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Moving to and Living in Spain


Step #1 Making the decision

If you want to settle in Spain either long or short term then you have to have drive, determination and patience. The hot weather may be a major attraction to you - don't move for this reason alone. The sun is nice for a while but if you need to work in it to survive, it's not quite so attractive. If you are one of those who like everything done straight away then Spain is not for you. Be prepared for a slower lifestyle where things take a little longer to get done. Living in Spain is not a holiday in any way. Still convinced that you want to move ? Then read on and do it ! Assuming you have cleared up any mess and tied up loose ends in your own country you are almost ready to move.

Maybe you have a home to go to in Spain, maybe you want to find one when you get there. Maybe you have work to go to or maybe you will look for work when you get there. If you have no arrangements don't worry, there are plenty of both, depending on what area of Spain you are going to.

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Step #2 Making the move

Once you have decided on where in Spain you are going to, you need to decide on how to get there. You will decide which way is best for you, depending on what you are taking with you. If you decide to drive, make sure you read the section on driving in Spain. You can catch a car ferry at many English ports and buy a one way or return ticket. [we were once told that a cheap day return to France can be bought cheaper than a one-way ticket]. A point to note is that if you bring a caravan over with you, most ferries will not sell you a one way ticket so you must use the tunnel. Consider carefully the cost of a crossing to Calais and the additional cost of petrol and tolls as opposed to a crossing to Santander or Bilbao. Driving through France can be a long nightmare and very expensive on tolls. Flying over is a cheap alternative if all you have are a couple of cases. Cheap flights can be booked over the internet at as little as £50 each ! But, consider how you are to get about once you get here. Spain is a big country and a car is a must. Whichever way you get here, there are several things you must bring with you. Driving licences/Car insurance papers Birth/Marriage certificates Passports Bank books/cheque and credit cards Enough money to get home Important medication Form E111 and remember to make several photocopies of all your documents !

Step #3 Travel documents

Because Spain is part of the EU, if you live in an EU country, you do not require a visa to enter the country. You have almost equal rights in Spain as you do in your own country. Make sure you have a full ten year British Passport well before you leave. Make several photocopies of it and make sure you keep at least one copy in a safe place. Losing your original passport in Spain would be a bad move. Losing all record of it would be worse. Consider taking out travel insurance for your journey over. It's money well spent if your luggage vanishes or your car is stolen with all your belongings inside. Make sure children have their own passports. It's also a good idea to go the post office in England and collect a form for renewal of a passport and a form for replacement of a lost/stolen passport. These are forms you can't get in Spain. Make sure you have all your birth/marriage certificates with you and again, make sure you have several photocopies of each which you should keep separate from the originals.

Step #4 On arrival in Spain - N.I.E. No

As a foreigner living and/or working in Spain, the first thing you MUST do on arrival is obtain an NIE number. This is a simple process providing you follow the guidelines. You can get a Gestor to apply for you but it will cost you about 100€. To do it your self, go to the National Police station and collect an application form, or you can download the form here. You can complete the form in English and it is FREE.




1er Apellido: Surname
2º Apellido : (Second Surname) Write three chiffons instead (---)
Nombre : Christian Name (make sure to use same as in passport)
Fecha de Nacimiento: Date of birth (use two digits for day and month)
Lugar de nacimiento: Place of birth
Sexo : Gender "H" for Male (Hombre) and "M" Female (Mujer) . X cross the one applicable
Estado Civil: Status. S for single C for married. V for widow and D for divorced
País de nacimiento: Country of Birth
País de nacionalidad: Current Nationality
Domicilio en España: Address in Spain (if you have one, otherwise leave blank)


Reasons for application:
Economic, Professional or Social (Tick professional for work reasons or social for house purchase)


Leave blank

Sign the form at the bottom, under 'firma de solicitante'.

Complete the form and take it back to the National Police station, along with a photocopy. You also need to provide your original passport and a photocopy. That's it ! You will then be told to return in approx. 4 weeks time when your number will be ready to collect. You need this number to do anything fiscal in Spain such as open a bank account [this can also be done with your passport number].

Step #5 Looking for work

If you have not already found work or intend to work for your self, you will now need to start job hunting. See more about working in Spain here

Step #6 Residencias
A residencia is a form of permit for those who intend to reside in Spain on a permanent basis. It is NOT compulsory for EU citizens, however, there are advantages. They are issued by the National Police dept. You may wish to employ the services of a gestor for your application. Failing this, visit your nearest police station and collect the application forms.

Your application forms must be returned to the Police along with several important items, as a minimum these will include; 3 photographs (passport style - in colour) A full passport (original and 2 photocopies) Title deeds or a rental contract stating where you live A work contract (min 6 months long - original and a photocopy) The fee (aprox. £4.00) is paid into the bank, as instructed by the police. You then produce the receipt as part of your application. A certificate from a bank in Spain may be required, proving that you have sufficient money in the account, or a regular income coming in to support you.

Useful Websites:

The British Embassy's website - For information on moving to and living in Spain - medical cover, employment, education, pets, cars, benefits, getting married and so much more. - A great site for anyone wanting a phone line installed, internet, or information about tarriffs and products.

Useful addresses in London:

Spanish Embassy,
39 Chesham Place,

Cultural Office, Tel 020 7201 5522 fax 020 7259 6487
Press Office, Tel 020 7235 7537 fax 020 7235 2263
Labour Office, 20 Peel Street, London W8 7PD Tel: 020 7221 0098 - email:

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