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Moving to Spain

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    Over the past several decades Spain has turned into a modern, industrial country. That paired with its title of being the sunniest European country, makes it a popular expat destination. Read through our guide on moving to Spain for expert advice on all things moving.

    Learning the language

    Most Spanish residents speak Castilian Spanish. Knowing the language is essential to do business in Spain. Before relocating to Spain, it is wise to start learning the language to at least an intermediate level. 

    To learn Spanish back in your home country, consider attending local university classes, language centres, online courses, apps such as Duolingo, books and CDs. If the move is quite urgent, learn Spanish after you have moved, in Spanish Language schools. If you are moving to Madrid, check out Academia Contacto and Tandem. Alternatively, opt for BCN Languages or LinguaSchools in Barcelona or Alhrambra Instituto in Malaga.

    Spanish Bible

    Time zone

    Spain is on Central European Time – or 1 hour ahead of the UK. Make sure to plan your meetings and family calls with the UK accordingly.

    A Spanish flag with a tall Madrid building in the background, in a clear blue-sky day

    Passports, visas and permits

    Before seeking external help for passports, visas or permits, check in with your employer. They should be assisting all their expatriate employees. This will make sure that you remain compliant with Spain’s laws. For more information for fellow Brits, visit the Gov.com page. Alternatively, visit the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for more information and MFA for entry requirements.

    In terms of passports, make sure that your family member’s passports are valid for longer than the intended stay period. Check the UK government’s page for further advice.

    If you are a British Citizen, moving to Spain post 1st January 2021, you will need to obtain a visa. You will be able to do so by applying online and by providing documents – birth certificates, bank statements, letters of reference and academic credentials. In some circumstances, you might also be asked to do an interview.

    Marbella in Spain, beautiful cliffs and crystal-clear water

    Can I Work in Spain?

    If you are moving to Spain from outside of the EU, then you will need to obtain a work visa before moving. You can work in Spain if you have obtained a work visa, but without one a company cannot legally employ you. You should make sure your application for a work visa is successful before deciding on moving to Spain.

    Customs requirements

    You might be planning to bring your household goods when moving to Spain. To do that, you must apply for a change of residence certificate, issued by Spain’s Embassy. Keep in mind that you should be moving to Spain for a minimum of 365 days to import your goods. Moreover, the items must arrive within 3 months after you arrive in Spain. Up to 3 months extension might be granted if the shipments are delayed. You are also only able to bring in items that you have owned for a minimum of 6 months – newer items are prohibited.

    Once the goods are brought in, you will have to sign a document, agreeing to not sell, transfer or lease any of your belongings for a minimum of 12 months.

    A traditional Spanish dance-off with two ladies and an audience watching in the background

    Taking my pet

    When moving abroad, you need to account for all family members – including the four-legged ones. Moving your pets to Spain is a lot less stressful than one might think. Your pet should firstly have an ISO microchip for identification – with up-to-date contact information. Then make sure to contact your vet for the most up to date information on the documents needed post-Brexit. At the time this article is written, you should only need a health certificate, which is translated to Spanish and signed by your veterinarian within 10 days of moving.

    Ginger cat sitting at a window in an apartment with a background view of La Coma region in Spain

    Taking a vehicle

    You are welcome to bring your car or motorcycle for a maximum term of 6 months – for personal use. To extend the period, you will have to reach out to the Spanish Customs Agency – Direccion General de Aduanas.

    Currency

    Spain uses Euro (€) as the main currency. There are a total of seven notes – 5,10,20,50,100,200 and 500 and eight coins – €1, €2, and 1,2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents. Euro coins have an EU motif on one side and Spanish national symbols on the other. As a result, you are going to be able to use the Spanish Euros in any other European Union country – great for those European holidays!

    Changing money

    Before travelling to Spain, it might be worth exchanging some Euros in the local post office or money exchange shop. Alternatively, you can take some euros out at Spanish ATMs – keep in mind that your bank issuer may charge some fees. Lastly, you can exchange it at a Spanish Bank or the Airport upon arrival.

    an image of City of Arts and Science institution in Valencia Spain

    Finding a home

    Finding housing that fits your needs, in a new country, can be challenging. Here are our tips for finding your perfect home.

    Firstly, reach out to your colleagues and other fellow expatriates for places to live. In Spain, landlords prefer renting to tenants that are either recommended to them or known in their social circles. 

    Secondly, visit the neighbourhood where you’d like to rent, before moving to Spain. Keep your eyes peeled for orange rent placards in windows and note down contact information. If you’d like to go for an apartment, have a chat with concierges – they will know which apartments are up for rent.

    Thirdly, check out local newspapers such as ABC and El Pais. If you are moving to Madrid, check out Segundamano or Guidepost. Alternatively in Barcelona, check out La Vanguardia and El Periodico.

    Lastly, search for properties online. Check out idealista.com and fotocasa.com for rental properties.

    a view of Tarragona, Spain town with old architecture and blue skies

    Interested in information on another country? Take a look at our other International Relocation guides.

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