What you’ll need to immigrate to Spain
To make this as straightforward as possible for you, we have briefly explained what you’ll need and what this means. To be short, the main requirements you need to immigrate to spain are the essential documents (NIE & Residencia), be able to demonstrate incoming funds (will require a bank account in Spain) and Spanish healthcare (public or private), also known as Seguridad Social.
NIE (Número de identidad de extranjero).
This is a fiscal number. The name itself in Spanish translates to “Identification number for foreigners”. It is an all purpose identification number. For example, you will need an NIE number to buy a car, a property, signing en employment contract, opening a bank account, and, most importantly, pay your taxes.
WHERE TO APPLY FOR THE NIE NUMBER?
There are a few ways to apply for this:
- Apply in person in Spain.
- Apply in person via a Spanish Consulate abroad.
- Apply through a fiscal representative (Gestoria) in Spain
The NIE number can be either temporary or permanent. For the permanent NIE (which must be requested before the 90 days of stay in Spain) cannot be done via a Spanish consulate outside of Spain, it can only be processed physically in person in Spain or via a representative helping you through this. Always with prior appointments. The temporary NIE has a validity of 3 months, so this is more for those who wish to perhaps study here for 3 months or maybe work for the summer season.
All of this information will be stated in the Spanish government’s website here http://www.exteriores.gob.es/
TAX RESIDENCE (Residencia)
This is the document that enables you to live and work legally in Spain without the need to apply for a Spanish passport. The number when issued is unique to you, like the N.I number in the UK for example. The Spanish residency can be short term, long term or permanent. There are two different versions, one is for European Union Residents and the other is Non-European Union Residents. This process changes between both.
WHERE TO APPLY FOR THE RESIDENCIA CARD?
There are a few of ways to apply for this:
- Spanish national police stations with foreign affairs divisions (Extranjeros). You will need to request an appointment in advance online.
- Immigration offices
- Police station (Policia Nacional).
When applying for the resident card, you must be present on that day. Moreover, the application for the “residencia” card cannot be done in any embassy, unlike the NIE. You will need to apply within the province you’re living in at the list of locations shown above.
Opening a bank account in Spain is not a difficult process. Most banks in Spain offer:
- Non resident bank accounts: If you’d like to open a bank account before becoming a permanent resident in Spain, this is possible, however, you will need the following: “Certificado no residente”, this is similar to the NIE process, but the bank can also do this for you with an extra fee and might take a bit longer, your passport, your proof of address (recent utility bill). This option is a good temporary solution.
- Resident bank accounts: This is the way to go if you’re considering staying permanently and for this option, you will need your NIE number, a valid current passport or national identity card (if you’re an EU citizen), a document that proves your address in Spain (bank statement) and proof of employment/retirement/
unemployed paperwork, etc.
A bank account in Spain when moving here is a good idea for everyday spending, paying utility bills, but also if you want to start a phone contract here, as an example. No phone companies in Spain will accept a bank account from outside of Spain.
The healthcare in Spain is second to none.
For EU citizens wishing to stay for more than 3 months, will need to provide proof of public or private healthcare (Seguridad Social). In order to have your medical expenses covered in Spain, you will need to register for the Seguridad Social. Nevertheless, if you’re moving for professional reasons, be sure to check what your employer offers, as many companies do provide private healthcare for foreigners, but this is dependent on the employer and the contract one has.
From experience, at MDL we can strongly vouch for both public and private.
- Public Healthcare: Available to all those who work and live in Spain. Moreover, 90% of the population uses public healthcare in Spain. The primary care is covered by taxes taken out of one’s salary, and there should not have to be any out of pocket payments here. You are able to pick out your own general practitioner. You will be registered at your local health care centre, which is where you are “Empadronado/a” (where you are registered and live legally)
- Private Healthcare: This is an optional expense that one chooses to pay. As mentioned though, some employers do offer private healthcare as part of the work benefits. Private can be used with or instead of public healthcare. Treatment and service tends to be faster with private insurance. Dental and eye care are usually covered by private healthcare insurance in Spain.
When you register with Public Healthcare, you will receive a “Seguridad Social” card, which identifies you within the medical healthcare system, it’s like an “NHS” number in Spain, which you take to your General practitioner when you have an appointment, as well as, to the pharmacy when you might have a prescription, it’s all electronic based.
Whatever you might choose, both options are fantastic on the Costa del Sol.
If you’re relocating with children, finding a new school will be an important decision for you. On the Costa del Sol you have every possibility to choose from. From personal experience, both my parents are foreigners, I went to an English kindergarten and was sent to a Spanish school at the age of 4 with no knowledge of Spanish, well what does a 4 year old do when they all speak Spanish? They learn it and that’s the short life story of how Spanish became my first language. All the same, I have friends who went to British, German, Swedish schools and also speak fluent Spanish thanks to the great education level here.
The education system in Spain offers three different options of schooling:
- State school: You can get a list of the different state schools in your area from the local town hall or education centre. Enrolment is usually around May time. These schools are in Spanish, but do teach English as a second language and most of the time, French/German as a third.
- Private school: Here you have the option between Spanish or Bilingual schools which have a higher emphasis on English. Prices for private schools vary depending on location and language.
- International school: These generally have smaller class sizes and will work to the English Curriculum, where your child will also learn Spanish as a second language. These schools are usually based in larger towns, such as Marbella.
Consider that schools tend to start in September here and that the climate here is different to the rest of Europe and so the Summer holidays are usually a total of 3 months and the starting & finishing times might vary to different countries, but also to different schools here. Most people we know have experience with this, so we’ll be happy to share our advice with you and experiences.
I hope this information will serve as useful, whether you are contemplating or have decided to make that lifestyle choice to immigrate to Spain. MDL are here to serve and guide you all the way.