With plenty of sunshine all year round, a relatively low cost of living, and a good healthcare system, it’s easy to see why so many people migrate to Spain from around the world each year. Whilst many people, particularly retirees, choose to move to places like Alicante, Marbella or the Spanish Islands, Barcelona is hugely popular amongst those seeking to live and work in a thriving city with a great quality of life.
If you’re thinking of moving to Barcelona, the legal paperwork you’ll need will depend on whether you’re moving from another EU country or from outside the EU. It will also depend on how long you’re planning to stay, and whether or not you intend to work here.
Moving to Barcelona from the UK after Brexit:
If you’re moving to Barcelona from the UK after Brexit, you’ll need the same legal paperwork as if you were moving from any other non-EU country. If you were already living in Barcelona before 1st January 2021, you’ll be able to continue to live and work here under the Withdrawal Agreement
, as long as you register your residency here
Moving to Spain from the UK or other non-EU country
The paperwork you’ll need to move to Spain from the UK or elsewhere outside the EU will depend on how long you plan to stay, and whether or not you intend to work.
Spain is part of the Schengen area
, which is a group of 26 countries without any internal borders. You can visit any Schengen country for up to 90 days in total out of any 180, without any visas. This means that you can go on holiday to Spain, visit friends and family, attend events, business meetings or short-term study courses without any additional paperwork such as a Schengen visa.
If you’re moving to Barcelona or intending to spend longer than 90 days here to live, you’ll need:
- A visa (visado nacionale), also known as a residence permit. Alternatively, you could apply for a Spanish business visa, or a study visa if you’re moving here to work or study for a set period.
- An NIE number (Numéro de Identidad de Extranjero, which is like a National Insurance number in the UK) so that you can open a bank account, own or rent property, work, pay taxes, apply for a driving license etc. You can apply for an NIE number via the Spanish consulate in the UK or at the National Police Station in Spain.
- A TIA card (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero), which is an identity card that proves your name and address, for which you’ll need to fill in an application form and attend an appointment. You’ll need to prove that you have the means with which to support yourself and your dependants, and have adequate health insurance in place.
- A padrón/certificado de empadronamiento from the local town hall. You’ll need to do this in the first couple of days after moving to Spain; you’ll be included in the local census with it, and won’t be able to vote (which you’ll be allowed to do after 3 years) without it. It’s a legal requirement. You can apply online or at the city hall in Barcelona.
Once you’ve lived in Spain under your visa for 5 years, you’ll be able to apply for Spanish residency (which would mean surrendering your residency of your country of origin) if you choose.
Moving to Barcelona as an EU citizen
This is a much simpler process, because of the Freedom of Movement principle made law under Article 3(2) of the Treaty on European Union.
If you are an EU citizen, you can live and work anywhere in Spain for as long as you like if you:
- Have a job/are self employed in Spain, or otherwise have the means to support yourself and your dependants, and you have full health insurance
- Or you are a student in Spain, can support yourself and have full health insurance.
You will need to be registered on the Registro Central de Extranjeros within 3 months of your arrival - you can do this at the local police station or the local Oficina de Extranjero. You’ll also need to be registered on the padrón as above, and you’ll need to apply for an NIE number too.
Once you’ve got your paperwork in order…
Most people rent for a few months at first, so that they can get to know the local area and take their time to find exactly the right property to buy. Ultimately, though, only around 22% of the properties in Spain are rented, as most people own their properties in Spain.
Renting typically costs between €800 - 2000 per month plus bills, and you may decide that you’d rather spend that money repaying a mortgage. Banks in Spain will typically lend up to 80% of the purchase price, so you’ll need to save for your deposit plus the costs of purchase.
If you decide to move to Barcelona, or if you need to move from a rented property to your permanent Spanish home, you could store your belongings with us for however long you need until you’re settled. We have four self storage stores in Barcelona, so you’ll be able to find one local to your new home.
Barcelona has so much to offer: it’s architecturally beautiful, it has a rich history, the food and wine are excellent and the music/festival culture is thriving. You’ll love living here, just get in touch if we can help to store your belongings whilst you get settled.