4. A valid copy of your passport
  5. A reference for your bank in the UK
  6. Your Employment contract – if applicable
  7. Self Employed applicants need to a set of their company accounts
  8. A copy of your credit status/personal credit report

How to Become a Resident of Spain

How to start a business in Spain
How to start a business in Spain


All citizens from countries outside the EU or EEA are required to apply for a Residence Permit which is initially for one year, renewable to for 5 years.

Temporary Residence is required if you are a non-EU citizen and wish to remain in Spain for longer than 3 months but not more than 1 year.

Why should you register?

Spain does not have a centralised government and therefore each province is responsible for its own budget, which means that it is important for each province to know the number of people living in their region.  The more people living in a province the more likely the province is to benefit from government funding for infrastructure improvements and roads. So it is important for the region to track the population, and by registering you become visible and therefore count in a government census.

Where to register

Before you leave for Spain:

If you wish to register from your home country before residing in Spain then you can apply for an appointment at your nearest Spanish Consulate or Embassy.  The same documentation is required as those applying from within Spain.

Applying within Spain:

You need to complete an application form which is available at your local Police station’s Foreigner’s Office or you can download the form here EX -18. Solicitud de certificado de registro de residencia comunitaria

If you are worried about filling in the form yourself, you can engage the services of a Gestor (person who knows his way around all the intricacies of Spanish administration and bureaucracy), but of course, a Gestor will charge a fee.

Required documents

  • Current passport and a photocopy of the front page plus photo page
  • 2 recent passport photographs (write your name as shown in your passport, on the back)
  • EX-18 application form plus 3 photocopies of the completed and signed form
  • A form 790 completed and signed by your bank – this is to confirm that you have a Spanish bank account and that you have the required amount of money in your account. The form is available at your local Police station.  Cost €10.60 (2016)
  • A Padrón certificate (Expadronamiento) no older than 3 months – this is issued when you register on the Padrón at your local Town Hall, which you should have done immediately you moved to the area.
  • A medical certificate to show that you are in good health (physical and mental).

If a member of your family has residency:

  • Your Libro de Familia and residency card of the family member
  • Expadronamiento ( Padrón certificate) of the family member
  • Proof of medical insurance

If you are employed in Spain:

  • A Vida Laboral plus photocopy (these are your work records)

If you are self-employed in Spain:

  • All the documents you received when you registered for self-employment plus your Vida Laboral (plus photocopy)
  • A bank statement in which you pension is mentioned

If you are self-supporting:

  • Proof of adequate finances
  • Proof of medical insurance with a company licenced to operate in Spain OR proof of medical cover in your home country.


Your application – Step by Step Guide

Step 1

Once you have moved into a property in Spain you need to register on the Padrón at your local Town Hall – This is the registry of those living in a particular municipal area.  You will need your passport and, if you have it your NIE number.  You will receive a Certificado de Empadronamiento.

Step 2

Healthcare – You need to ensure that you have the correct healthcare documents:

To apply for your residence card you need to show that you have healthcare cover i.e. if you are from the UK you will need a stamped copy of the INSS form S1.


Proof of a valid health insurance with a company licenced to operate in Spain and proof that you have committed to paying premiums for the next 12 months.

Note:  An EHIC is not accepted in Spain

Step 3

Check that your passport is valid for the next 5 years, or that you have proof that renewal is in progress.

Step 4

Your Bank – get a statement Certificado Bancario from your bank certifying that the amount required for residency is, and has been, in your bank account for the past 3 months.

Step 5

If you do not yet have an NIE number then you will need a proof of address. This can be your rental contract, Copia Simple (proof of offer to purchase a property) or Escritura (copy of the purchase agreement)

Step 6

Make copies of your passport both front page and photo page.

Make photocopies of all your documents

Step 7

Download the EX-18 form and complete and sign it.

Step 8

Make an appointment with the Police Station’s Foreigner’s Office (Oficina Extranjeros) to submit your documents.  An official at the Foreigner’s Office will be issue you with another form which you need to take to a local bank.  You will need Euros as the bank will charge between 15 and 20€ to complete and sign the form.

Step 9

Return to the Police Station’ Oficina Extranjeros with the stamped form plus all your documentation and photocopies.  Once these are submitted to the official on duty you will be issued with your Residence Card on the spot – Your Residence Card will also include your NIE number.


Non-EU citizens

Non – EU citizens must renew their Residence Permit every 5 years.  You should make a note of the expiry date to ensure that you apply for your renewal around 3 months prior to expiry.

Renewing your Residence Permit

To renew your residencia you will need the following documents

  • 2 passport photos (recent)
  • Original tarjeta de residencia and one photocopy
  • Passport plus a photocopy of the front page and photo page
  • Relevant completed application form with three photocopies
  • Proof that your address/ job has not changed
  • A medical certificate

As requirements can differ according to region, and because they may have changed during the past 5 years it is a good idea to check with your local oficina de extranjeros as to documentation required and the procedure.

How to start a business in Spain

Registering a business in Spain

Starting a business in Spain is not difficult but the paperwork can be time consuming and frustrating.  If you do not have time to do all the paperwork yourself it is advisable to employ the services of a credible legal firm to do this on your behalf.  Of course employing a firm of business lawyers in Spain, to see you through the whole process can be costly, but in the long run could save you money, frustration and time.

AS any operating business deals in financial transactions anyone wishing to set up/register a business in Spain whether resident and non-resident, EU citizen and Non-EU citizen must have an NIE number. Read more: ‘How to Get a NIE’ »

Types of business structures in Spain

  • Sole Trader/Sole Proprietor (Empresario Individual or Autónomo)
  • Partnership (Sociodad Civil)
  • Co- Ownership (Comunidad de Bienes/CB)
  • Limited Liability Company (Sociedad Limitada/SL, OR Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada/SRL)
  • Public Limited Company (Sociedad Anonima/SA)
  • New Enterprise Limited Company (Sociedad Limitada Nueva Empresa/SLNE)
How to start a business in Spain
How to start a business in Spain

Documents for new enterprises

Once you have decided on the appropriate business structure you should then ensure that you are aware of the legal requirements in registering your business.

Step 1 – Certificate of Uniqueness (no-name coincidence certificate)

You must apply for a Certificate of Uniqueness (Certificación Negativa de la Denominación Social) – This is to prove that the name of your company has not been already taken by another enterprise and to ensure that no-one else duplicates your name for their enterprise.  This will cost a small fee and is available from the Central Commercial Registry (Registro Mercantil Central) Their website provides a platform for all the necessary procedures to be performed online – at the top right of the home page there is the option to follow the whole website in English (Inglés):

Step 2 – Bank Account

You are required to obtain a ‘deposit certificate’ from the Spanish bank where you have deposited your business capital– The type of account will depend on the type of company.

Step 3 – Public Deed of Incorporation

This must be done through a Notary.  The Public Deed of Incorporation will include:

  • The shareholder names
  • The number of shares each shareholder holds
  • The identity of the administrators
  • The identity of the directors
  • The type of management administering the company
  • The NIE number of each shareholder
  • The bank deposit certificate
  • The Certificate of Uniqueness

Step 4 – CIF

(Company Tax Identification Code – Codigo de Identificacion Fiscal/ CIF)

It is mandatory that you apply for this Company Identification number within 6 months

Application for a CIF must be done at the Tax Office (Delegación de Hacienda) usually in the same province where the company will operate.  You will be issued with a provisional number immediately.

Step 5 – Transfer tax and Stamp Duty

(Impuesto de Transmisiones Patrimoniales y Actos Jurídicos Documentados)

Within 30 Days of the Deep of Incorporation – the cost will be 1% of the company capital share.   You will need to present:

  • The Deed of Incorporation
  • The CIF
  • No stamp duty is payable for companies in the Canary Islands.

Registering your Company

You must register your company within 2 months of the date of the granting of the Public Deed of Incorporation.

The cost of registering a company varies according to the amount of capital invested and the number of shareholders.

Entities which must register

  • Individual entrepreneurs
  • Commercial undertakings
  • Non-profit making organisations
  • Credit and insurance entities and mutual guarantee companies.
  • Collective investment undertakings
  • Economic interest groups
  • Savings banks
  • Pension funds
  • Branches of any of the above
  • Branches of foreign firms
  • Foreign firms which move their registered headquarters to Spanish territory
  • All undertakings which carry on a commercial activity, provided that the figures for purchases made or brokered, or the sales figures, exceed EUR 600 000.


To register your company:

  • Any company operating within Spain are required to keep a log book: Details of the Company, the work place/premises and the type of business activity – This book must be up-to-date and be available for inspection at any time. The book is required by The Labour and Social Security Inspectorate.
  • Any foreign investments used to set up a business in Spain has to be declared on the Spanish Investments Register (Registro de Inversiones).


Procedure and documentation

Step 1  – Declaración Censal de Inicio de Actividad

A Formal Declaration to Start Company Activity, This is filed at the local Tax Office. (Declaración de Hacienda)

Step 2 – Register for Tax

You need to register your company for tax at the local Tax Office.

You will need:

  • A comprehensive description of the type of business activity the company will be engage in
  • A Comprehensive description of the business premises
  • The date business activity is to commence

Once all the relevant paperwork has been submitted to the Tax Office your company will be allocated an official tax number/activity code.

Step 3 – Legalise the Company Books

There are two statutory Company Books in Spain which must be submitted to the Central Commercial Registry to be certified and stamped before the commencement of business.

  • A Minutes book
  • VAT (IVA) register books

Step 4 – Opening Licence

A licence to open for business (Licencia Municipal de Apertura) is required and can be obtained from the Town Hall.  The cost depends on the business activity, area and district in which the business will operate.

You will need only submit:  The Public Deed of Incorporation

Step 5 – Regional Work Authorities Notification

Before your company can open for business you must notify the Regional Work Authorities (Delegación Provincial de la Consejería de Tabajo de Industria) of your intention to do so.


The Sole Trader: (Autónomos)

  • NIE number is your first requirement – Non-EU citizens will also need to apply for a combined self-employment work and residence visa at the same time.

As a sole-trader you are self-employed and therefore regardless of your nationality you will need to:

  1. Register to pay IAE – Tax on Business Activity (Impuesto de Actividades Económicas)
  2. Register a declaration for starting a business at the tax office. (Declaration Censal de Inicio de Actividad).
  3. Register for social security within 30 days of your registration for IAE – Once done you will have to make monthly payments into RETA (Régimen Especial de Trabajadores Autónomos) – This must be paid regardless of whether the registered person as an income or is on sick or maternity leave:

A Partnership: (Sociodad Civil)

This applies to 2 or more persons and there is no minimum investment requirement.  All debts and/or financial obligations are then equally shared among the partners of the entity.

To set up a partnership you will need :

  1. To sign a partnership agreement (contrato de constitución) – This requires the services of a notary. This is not compulsory however, it is wise to do so.  If an agreement is drawn up the words Sociedad Civil must be included in the company name.
  2. Register to pay IAE tax (Impuesto de Actividades Económicas).
  3. Register your Declaration for starting a business (Declaración Censal de Inicio de Actividad), at the local Tax Office (Delegación de Hacienda).
  4. Register for social security.
  5. If the business operates from business premises then you need to apply for an opening licence (Licencia Municipal de Apertura) at your local Town Hall.

Co-Ownership (Comunidad de Bienes)

A CB requires a partnership agreement (contrato de constitución) which must be drawn up by the members (comuneros).  The partnership agreement must stipulate the amount contributed by each co-owner – there is no minimum financial investment requirement.

To set up a co-ownership entity you will need to:

  1. Register to pay IAE tax (Impuesto de Actividades Económicas)
  2. Register a Declaration for starting a business (Declaración Censal de Inicio de Actividad), at the local Tax Office (Delegación de Hacienda)
  3. Register for social security
  4. If the entity is to operate from premises then the Co-Ownership must apply for an opening licence (Licencia Municipal de Apertura) at the local Town Hall.


A Limited Liability Company

(Sociedad Limitada/SL, OR Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada/SRL)

Requires at least 1 shareholder and has a minimum starting capital of €3,000.00 – Liability is limited to the amount of capital contributed.

The executive managing body of a Limited Liability Company consists of one or more directors who do not necessarily need to be shareholders or Spanish nationals and has the authority to appoint or remove any director of the S.L. at any time.  Management is carried out at the shareholders’ meetings.

A Limited Liability Company must include the words sociedad limitada in its name, and must be registered with Spain’s Trade Register.

To register a Limited Liability Company in Spain you need to:

  • To ensure you have an NIE number (Foreigner’s tax idenitification number)
  • No-name Coincidence Certificate – register the company name
  • CIF (Company Tax Identification Code – Codigo de Identificacion Fiscal/ CIF)
  • Proof of a deposit of minimum share capital of €3000.00 in the company bank account
  • The prepared company constitution
  • The Deed of Incorporation including your appointment as a founding administrator/director of the company – this must be done through a notary, and you will need:
    • Tax form 036
    • Your CIF
    • Your NIE Number
    • Evidence of your share capital paid to the bank
  • Register the Deed of Incorporation with the Local Government Tax Authority (AEAT)
  • Register the Deed of Incorporation on the Spanish Register of Limited Companies at the Registro Mercantil. This will take approximately 15 days. Your Deed will now also bear a certificate of registration.
  • Register the company for social security
  • All Limited companies pay Corporate Income Tax (Impuesto sobre Sociedades).


New Enterprise Limited Company (Sociedad Limitada Nueva Empresa/SLNE)

This a simpler version of the Limited Laibility Company although there must be between 1 to 5 founders or shareholders, but the main difference is in the requirements for naming the company.  The law stipulates that the company name include the words Sociadad Limitada Neuva Empresa (SLNE).

The available investment must be between €3000,00 and €120,000.00 and all requirements for setting up and registering the company are the same as the Limited Liability Company.

  • All Limited companies pay Corporate Income Tax (Impuesto sobre Sociedades).

How to Bring a Pet to Spain

Bringing a pet to Spain is fairly straightforward although once again there are specific documents and procedures that you need to go through.

Pet Travel - Moving Pets to Spain
Pet Travel – Moving Pets to Spain

EU  Citizens – Bringing a pet to Spain

If you are an EU citizen and have a beloved pet you do not wish to leave behind you need a pet passport.

UK – Pet passports:  Pet passports are issued only by Local Veterinary Inspectors (LVI) not your local vet, although your vet can assist you in this.

 Pet Passports – other EU Countries:  Pet passports can be issued by your local veterinarian if he/she is registered.

Requirements for a pet passport: 

  • Microchip or tattoo that identifies your pet.
  • Valid rabies vaccination not more than 3 months before travelling
  • All records of vaccinations and clinical examinations including tick and tapeworm treatments.

The pet passport:

The EU pet passport provides the following information:

  1. The name and address of the owner
  2. A description of the pet its breed, sex, age and colour.
  3. The microchip number
  4. Dates of vaccinations and validity as well as the expiry date/s with the name of the manufacturer of the vaccine/s and the production number/s.
  5. Address and signature of the veterinarian.


Spain’s pet immigration rules – EU and Non-EU citizens

Bringing a pet to Spain
Bringing a pet to Spain

Your pet’s ISO pet microchip plus vaccinations including rabies must have been done not longer than 12 months before the date of travel and no later than 21 days before the date of travel.

The Microchip:

If your pet’s microchip is not ISO 11784/11785 compliant you will have to arrange to bring your own microchip scanner with you, or you can have the microchip replaced with one that is compliant.

All valid vaccinations must have been done after the microchip was inserted.  If the microchip was inserted after the vaccinations were done then you are required to re-vaccinate your pet.

Annex II for Spain Form

EU-Citizens UK: This must be a bi-lingual version completed by an RCVS accredited veterinarian and endorsed by the RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons)

EU- citizens and EEA citizens: – require the same Annex II document signed by a veterinarian accredited by the Governing Body of veterinary qualifications for their country and endorsed by the same Governing Body.

Non – EU citizens – America & Canada:  require a bilingual version of the Annex II signed by a USDA or CFIA accredited veterinarian and endorsed by the same body.  Your veterinarian must also complete an Annex IV form.

Rabies prevalent Countries:   If you are bringing your pet into Spain from a country with a high incidence of rabies your pet will required a Blood Titer Test – This should be carried out one month after vaccination and no later than 3 months before the date of travel.

You can check if your country is considered to be a high rabies incidence country on the pettravel website.

Puppies and Kittens:

If your pet is under 3 months of age they are permitted but there are additional regulations.

All puppy/kitten vaccinations must have been done and the puppy/kitten must be old enough to have had its first rabies vaccination – 3 – 4 months and the vaccination must have been done at least 30 days before travel.  This may mean that your puppy has to wait in quarantine until such time as it is old enough to enter Spain with the correct vaccinations in place.

To enter Spain with your puppy your puppy must have:

  • A Healthcare certificate, (Certificado de Origen y Sanidad)
  • A microchip
  • All vaccinations plus Rabies

Spain’s restricted dog breeds:

There are certain breeds of dogs which Spain considers aggressive by nature and after several serious incidents the Spanish Government introduced very strict regulations governing the ownership of what it sees as dangerous breeds.

Dangerous breeds:

  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Akita
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brasileiro
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Pit Bull
  • Rottweiler
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • No specific breed but has the following characteristics:
    • Strong and powerful appearance
    • Strong character
    • Short hair
    • Shoulder height between 50 and 70cm with weight over 20kgs (44lbs)
    • Square and robust head with large jaws
    • Wide short neck
    • Broad deep chest
    • Robust fore legs
    • Muscular hind legs

If your dog falls under any of these breeds or has any of these characteristics then you will have to apply for a special licence to import to and own such a dog in Spain.

In the UK a licence can be applied for from your local council.  But be aware that once you have the licence you will be required to keep your dog muzzled and when outside of your property the dog must be kept on a leash no more than 2m in length.

Dangerous dog licence requirements:

  • The owner must be over 18 year of age
  • The owner may not have a criminal record
  • The owner must undergo psychological and physical tests
  • The owner must hold third party insurance of no less than €120,000

Pet insurance:

A good idea before your pet travels to Spain is to ensure that you have pet insurance.  This is not obligatory and is purely at the owner’s discretion.

For full information on traveling with your pet or sending your pet with an animal transporter is available on:  Pettravel

Renting a property in Spain

How To Rent a Property In Spain
How To Rent a Property In Spain

How To Rent a Property In Spain

Renting a house or apartment in Spain is often the chosen option for expats moving to Spain as renting a property is a good way to start out in a new environment.  Renting gives you time to settle into the new culture, as well as giving you time to get to know a Region, town or city while perhaps house hunting for something more permanent.  Also, property rentals do not impose any restrictions on foreigners whether or not they are residents of Spain.

However, it is important to note that once you have found a property that you wish to lease you will also need services and utilities, which means having a bank account and making financial transactions.  In order to do any of these, you will need an NIE number, (TIE card).

Finding a rental property

Although the property market in Spain concentrates mainly on sales, there is a healthy rental market and rentals are not high, although of course the price depends on the location as well as size and type of property.

Finding a rental property before you leave your home country can be done on the internet, and there are some estate agents (immobiliarias) listed on estate agent websites based in countries outside Spain. However, most of these target the tourist market and holiday rentals.  If you are searching on the internet it is a good idea to include the term ‘long-term’ in your rental search.

Estate Agents – Qualifications

When searching for a rental property in Spain, as in many countries, it is usual to employ the services of an estate agent, but beware: estate agents are not regulated in Spain.  To avoid falling into the hands of disreputable agents and ensure you are dealing with a professional and knowledgeable agent, choose one that is a member of a professional association or even better a member of an International organisation.  By going to the association websites you will be able to link directly to the websites of approved member estate agents.

Spanish Estate Agent organisations:

  1. Agente de Propiedad Inmobiliaria (API)
  2. Gestor Intermediario en Promociones de Edificiones

International Estate Agent Associations:

  1. The International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI)

Estate agent commission and fees

Renting a property in Spain through the services of an Estate Agent means that you will incur costs.  Although once you have found a rental property thereafter agent fees are covered by the property owner, you will have to pay for the agent’s services in finding you a suitable property.  This could amount to around €250 or the amount of the first month’s rent.  Be sure to establish the fee before you engage an agent’s services to avoid being unpleasantly surprised.

Typical Estate Agent Scams in Spain

  • Asking for a deposit before the lease is signed by both parties
  • Inflating the rental and pocketing the difference
  • Properties falsely advertised by people posing as the owners – The property is not in fact owned by the person advertising. Be sure to get a fixed line telephone number and check the address and name of the person/s with that number through a directory.  Test the number.

Avoid making payments to an agent through a website as in the recent past, some websites have been hacked and payments diverted, so neither the owner nor the agent is aware that a payment has been made, and you lose out.  Not only is there no agreement but your deposit money has disappeared.

Do not send money by Western Union, Money Gram, cashier’s cheque, money order. These will not be traceable.

Only after the finalisation of your lease should any financial transaction take place.  Make sure that transactions go to a Bona Fide account, preferably bank to bank.

If an agent requests copies of ID/passport prior to finalisation beware: this is not necessary until a contract has been formally signed and notarized.

Long-term rental property – Advertisements

Rental properties are usually advertised with a monthly rental, stating the square meterage of the living space.  As with property rentals anywhere, the advert should state whether the property is available furnished or unfurnished – but again beware: some properties advertised as furnished may not be fully furnished, but just contain a few odd bits of furniture and may not have such items as fridge and/or stove.

If you view a property with the tenant still in residence be sure you clarify what belongs to the tenant and what items are included in the rental.  If you are not able to view in person, be sure you have a list of items included from your estate agent.

Extra running costs:  Heating

If you are to move to a region where winters are cold and heating is required be sure to ask for the Energy Efficiency Certificate relevant to the property you are renting.  This certificate is required by law in Spain.  If one is not available then you know that your heating costs will be high.

Agreement to lease

Now that you have found a promising property that you are happy to rent, you will have to pay a deposit usually one month’s rent, but it can be as much as two month’s rent and cannot be used to pay rent.  The deposit is held in trust by either the agent or the owner until the end of your lease i.e. when you leave the property.  The agent’s fee as previously agreed, for finding a suitable rental for you, is usually also paid at this time.

Once everything has been agreed –ensure that all agreements are in writing.  When the final lease is to be signed you will be asked to provide the following documents:

  • Evidence of employment and/or financial ability to meet the rental amount
  • Your NIE number (TIE card)
  • Passport or ID document (a photocopy)
  • Personal references –(Certified Spanish translations)

The Agreement (contrato de arrendamiento)

When renting a property it is unwise to enter into a verbal agreement, so ensure that each step, in reaching your agreement, is documented, and make sure that you fully understand everything on any documents that you are required to sign.

Escape Clause

Should there be a chance of being transferred by your company at short notice, and you are signing a lease for a period longer than 6 months it is a good idea to include an escape clause in your lease.

Renewal of contract

It is usual for long-term contracts to allow for renewal annually for up to a period of 3 years, unless the landlord states. right at the start, that the lease will end at the end of the period agreed.

Many contracts now are for a period of 6 months and thereafter are on a roll-on month to month basis, however if you have signed a 12 month contract and find that you have been unexpectedly transferred by your company you can expect to be compelled to pay the rent for the entire period remaining on your lease, unless the lease has included an escape clause.

Refurbishments and improvements

If the property is improved during your tenancy the landlord is permitted to increase your rent accordingly, but the improvements must be shown to have met approved standards and the increase is not more than 20% of the total rental.

Long-term rental costs

  • Deposit – equivalent to one or two month’s rental (not to be used to pay rent).
  • One month’s rent payable in advance. Payment usually before the 1st or 2nd of each month.  You landlord may request a Bank Guarantee. (This means that if you fail to pay your rent the landlord can apply for payment direct from your bank.)
  • Payment for utilities and minor repairs (these cover wear and tear).
  • Payment of monthly or annual levies for maintenance of communal areas and garbage collection.

Note:  As you, the tenant are responsible for maintenance costs of normal wear and tear, it is vital that you take a full inventory of any snags i.e. things in need of repair before you move in.  Therefore immediately on occupation you should draw up a snag list.  Similarly you should organise for a leaving inspection 2 to 3 weeks before the agreed date to vacate.  This will give you time to do any required repairs before you leave.  Leaving this up to the agent or owner, could lead to unwarranted repairs being carried out covering all of your deposit and you will get nothing back.

Your Deposit

The landlord is not compelled by law to return your deposit on the date that you hand over the keys to the property.  By law he/she has the right to retain your deposit for a full month after you leave.  Should your landlord hold on to your deposit for longer than the legal period of one month, the landlord must pay interest on the deposit amount.

Tenant Rights

Renting a property in Spain means that you as a tenant have the law on your side as the laws in Spain are strongly in favour of the tenant.

Landlords cannot easily evict a tenant as the law grinds slowly in Spain and therefore court proceedings take an excessively long time to either begin or reach a final conclusion.  Unpaid rent does not entitle the landlord to evict a tenant until such time as the rent has remained unpaid for a period not less than 6 weeks – this period was previously 6 months but was amended to 6 weeks in 2013.


Landlords are not permitted to shut down utilities, change the locks, or otherwise restrict the tenant’s access to the property.


Landlords can be charged with trespass if they enter the property without the tenant’s permission.

Bankruptcy and your Landlord

Should the property you are renting be repossessed by the bank, during the period of your lease, your right to remain in the properties does not change.  The bank can re-sell the property during your occupancy and you will then be subject to a new landlord, who has the right to request you to vacate.  However you are not forced to agree.

A new landlord is legally permitted to offer you a financial settlement to encourage you to vacate the premises.  You can choose to accept or not – the landlord may not force you to accept.

Short-term rentals – Holiday rentals

Renting a property short-term covers any rental under 12 months duration.  These rentals are regulated and must be legally licenced.

High season rentals (Summer, school holidays, and Christmas) – You need to search for these well in advance as because of high demand they are in short supply the nearer you get to the season.

As a short-term tenant you must vacate the premises at the end of your contract (contrato de arrendamiento de temporada).  If you wish to remain a new contract must be agreed before the end of the present contract.


Read more: ‘How to move to Spain from UK’ »

Read more: ‘Driving in Spain : All you need to know’ »

Read more: ‘How to get Spanish Citizenship’ »

Read more: ‘Spain’s NIE number : All you need to know’ »

Read more: ‘How to find a job in Spain’ »

How to get Spanish Citizenship

How to get Spanish Citizenship
How to get Spanish Citizenship – All You Need to Know

In order to get Spanish Citizenship you are required by law to have residence visa first.

To become a permanent resident (long-term resident) you need to have lived in Spain for 5 years.

Only after 10 years can you apply to become a naturalized Spanish citizen and be regarded as being of Spanish nationality and so have the same rights as a born Spaniard.

Spanish citizenship by Naturalization is only conferred by the Spanish Government and at their discretion.

Spanish Citizenship by Naturalization:

You can request to become a Spanish national after a period of continuous legal residence for:

  • A period of ten years
  • Five years if you are a refugee


  • A period of two years if you are a national of an Ibero-American country, Andorra, Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal.
    • Naturalised citizens of an Ibero-American country, Andorra, Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal the 10 year residence in Spain requirement still applies.


  • One year if you –
    • Were born in a Spanish territory
    • did not exercise your right to your nationality by ‘Option’ within the given period.
    • have been under the legal guardianship of a Spanish citizen of institution for two years.
    • have been married for one year to a Spanish national and are not legally separated or de facto separated.
    • are a widow/er of a Spanish national and if at the time of death were not legally separated or de facto separated.
    • If one of your parents or grandparents were of Spanish origin but you were not born in Spain.

Sephardic Jews are able to obtain Spanish nationality automatically by naturalization without a residency requirement according to a 2012 Government statute.  But applicants must provide Certification from the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain stating that you are of the Sephardi denomination.

If you are successful in becoming a Spanish citizen you will have to forfeit your original nationality and hold only a Spanish passport, and you will become a Spanish EU citizen with the right to vote in any EU election.

To ensure your Naturalization as a Spanish Citizen you must arrange for the formalities to be carried out at the Civil Registry of the place of residence.

You will be required to:

  • Swear allegiance/loyalty to the King of Spain
  • Swear to be obedient to the laws of Spain and its constitution
  • Declare that you renounce your former nationality (this does not apply if you are a national of any Ibero-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal).

Spanish Nationality by Option

Option is a benefit offered to foreigners under Spanish Government legislation.

You are eligible for Opting for Spanish Nationality:

  • if you are or have been subject to the parental authority of a Spaniard.
  • if your father or mother was Spanish and was born in Spain.
  • if your birth in Spain or parentage is determined (determination of parentage means establishing who a person’s parents are) after you turn eighteen years of age. In such a case, the deadline for opting for Spanish nationality is two years after your parentage or birth has been determined.
  • if you were adopted by Spaniards and the adoption took place after you turned 18 years of age. In such an instant your right to opt exists for two years after your adoption has been formalized.

Loss and Recovery of Spanish Nationality

If you have acquired nationality in Ibero-American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Portugal you do not lose Spanish nationality.

You can lose your Spanish Nationality when:

  • You are emancipated and live abroad and have voluntarily acquired another nationality. You can avoid such loss if, within 3 years you declare that you wish to remain a Spanish national.
  • You are emancipated and are the holder of another nationality, live permanently abroad and have renounced your Spanish nationality.
  • You are emancipated, live permanently abroad and for 3 years have used only the nationality you were assigned before emancipation. You can avoid loss of your Spanish nationality if you declare, within the 3 years that you wish to remain a Spanish national.
  • You were born outside Spain and have a Spanish parent who was also born abroad. You lose your Spanish nationality if within 3 years of emancipation or reaching your majority you do not declare that you wish to keep Spanish nationality.
  • You are a Spanish national through residence and not through origin. You will lose your Spanish nationality if:
    • You use the nationality you renounced on gaining Spanish nationality, for 3 years thereafter.
    • You voluntarily enter the armed forces or hold public office in a foreign territory despite it being prohibited by the Spanish Government.
    • There is a judgement against you that states that you have committed misrepresentation, concealment or fraud in gaining your Spanish nationality.


Any recovery of Spanish nationality must be recorded in the Civil Registry. 

In order to recover your Spanish nationality you must:

  • be a legal resident in Spain. This does not apply to emigrants or children of emigrants, but this may be waived by the Minister of Justice in exceptional circumstances only.
  • declare that it is your wish to recover your Spanish nationality before an Officer in charge of the Civil Registry.

Prior authorization from the Spanish Government is necessary in the recovery of nationality when you are not of Spanish origin and the following reasons pertain:

  • If you have exclusively used the nationality you renounced on gaining Spanish nationality for a period of 3 years.
  • If you voluntarily enter the armed forces or hold public office in a foreign territory despite it being prohibited by the Spanish Government.
  • If there is a judgement against you that states that you have committed misrepresentation, concealment or fraud in gaining your Spanish nationality.

Dual Nationality

Citizens of Latin American countries, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea and Portugal are not required to renounce their Spanish citizenship and dual nationality is bi-laterally recognized.

UK citizens

UK citizens:  Even though you are required to renounce your previous citizenship, you may not be permitted to do so by the UK, which means that you do hold two nationalities although not ‘dual nationality’ as there is no bilateral agreement between Spain and the UK.

US citizens

US citizens:  Spain does not recognise US citizenship, and the US does not allow its citizens to become non-US citizens, therefore, although you may renounce your US citizenship in order to gain Spanish nationality, you will still be considered a US citizen by the US.  This does not mean that you have ‘dual nationality’.

Citizens of other countries

Citizens of other countries: You will most likely lose your original citizenship on becoming a Spanish national, but if you wish to have dual nationality then you should consult a legal specialist in this area as they will be up-to-date regarding the laws on nationality, pertaining at the time of your enquiry.

Citizens with two passports

Citizens with two passports: Whenever possible you should use the passport of the country you are entering.


  • if you are entering Spain – use your Spanish passport;
  • if you are entering the country of your original nationality use the passport of that country.

EU permanent residence

If you are a permanent resident of the EU you can reside in Spain and retain you original nationality and passport.  However, if you want to continue to reside in Spain indefinitely, you will eventually have to relinquish your original EU residence and apply for a Spanish/EU long-term residence permit from the Foreigner’s Office (Oficina de extranjeros)

Non EU Nationals

If you hold a non-EU passport and do not have permanent residence within the EU then you will have to apply for either a long-term EU residence permit or a Spanish residence permit.  Spanish residence permits also provide EU residence.

If you wish to apply for permanent residence in Spain you will be required to reside in Spain for no less than 5 years before you apply.  Long-term residents of Spain can stay in the country indefinitely and are permitted to work under the same conditions as Spanish citizens.

This is also the first step to becoming a citizen of Spain with permanent residence in Spain.  To become a permanent resident and citizen of Spain, you will need to live in Spain for 10 years before you apply.

Non EU Nationals – holding Blue Cards

If you hold an EU Blue Card (EU work permit) you are permitted long-term residence in Spain as long as you have lived in Spain for 2 years.

The Blue Card

The Blue Card work permit is awarded to those who have a work contract with a salary 1.5 times the average gross annual salary paid by a Member State of the EU.  Blue Card holders have higher professional qualifications relevant to their work contract.

For more information:  immigration-residency

Long-term residence in Spain

To gain long-term residence in Spain you have to show proof that you have sufficient assets and income to provide for yourself and your dependents/family.  You will also need to show proof that your employer, or your business, provides you with adequate health insurance that is authorised to operate within Spain.  Health insurance can be either public or private.

Once you have long-term residence in Spain you can move within the EU and can spend periods of up to 3 months outside Spain.  If you need to stay in another member state for more than 3 months then you have to apply for permission to do so.

Permanent Residence Permit (Long-term)

This permit means that the holder lives and works in Spain with the same rights and obligations as Spaniards.

The period of 5 years of residence in Spain prior to application for permanent residence has to be continuous with no irregular exits from the country.

  • Disruption to continuity is not affected by:
  • Holidays outside Spain
  • Absence from Spain up to 6 months and not exceeding 1 year
  • Justified absence for health of family reasons

Applying without the first residence visa

It is possible to apply for a long-term residence permit with previously having held a residence visa only if you are one of the following:

  • You are married to a Spanish citizen
  • You have dependent Spanish children or minors.
  • You lost your Spanish nationality
  • You come from an area of war, political or ethnic upheaval/conflicts
  • Other specific cases are taken into consideration and may be granted residence

Read more: ‘How to move to Spain from UK’ »

Read more: ‘Driving in Spain : All you need to know’ »

Read more: ‘Renting a property in Spain’ »

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Read more: ‘How to find a job in Spain’ »

How to get a job in spain

How to Get a Spanish Work Permit


Spain has a vibrant and thriving culture with the economy to match.  A major European commercial hub, many non-Spanish companies are starting to set up international locations in Spain, and many international workers are looking for ways to gain work visas to Spain to take advantage of these exciting new work opportunities.  Applying for, and receiving a work and residence visa and a work permit are cumbersome processes, but simple to understand, and most permits and visas can be obtained relatively easily.

All non-European Union citizens will need to obtain a visa and a permit in order to work in Spain.  People who have an EU passport, however, and therefore also have EU citizenship do not need to obtain special permission from the Spanish government before taking an employee position with a company located in Spain.  Before a work permit can be obtained, a residence visa must be granted.  This can be done in the Spanish Consulate of your home country, before entry into Spain.  The purpose of your visit to Spain will dictate what kind of visa you receive, and common visa types include tourism, student, work, or investment visas.  However, if you are interested in getting a residence visa, you cannot come into Spain on another type of visa first, and then submit your application for a residence visa.  You will have to first return to your home country and then reapply.

Residence visas and residence permits require separate approvals, as they are different authorizations.  Permits can be obtained after a visa is granted.  Residence visas are initially granted for 1 year and can be extended for up to 2 more years, or 3 years total.  Permanent resident visas can also be obtained which are good for up to 5 years, and are typically granted for the purpose of reuniting a family, such as in a case where one spouse is a Spanish citizen and the other is not, or in cases where a person is seeking asylum.  Or, permanent resident visas can be granted when a foreigner needs to obtain a work permit.

Work and residence visas should be obtained before you move to Spain and intend to start working, and can be applied for at the Spanish consulate of your home country.  When you go to apply for your work permit, you should bring with your application:

  • A valid passport
  • Certificate of any criminal records that might be against you for the past 5 years in the country or countries you have been living in
  • An official medical certificate
  • Three passport-sized photographs
  • Your offer of employment from the business you intend to work for, including a description of the job you have been offered
  • The fiscal registration number (CIF or NIF) and the Social Security registration number for your intended employer

If you intend to run your own business in Spain, you will still need to bring all of the above, plus proof that you meet the professional qualifications and have the proper licenses to run your business in Spain.

In addition to there being separate types of visas, there are also different types of work permits available for work in Spain.  A Type A permit is valid for work during specific seasons, short-term contracts, or work in a specific geographic areas and are valid for up to 9 months.  A Type B permit is valid for a specific profession, activity, and geographic location for up to 1 year, or a renewed Type B can extend an initial Type B permit for up to 2 more years.  A Type C permit is issued after a renewed Type B expires, and is valid for any type of work, throughout Spain.  There are variations of all of the above types of permits for self-employment as well.

Upon your arrival to spain you must also obtain a NIE number ( How To Get a NIE Number ), at a local police station.  In case you are self employed you must also go the the Social Security office and register yourself with the Spanish Taxation office (Hacienda).  They will require a copy of your passport and NIE so be sure to take those with you.  If you are not self employed, then your employer will do this for you and you will automatically be registered into the Spanish Taxation system (Hacienda).

Living and working in Spain is an experience that can benefit you, and your professional endeavors greatly, and which can be made possible simply by submitting your application for the proper visa and work permit. ¡Esperamos que se una a nosotros!