Frequently asked questions
In the same way every UK resident will be familiar with having a national insurance number, to become established in Spain you will need the equivalent Spanish documents. The answers to many of the questions in Part 2 may require you to have one or a combination of the documents listed on this page. You will hear these names a lot once you arrive so here is a brief explanation for each of them…
N.I.E. – Foreigners Identification Number
Very similar to a UK national insurance or social security number, all residents and property buyers require an NIE number. To obtain a NIE number apply in the National Police Station.
N.I.F. – Fiscal number
The law requires you to have an NIF number when you own a car, house or business in Spain or if you are employed. In order to obtain a NIF, you must have an NIE number. Apply in the Hacienda.
Residencia – Work Permit and Right to reside
The Law with regards to Residencia changed in 2018. You are legally obliged to become a Resident if you are going to be here for more than 90 days. Apply in the Delegacion de Gobierno.
Empadronamiento – the equivalent of being on the electoral role
This is obtained by applying in your local borough offices. You will need your passport and a rental contract to the house you are renting or your Escritura (Deed to a house). Apply in your local borough hall.
You should bring full birth certificates for any minors and marriage certificate for any couple. Please note British birth and marriage certificates are not considered valid unless they have been stamped by the Hague Convention: Click here for further information.
Your Questions Answered
What paperwork do I need to live in Spain?
Unless you are in Spain to work for less than 3 months you need to get a Residencia.
What paperwork do I need to work?
Any EU citizen can work in Spain with just their passport and a Social Security number.
How do I buy property in Spain?
If you are buying property in Spain you should use a licenced solicitor. We would recommend using an English speaking Spanish solicitor who knows the local area. Most real estate agents will recommend or supply a solicitor for you. If you’re buying property and taking out a mortgage, the bank will look after all the legal aspects of the transaction. The legal costs generally work out to be around 10% if you are taking out a mortgage, and around 6% if you pay in cash.
When you sign for a property in Spain you will do so in the Notary office where an official translator is supplied to take you through each step of the proceedings and make sure you understand exactly what you are buying and signing.
If you are buying a house in Spain, all houses, unless set on it’s own piece of ground, must have a Community Organisation. The community will be charged for communal water for gardens, electricity for street lighting, and the charges for taking away rubbish, pool cleaning and other maintenance costs within the complex. Those fees for the complex are divided up into individual apartments and they all pay a proportion of those fees depending on the size of the house. There are a number of books available on this subject in the local bookshops.
How do I open a bank account?
You can open a bank account with your passport. But most banks will also ask for proof of your Fiscal Residence, most likely your previous years Tax Return. There are two types of bank account: residents and non-residents accounts. The residents account has a number of advantages, like a slightly cheaper mortgage rate beneficial borrowing terms (up to an 80% mortgage rather than 60%). If you are going to open a residents account you are required to take out Residencia but some banks will do so with a NIE and NIF.
Can I bring a car over?
Yes, but you should estimate it will cost you about 30% of the Spanish book value of the vehicle to get it in and registered on Spanish plates. You have two months in which to change the paperwork if you are a Non Resident and 1 month to do it if you are. You should bring all possible paperwork with you, including a receipt proving what the car cost.
You should bring a European Certificate of Conformity with you from the manufacturer. If this is not possible you will need a licensed surveyor to produce a technical data sheet on your car – this costs around 250€.
Then you go to a customs agent (costs around 150€) who will present the papers to customs for you. (Costs between 9-13% of the value of the car depending on size, age, make, etc).
Then apply for ITV (MOT).
Then you will need to pay a further tax to the Hacienda of between 0-13.75%, depending on the cars CO2 emissions.
Pay the corresponding road tax to your local town hall.
Finally you should present all documents to the Traffico office (tax 100€).
How do I buy a car?
If you are buying a car from a registered dealer, generally they will do the paperwork for you at no extra cost. If you buy a car from a friend or a private individual, there are three main pieces of paper for which you must have the originals:
a) The Ficha Tecnica, which is a green card, that has all the technical details of the car.
b) The Permiso de Circulación, which is a permit to circulate. This must be in the name of the person you are buying the car from.
c) The Impuesto de Circulación. This is the equivalent of car tax in the UK and must be paid in your local council offices on a yearly basis. As this is done at the end of each year you will need to pay this up to date to change the paperwork.
You are required to have identification, with photographs, for both the seller and buyer and you must have the originals plus copies. Then you pay 5.5% of the declared value of the car in the registry office and secondly you pay a fee of 54 euros in the Traffico office, note this is card only.
To buy a car you will need a Residencia or an NIE number and proof of a Spanish address which is a Certificate of Empadronamiento or your House Deeds (Escritura) or a rental contract in Spanish.
Much the same as elsewhere, there are loads of brokers, so take you pick on which one. You should bring with you any proof of your no claims bonuses so that they can be applied here.
Is an EU driving licence valid and for how long?
Yes it is. Remember all EU licences have an expiry date.
What options are there for childrens’ schools?
You can choose a private school or if you want to sign your children up for a Spanish school, you need to be Empadronado in that particular area and your child will need an identification number e.g. passport or residencia. You must supply medical records, specifically their vaccinations.
Is there a school entrance test?
No there isn’t
Can I choose which school my children attend?
You can choose to put your children in your local borough school providing there are places available. If there aren’t places available an alternative place will be found in another school and transport is arranged for the children free of charge.
For non-residents a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC which replaced the E111 in June 2004) will entitle you to emergency medical health benefits for up to 3 months. This becomes invalid once you obtain Residencia.
If you are over 65 and emigrating, you will need an S1 form, which you obtain from Overseas Health and Pensions Department in Newcastle. This will transfer your medical cover from your country of origin to Spain.
Alternatively you can take out your own private medical insurance.
How do I get into the Spanish health system?
You will either need a work contract, in which case you employer would put you on automatically.
Alternatively you need to be self-employed, which will cost you about 230€ per month but then you and your dependant family can go onto the National Health System. You need to be Empadronado within your borough, and then you can visit a doctor in your area, this is similar to the GP system in the U.K.
Jabs and Vaccines
You don’t require any jabs and vaccines before coming to Spain – it’s part of the European Union.
What is my position with taxes?
You do not pay as you earn in Spain, the employer pays as you earn which costs around 30-40% on top of your stated income. This covers your National Health payments and taxes and is done on a monthly basis. If you are a self-employed person you pay a minimum fee of 234€ every month for social security. Your tax (free) threshold in Spain is 18,000€ per year. All property owners are obliged to do a tax return in Spain whether they are Resident or not.
Shipping taxes & paperwork.
If you are a non resident in Spain you will have to pay an import tax even if you are shipping your personal second hand goods.
The paperwork differs as per your agent, but generally you will need:
a) A NIE and a NIF number
b) To be on the electoral role (empadronado)
c) A rental contract together with the stamp duty, or if you own property a copy of the model 600 form (which is the tax you pay when you buy a property).
You will also have to pay a handling fee. Where possible it’s best to use a company which has a Spanish agent based in the area you are moving to.
How do I set up a business?
There are two options in setting up a business:
a) Be self-employed and autonomous and pay 234€ per month health insurance.
b) To set-up an S.L. company (similar to a limited company in the UK). You are required to pay a minimum of 3000€ which is the companies capital, this is retained as shares of the company. There are a number of taxes involved, the first being an economic tax which varies depending on the type of business you run.
It’s cheaper to be autonomous or self-employed, but you have full liability. If you are going to set-up a business, take out professional advice and see an administrative assessor or accountant who will set it up for you.
Do I need to learn Spanish?
You don’t need to learn Spanish as there are always foreign communities and you can live and may get work within those communities.
However, the people who learn Spanish are the people who last in Spain. The better you speak Spanish the more options there are in terms of jobs and your social life!
There are a number of schools that run private lessons or group classes. There are also free lessons organised by the local Boroughs within your area. Local town halls (ayuntamientos) run courses periodically, which are often free to join.
An alternative option is to do an intensive course, which is anything between 4-6 hours a day. These courses would give you an excellent foundation from which to build on and generally one month would be sufficient to start with.
Can I vote?
As previously explained, being empadronado is the equivalent of being on the electoral role; you are registered as living at a certain address within your borough. This does not mean you are automatically entitled to vote. You need to go to your local borough offices and check that you are on the voting register separately.
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