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 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

Schooling in Spain – Finding a School and Enrolment

Schooling in Spain - Finding a School and Enrolment
Schooling in Spain

The Education System in Spain

If you have decided that your child is to attend a Spanish State school, before you leave the UK you will need to photocopy all your child/children’s exam certificates and have the photocopies certified.  A good idea is to have two of each exam certificate just to be on the safe side.

Any English documentation to be submitted for the purpose of enrolling your child in school will require a full Spanish translations of the original document.

The Spanish Education System:  Spain bases its education system on their Fundamental Law of Education (Ley Orgánica de Educación) which means that not only is education free but it is also compulsory for children from the age of 6 until 16 years of age.  In the secondary stage of education children are required to complete a School Leaving Certificate (ESO).  After this and if the child is over 16 the choice is open as to whether or not to continue to the equivalent of British A-levels (Bachillerato).  After successfully completing the Bachillerato pupils then have to sit another exam to see if they have reached the standard required at a University they wish to enter.  These exams (selectividad) are set by the University they wish to enter.

Note:  Whilst it may be a good thing for a child to be integrated into the local culture, it is something to consider very carefully once your child is above the very early stages of their education, as the complete change of culture and language may cause unnecessary disruption and may affect your child’s ability to cope.

Registering your child for school

On Arrival in Spain

Your family is required to register on the town hall list, the Padrón Municipal de Habitantes. Once you have done this, you need to head for the Education Department (Ayuntamiento), where you will be issued with a school registration form and medical certificate form.  The medical certificate form has to be completed by a doctor and must include your child’s full medical history and confirm that all vaccinations are up-to-date.

How to get a medical certificate

Before you leave:  A good idea is to get a medical certificate before you leave the UK and have it translated and submit both the original with the Spanish translation, but this should be the last thing you do before leaving the UK to ensure that it is valid.

In Spain:  if you are entitled to the state healthcare you can go to a state clinic near you, they will know what is required.

If you have not yet registered with Social Security you need to go to a private clinic or a local doctor.

Finding a local school

Finding a local school:  The town hall in your town/city or the Provincial Ministry of Education Offices will have lists of the schools in their areas.  If you are living in a rural area there may be only one school and therefore no lists are necessary.

Once you have the completed medical certificate form you need to complete the school registration form and for this you will require your NIE number as well as ID documents that provide confirmation that you are the parent/guardian.  The registration form allows you to select either Spanish or a local dialect as the language of choice.  All Spanish schools are Catholic so expect your child to be given religious education as a Catholic.

The choice of school is not up to the parent/guardian the Ayuntamiento will determine which school in its catchment area is appropriate and will notify you.

Documents to enrol your child at a state school

  • A confirmation of residence document: Volante de Empadronamiento or Certificado de Empadronamiento. Issued at the town hall.  This confirms that your child is a resident within its catchment area.
  • Your child’s birth certificate, a full translation in Spanish and a photocopy
  • The completed medical certificate form issued by your doctor
  • Three recent passport size photographs of your child.

Second cycle of secondary school

  • Proof that your child’s education record has been verified by the Spanish Ministry of Education. An official form is provided by the Ministry of Education and is available at most Spanish Consulates and Embassies.


To verify past education (homologación or convalidación)


  • Completed and signed application form
  • Your child’s school record book and/or exam qualifications
  • Your child’s birth certificate

All documents not issued in Spanish require official Spanish translations.  It is a good idea to submit the translations together with stamped certified copies as it is risky to let go of originals.


All documents should then be forwarded to:

Subdirección General de Títulos, Convalidaciones y Homologaciones

Paseo del Prado 28

28071 Madrid


Private and International Schools in Spain

International schools: are the most popular education choice of ex-pats as these schools offer education in the UK recognised examinations and you can choose a school where the language of tuition is English, and in many instances the teachers are UK nationals.

British Private Schools: there are quite a number of British private schools, but if you choose one of these it is advisable that you check if they are a member of the National Association of British Schools in Spain before you make you final choice. For a list of accredited British schools in Spain go to the National Association of British Schools in Spain website.

British International Schools: there is a list of schools in Spain on the Council of British International schools on the COBIS website.  One this website you can contact the school of your choice and request further details on fees and entry requirements.

Further information:  The Good Schools Guide International list, provides independent reviews of the top international schools in Spain.

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 move to Spain from UK

How to move to spain from uk
How to move to Spain From Uk

Making your decision

Your reasons for making such a move should be valid and not because of a wonderful holiday that you would like to live again indefinitely.

Warm weather:  Remember this is all well and good but if you have to work on a daily basis it’s not a valid reason for disrupting your present circumstances.

Efficiency and immediate service:  If this is part and parcel of your everyday and is something that you cannot do without, then think again about a permanent move to Spain.  Spain enjoys a much slower pace than most Western European countries and it takes a little longer for things to actually get done, which can become stressful for those who like things to happen immediately.

If you are happy that these are not the reasons for your move and that you are not looking to live a ‘never-ending’ holiday then you need to clear up your affairs in the UK and get ready for your move.

Before you go checklist

  • Notify the authorities, banks, tax and social security offices (pensions) , of your intention to relocate to Spain and provide them with your change of address.
  • Check on schooling arrangements for your children. Schooling in Spain
  • If you have purchased a property in Spain check that all the paperwork is in order. Buying a Property in Spain 
  • If you have already taken a lease on a property – check that everything is in order.  It is recommended that you rent a property at first rather than buying a property for the first year.  This way you have a better idea of which neighbourhood you would want to live in Spain, and it gives you enough time to purchase your ideal home.  Renting  a Property in Spain
  • Unless you are really financially well off, you will have to make decisions regarding possessions. What to take, what to leave, what to give away, sell etc.
  • Contact with 3 different international removal companies (moving companies), and get quotes.
  • If the removal company is to pack your possessions as well as transport them then all you need is to make sure that you get your possession lined up and ready for packing and correct labelling. e.  kitchen, bedroom etc.
  • Arrange the date for removal with your chosen removal company.
  • Make arrangements for pet travel if applicable. How To  Bring Your Pet To Spain
  • Make sure that phone and internet services are given sufficient notice for disconnection.
  • Make sure you have nothing out on loan such as library books and return them.
  • Check that you have collected everything from the dry-cleaners.
  • Check passports, travel tickets and car documents
  • Check your insurance: travel insurance, Green card for your car.  Green Card
  • Make sure you have cash and that your credit and debit cards are not coming up for renewal.

Your personal affairs

No moving to Spain does not mean you can leave it all behind!  Once in Spain you will still have to deal with:

  • Pensions
  • Tax
  • Investments
  • Healthcare


If you are retiring to Spain and intend living there as a permanent resident, you can still continue to receive your UK pension but there are forms that will have to be submitted.  So, you need to contact the nearest Social Security Office to ensure you have the correct forms to complete.

  1. Pension forecast: Up to 4 months prior to your retirement or UK pensionable age, you can apply for a BR19 form which you can get from the Retirement Pension Forecasting and Advice Unit (RPFA) or Future Pension Centre. Your forecast will tell you, according to your general entitlement at the date they receive your application and whether or not your pension will have increased by the time of your actual retirement.

Note:  If you are already in Spain and are paying local Spanish social security subscriptions then these will not be calculated in to the UK forecast.

  1. Pension’s office notification: You need to contact the UK International Pension Centre and inform them of your new address.
  2. State pensionable age and entitlements: These vary between the two countries.
  3. Receiving your UK pension in Spain: To ensure that you receive your pension once you are in Spain you need to complete a claim form – this has to be done within the 4 months prior to reaching pensionable age, or 4 months before your retirement date.
  4. Company Pensions: Some companies will only pay UK past employees through a UK bank, or may charge a levy for forwarding payment to foreign banks.  There are companies however, who do not levy charges.
  5. Transfer of Pension fund: If you have not yet retired you could look into the possibilities and advantages of transferring your pension fund to Spain.  It’s a good idea to seek specialist advice from a pension’s expert.  If this is found to be feasible then you will have to apply for approval from UK Inland Revenue.


UK:  You will not be liable for UK tax if you cut all ties with the UK and become domiciled in Spain.  If you have retained resident status in the UK your income will be subject to UK tax. The Inland Revenue’s IR20 will provide you with comprehensive information.

Spain:  Spain has a ‘wealth tax’ which will be levied on your world-wide assets, but this will only apply if you become a Spanish citizen as Spain and the UK have a double taxation treaty.

Property retained in the UK: If you have property in the UK which you have rented and have a tenant you will have to pay income tax on the income.

Your move to Spain

Clearly, if you have got this far you know where you plan to settle in Spain and have organised somewhere to live, work etc.  So now you will have to decide on how to get there.


Take with you:

  • Driving licence
  • Car insurance & Travel insurance papers
  • Birth/Marriage certificates
  • Passports
  • Bank books/cheques/credit cards
  • Medical form E111

Make several photocopies of each document. Keep these separate from the originals – They will be your back-up should anything go missing.

Another good idea before you go is to get passport renewal forms before you leave, these are generally available at the post office.  These are not available in Spain so it will save a lot of frustration if you have the forms in case of loss or if a passport is stolen.

Getting there

A Ferry crossing:  Most ferries will not sell you a one-way ticket, but you may find that the cost of a return ticket would be cheaper anyway.

  • Ferry/Tunnel to Calais: Before you decide on bypassing the ferry option and using the tunnel consider the costs from Calais in road tolls and petrol to get to Spain.
  • Ferry to Santander or Bilbao: These run from Portsmouth and Brittany Ferries are the carriers.

On arrival in Spain

Even though as an EU British citizen or holder of an EU passport you are not required to have an entry visa, on your arrival the very first thing you MUST do is apply for an NIE number.  This number is your tax number and you will need it to access utilities, open a bank account or make purchases.  How To Get a NIE Number

Help with bureaucracy:  If you feel you really won’t have the time to see to this yourself you can get a Gestor to apply for you.  A Gestor is a Spanish accountant who will deal with administrative bureaucracy for you for a fee.  Many people use them as they save time, frustration and time.  Usually your first appointment is free so that they can find out what you require – the fees can be as high, or higher than €100, but many wish they had taken this option. Your nearest Spanish consulate or embassy should have a list of reliable Gestors.

Doing it yourself: Once you have arrived go to the nearest police-station and request an NIE application form.  There is no cost and you can complete the form in English.  You can also download a form from the citizens advice website and click on ‘Library’ then click on ‘Residency Section – click on the icon for an EX-15

Filling out your application form:  helpful tips

DATOS PERSONALES = Personal Details

  1. 1 er Apellido = Surname
  2. 2o Apellido = Second Surname – put a dash or if completed on a computer – three chiffons (—)
  3. Nombre: First Name (exactly as given in your passport)
  4. Fecha de nacimiento: Date of Birth (two digits as in DD  MM)
  5. Lugar de nacimiento: Place of Birth
  6. Sexo: Gender – remember this is Spanish so: ‘H’= male (Hombre) and ‘M’ = Female (Mujer) – put an ‘X’ on the gender applicable.
  7. Estado Civil: Status i.e. single, married, divorced.  Again be careful:

S = single,  C = married, V = widow/er, D = divorced

  1. País de nacimiento: Country of Birth
  2. País de nacionalidad: Current nationality
  3. Nombre del padre: Father’s name
  4. Nombre de la madre: Mother’s name
  5. Domicilio en España: Address in Spain,
  6. Localidad: Town,   CP = Postal code,  Provincia = Province


If you are in Spain because of employment fill in the sections under ‘Professional’

‘Social’ if you are purchasing a property.


Sign the form bottom right under ‘firma de solicitante’

The completed form:  Once you have completed the form make 2 photocopies, one for your records and one to go with the original.

Application Documents:

  • Application form + 1 photocopy (black and white)
  • Passport + 1 photocopy

Your TIE (a card with your NIE number) will be issued in approximately 4 weeks after your application.  You will not be notified when it is ready, you have to check with the police station at the appropriate time.


Social Security

If you are to work in Spain you need a Social Security number.  Your employer usually deducts your contributions from your pay cheque/salary

If you are self-employed you have to pay into the Social Security.


  • You are entitled to social security benefit on a pro-rata basis (calculated on the amount paid up)
  • You are entitled to national medical care: you sign on with your local practitioner.
  • You only pay into Social Security if you are earning money in Spain This does not apply to receiving pensions from the UK (any pension from the UK).


Spanish Residence

EU citizens are not obliged to apply for a residencia, but don’t discount it, as there are tax advantages once you are officially a Spanish resident.

Unlike your NIE application this can only be done once you have lived in Spain for a period of 6 months.  Of course you can do so before if you prefer.

EU citizens are no longer required to provide proof of income or medical insurance when they apply for Spanish residence.

You will need to go to the nearest National Police Station and their foreigner’s office –  oficina de extranjeros – and request the application form or you can download the form from the citizen advice bureau website:  (See: ‘Doing it yourself’ – above)

  • Completed application form
  • Four passport photos
  • Passport plus photocopy

Note:  As the requirements do change from time to time, it is a good idea to check that these are the only documents required.

You will be given a document stating that your application is being processed, but the actual document could take up to 6 months to arrive.

Once you have applied and have the temporary document it is advisable to make a photocopy which you should keep with you at all times.  This will avoid any possible problems with the authorities in situations which may arise.

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

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

Read more: ‘How to get Spanish Citizenship’ »

Read more: ‘Renting a property in Spain’ »

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

Study in Spain : How to get a student visa

How to get a student visa in Spain - All You need to know
How to get a student visa in Spain

Applying for a Spanish student visa

Before you can even think of applying for a student visa you need to apply for admission to an institution of learning whether it is to study or research, over either a short or long period.

You need to apply to the educational facility well in advance as you will require 3 months for your visa application to be processed.

The whole process is not difficult, but you need to take it one step at a time.

Short Study Periods

Step 1

Where to study:  Decide what you wish to study/research and where you would like to study.  It is best to choose more than one institution of learning to ensure that you have at least one acceptance.

Make sure that the letter of acceptance is clear on the subject, the course (if relevant).  It is important that whether it is a course or research the number of study hours must exceed 20 per week.

Step 2

Confirmation of acceptance:  Once you have confirmed your place on either a course or a research project you can apply either to the Spanish consulate or embassy in your home country.

Remember you must apply for your visa at least 3 months prior to commencement.

Step 3


1.      Letter of confirmation with details of training or research including the number of hours of study required, per week (not less than 20 hours).

2.      Proof of medical insurance.

3.      A medical certificate confirming that you are disease free and are not in need of a quarantine period.

4.      Proof that you and financially able to support yourself during your study time in Spain.

  • details of a scholarship, or
  • an affidavit stating who will be assuming full financial responsibility – parents/guardians.
  •  official confirmation of research project funding

5.      Information and confirmation of where you will reside during your study period in Spain.

6.      A certificate issued within the last five years from the relevant authorities, which states that you have no criminal record in your home country.


Extended Study Period

If your study period or research project is more than 6 months then once you have entered Spain on your study visa, you must apply within 30 days for a student residence permit.  This can be done at a local police station or local Foreigner’s Office (Oficina de Extranjeros), whichever is more convenient.
Step 4

Student residence permit documents:

  • Passport valid for at least 6 months but best if it is valid for the entire study period.
  • If you home country issues a National ID document, this is also accepted.
  • A completed and signed application form, available either at the Foreigners Office or Police Station.
  •  A photocopy of the entry stamp to Spain (in your passport).
  • The acceptance letter/document from the educational institution confirming the course, hours and your registration.

Three recent passport photographs.

Letter of residency, or census registration.  This is merely to confirm that you have an address in Spain.

  • To get this document you will need a utilities bill or rental contract
  •  Present either your bill or rental contract together with your passport at the nearest Police Station and they will issue the required document.

Process Time:

Process Time:  The processing of your documents and the issue of your Student Residence Card can take up to 3 weeks, and you will not be notified when it is ready.

Issuing of the student card: The issued card will be forwarded to the office where you applied.  Either the police station or Foreigner’s Office.  You need to check with them after 10 days and keep checking until you receive your card.

Validity period

Validity period:  The card is valid for 12 months.  Should your study period or research project extend beyond the 12 months you need to re-new you student residence permit in time so that it runs consecutively.  You can renew your permit every year for up to 5 years.
Student jobs while studying

If your study period is longer than 6 months and you have been issued with your student residence permit (card), you are entitled to work either in a temporary job or as a part-time employee in Spain.

However, working with a student residence permit has certain provisos.

Conditions for student jobs

  • The work you undertake is not permitted to be your sole means of support.
  • You may not work for more than 20 hours per week
  • The work cannot be so demanding that it interfere with your studies.
  • You may not be contracted to a job that will last longer than your period of study i.e. not after the expiry date of your study visa.
  •  A work permit is required:  This must be applied for by your employer.  Your employer will need to apply through the Foreigner’s Office.

Internships while studying

If you have been granted an internship at your place of study and you have a student residence permit, you are not required to apply for a work permit.

Visiting dependents

If during your period of study/research any dependent wishes to visit you i.e. spouse, registered partner of child/children under 18, for your period of study/research and you have your study visa, they can do so.

Requirements for dependents

  • The stay must be more than 6 months duration.
  • Proof that you have sufficient funds to support any dependent/s.
  • Evidence of the relationship between you and your dependent/s.
  • On arrival your dependent/s must apply for a Foreigner’s Identity Card (TIE) within 30 days of arrival.

Conditions for dependents:  No student dependent is permitted to apply for a work permit during their period of residence in Spain.  Which means that they may not seek, nor work in Spain for their period of residence with you as a dependent.

TIE (Foreigners Identity Card)

Getting your TIE (residence permit card) is a little frustrating at first, but if you have all the required documents with you it can go reasonably quickly.  Although many websites advise that you can apply at the police station, it is often the case that going to a police station can be frustrating, so it is best to go directly to the Foreigner’s Office (oficina de extranjeria).

Step 1 – Application Form

Collect the application form from the Foreigner’s Office – EX-17.  Complete and sign it.

Step 2 – Documents

Gather together the following documents. All photocopies should be in black and white not colour.

  • 2 photocopies of the first page of your passport – plus your passport.
  • 2 photocopies of your visa
  • 2 photocopies of the page in your passport that displays the customs entry stamp to Spain.
  • A letter from your educational institutions stating that you are registered as a student/researcher at their institution.
  • 2 copies of the EX-17 form (application form).

Euros for Bank Tax

Make sure you have Euros for the bank tax.  The amount varies in the different regions. in some the bank tax is €15, but to be on the safe side ensure you have €20 with you.

Step 3 – The Foreigner’s Office

Go to your nearest Foreigner’s Office (oficina de extranjeria) with all the required documents.

As there is usually quite a queue it is advisable that you take something with you to keep you amused and even something to drink, while you wait.

Once you are at the front of the line the process is very quick.  An official, will take your fingerprints and then hand you a form to take to the bank.

Step 4 – At the bank:

Hand in the form and the required bank tax in Euros, usually €15.  The bank teller will stamp your form and give you a card with your residence temporary numbers displayed.

Step 5 – Collect your TIE

Return to the Foreigner’s Office (oficina de extranjeria) to collect your residence card (TIE). Depending on where you applied, your card could be ready within 30 days but usually the process takes between 40 to 45 days after the date of application.  You can phone to check if it is ready before then.

For more information – See ‘international students’ section on the official Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport website.

How to find a job in Spain

How To Find A Job In Spain
Learn How To Find A Job In Spain.

The job market in Spain

If you don’t already have a job offer then it is important before you start that you consider your prospects in a country with a high unemployment rate.

Employment for young people:  the unemployment rate among the youth of Spain at present stands at 45% and many Spanish graduates look outside the country for employment opportunities.  But as is the norm in any industrialized country, the highest unemployment is among the unskilled or those with little or no tertiary education.

If you have qualifications that fall under the Spanish Government’s list of shortage occupations then your chances of finding employment are high

Shortage occupations

Shortage occupations:  These tend to be for medium to highly qualified persons in the fields of:

  • Teaching (including language teaching)
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Industrial expertise
  • Production engineering
  • Computing or IT
  • Business expertise
  • Commercial relations
  • Medical practitioners
  • Web and multi-media development
  • Real estate
  • Hospitality
  • Tourism

Temporary Jobs

A good starting point to tide you over until you find something more permanent, but you should prepare yourself for a minimum salary in most cases.

Seasonal Work

This type of work provides an in to the job market and covers such areas as teaching English, catering and the tourist trade.

Working hours:

On average a working week is in the region of 40 hours but the daily pattern is very different to other EU or American work places.  Apart from tour guiding, hours are usually from 09:00 to 20:00 with long afternoon breaks usually between 14:00 and 17:00 which is considered to be a time for employees to relax and mix with work colleagues. So not your usual 9 to 5 with a lunch break in the middle of the day.

Salaries:  The minimum salary in Spain is €655.20 per month (€21.84 per day) however teachers earn in the region of €2 300 per month.  In hospitality, tourism and catering the average salary is in the regions of €2 255 pm.  IT however is in demand and can command potentially higher salaries.

Speaking Spanish: regardless of the type of work you seek your chances of finding employment will be greatly enhanced if you speak Spanish and can apply for jobs in Spanish.

Job opportunities without Spanish language skills: if you don’t speak Spanish (yet) and you are not employed by a multi-national company then opportunities for employment are to be found in tourism, real estate, teaching English and most services aimed at ex pats.

Job seekers who do not require a Spanish work permit

EU Citizens

If you are an EU citizen or a citizen of a country within the EEA (European Economic Area – Citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) you do not require a work permit before you look for employment in Spain.

Anyone working in Spain is required to apply for a NIE number and must also register with the national tax office (Agencic Tributaria) as soon as possible after entering Spain.

Job seekers who require a Spanish work permit

Swiss citizens

Swiss citizens:  are required to apply for a work permit.  In order to get a work permit you will need to have a job offer.

Citizens outside the EU/EEA states:  are all required to apply for a work permit.  This means that you need to have a job offer.

The work permit:  Your employer is required to apply for your work permit.  This is done through the Dirección Provincial de Trabajo, Seguridad Social y Asuntos Sociales. Once you have your work permit you must then apply for a residence visa.

As soon as you arrive in Spain you are required to apply for your NIE number and also to register at the National tax office (Agencic Tributaria).

Applying for a job in Spain

The most successful way of finding work in Spain is through word-of-mouth, networking and speculative applications especially if you are looking to work for in a small to medium sized company.  So don’t restrict yourself to recruitment agencies, and adverts.  Remember there are lot of opportunities that are not advertised.  A good way of networking for job opportunities is through LinkedIn.

Sourcing job vacancies:

Recruitment agencies in Spain:  These mostly offer temporary positions but if that is what you are looking for then it is worth going to the offices of the Public Employment agency in Spain.   Go to:  sepe  OR   sistemanacionalempleo

Jobs on the Internet: websites in English are the most useful although there are websites that can be translated on the web.

So How to find a job in Spain?

Useful websites in English

  • EURES – European Job Mobility Portal: This website offers jobs within the EU and includes It also has online CV templates and access to a team of English speaking advisors.
  • Eurograduate – The European Graduate Career Guide: On this portal you can search for opportunities with multinational companies in Spain.
  • Useful information plus a job Portal
  • for English speaking Professionals (also jobsinmadrid and jobsinspain)
  • A lot of information across the board.  Register to view job opportunities.
  • Au pair vacancies: go to:


Useful websites inSpanish

If you speak Spanish or have someone who can translate for you these can be very helpful.

  • Expansión y Empleo: You can submit your CV and read the latest news on employment.
  • com: You can submit your CV and search for vacancies.
  • Sistema Nacional de Empleo: Straight forward local employment offices with job listings.
  • com: lists national vacancies.
  • com: this is the website for the national newspaper La Vanguardia with advertised vacancies.

Jobs in Spanish Newspapers:  Not the most efficient way of seeking a job, but if you want to leave go for the ‘nothing left uncovered’ system of job searching, then restrict yourself to Sunday editions, as most job opportunities are not advertised daily but in the main weekend editions.

Teaching English in Spain

Sorry but just being a native speaker of English does not mean you can teach the language.  If this is what you would like to do, you need to look around at home for institutions offering TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualifications.  The courses are usually short and intense, probably about 3 month’s duration.  Many institutions offer these courses either full or part-time.  Make sure that they issue a recognised certification on successful completion of their course.

With a TEFL qualification you can look at what the British Council has to offer in Spain, or check out the Spanish, English Language School websites as they usually advertise within their websites.

Without a TEFL qualification:  The British Council does, from time to time offer graduates teaching assistant positions provided you have 2 years tertiary education and AS level of Spanish.

Internships and Traineeships

If you are a university graduate looking at getting some experience or just to have a gap year the EU offers trainee-ships via the European Commission Trainee-ships Office (Bureau de Stages)

Summer placements or internships for graduates are arranged by AIESEC

If you are science, engineering or applied arts student then opportunities for traineeships are offered on IAESTE

You can also check with  as well as Intern Abroad at

Volunteering Opportunities

If you are considering a volunteer opportunity and you are between 17 and 30, there are volunteer opportunities which involve working abroad for up to 12 months with no salary, but usually include board, food, insurance and a small allowance.

For volunteer opportunities you can go to:

Your job application

Your CV:  Just translating your present CV into Spanish will not necessarily be well received.  To make the best impression you need to tailor your CV to match the accepted style for a CV in Spain.

Some companies have a portal on their website for CV submissions but it is still the norm to submit a hard copy together with a covering letter.  However, In Spain you will also find companies who just require you to complete an application form supplied by them, usually on their website.

If you are required to submit a CV you will can find suitable templates for a Spanish styled CV plus written instructions on the Euro-pass website.

References: You will need to have these translated not just by a friend who happens to speak some Spanish but by a professional translator.

Recognition of Qualifications: First check if your profession falls under ‘regulated professions’.  You can do this on the European Commission’s database:
Speculative Applications: Company websites are a good place to start.

If you are looking at Websites in Spanish then look under headings such as ecursos humano (human resources) empleo (employment), and sometimes trabaja para nosotros (work for us).

A useful website for sourcing companies and getting company details is:

You will need a covering letter in Spanish and your Spanish-styled CV.

If possible try to get hold of the relevant department name and even better, the relevant name of the person in charge.  Addressing your letter/email to the right person will get things moving faster.

Once you have allowed sufficient time, follow up your letter with a phone call, or send a follow-up email.

Your Residence Visa and NIE number

Now assuming that you have your job offer in writing in the form of an official document you need to apply for your Spanish Residence visa/permit.

Spanish Residence Visa

EU citizens

Since 1 March 2003, two groups of EU citizens no longer need to hold residence cards: people legally working in Spain and paying Spanish Social Security; However, there are tax advantages in having your residencia so it worth applying even though as an EU citizen you are permitted to work and reside in Spain without one.

Everybody else must apply for residencia

Everybody whether EU citizen or Non EU citizen who is working in Spain must have an NIE number.


Residence permit

This will include your NIE number (número de identificatión de extranjero)

EU citizens can apply for their Visado de Residencia in Spain at the Foreigner’s Office or a police station that has a Foreigner’s division.

NON – EU citizens:  You apply for your Visado de Residencia at your nearest Spanish Consulate of Spanish Embassy before arriving in Spain.

Required Documentation:

  • Proof of financial means i.e. financial assets and income (includes official job offer)
  • Certificado de antecedents penales: A certificate from the relevant authorities back home stating that you have no criminal record in your home country.
  • A medical certificate showing that you are in good health both physically and mentally.
  • Medical insurance from a company licenced to operate in Spain
  • Passport and 2 photocopies
  • Three passport photographs (recent)
  • Bank fee of approx. €15 or €20
  • A Spanish bank statement showing income from abroad
  • Deeds to Spanish property or rental agreement Plus 2 photocopies
  • Completed and signed application form


Your NIE Number

Your NIE number is required if you are to receive payments, which includes your salary.  You need an NIE number if you utilise any utilities such as phone, internet etc., or if you enter into any financial transactions in Spain. 

Anyone working and living in Spain requires an NIE number as this number is your tax identification number.

Getting your NIE number

The whole process is fairly simple just follow the steps and make sure that you have the correct documentation needed for each step.

Step 1

Go to your nearest police station (in Spain).  If you cannot go then ask a friend to go for you.

At the Police Station you go to its Foreigners Department (Departmento de Extranjeros).  Ask for the NIE application form.

Another option is to phone their enquirers on 807 422 422 and request that the application form be emailed or sent to you via the post and don’t forget to request for the instructions in English.

Step 2

Documents:  Now you need to gather all the necessary documents.

  1. Once you have successfully completed your application form, have a photocopy printed.
  2. Make a photocopy of your passport.
  3. You need an address in Spain, if you do not have one as yet you can use the address of a friend.
  4. A Letter of Justification – this is a documents that states why you need the NIE

It should be issued by an accountant, a notary, a bank manager an insurance agent of a future employer)

  • If you are to be an employee you need either the job offer from a Spanish Company or a letter the Spanish employer confirming your appointment
  • If you are self-employed you will need a document to show ownership of a company
  • If you are a student you will need a letter of acceptance from an institution of learning i.e. school or university.
  • If you are to reside in Spain and do not need to earn, you need a letter declaring that you have sufficient funds to do so.
  • If you are going to seek work you must have a letter stating this – your NIE will only be valid for 3 months.

Step 3

Return to the Police Station with your documents.  Your photocopies will be stamped.  Your passport will be returned to you together with the stamped, photocopy of the application form.

This is the time to ask when you can expect your NIE certificate (number on the certificate).

Although this turnaround can happen reasonably quickly it can sometimes take up to 6 weeks and you will not be notified when it’s ready, it is up to you to find out.  So it is best to start asking if it has arrived about 2 weeks after you handed in your application.

Step 4

Collecting your NIE certificate.  

How to Get A NIE Number Here >>

Once you have confirmed with the police station that your NIE Certificate has arrived.

Take your passport, together with the stamped photocopy of your application, back to the police station where your application was lodged.

Just simply hand in your passport and photocopy application form and you will receive your NIE certificate.

You are now legally permitted to legally carry out transactions in Spain and you are now able to open a bank account or buy property – property can be interpreted as fixed property or any purchase an item whose value is in excess of €3,000 (three thousand).

Your NIE certificate

Your NIE certificate bears an official stamp.  It is an A4 document that includes your name, address, date of birth and your NIE Number.

Note:  It is important that you immediately have photocopies made and certified, as your future transactions in Spain will require a copy of your NIE certificate.  It is important that you keep your original safe and do not hand in the original, only a certified copy.

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

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: ‘Renting a property in Spain’ »