Healthplan Spain


The Complete Guide On How To Immigrate And Move To Spain Expat Tips

Embarking on a new adventure in the vibrant Spanish territory can be an exhilarating prospect, especially for those seeking a fresh start. With its irresistible combination of sunny weather, breathtaking beaches, and a high quality of life, Spain has become home to approximately 6 million expatriates. If you're considering a move to Spain but are unsure about the logistics, this comprehensive guide is here to assist you every step of the way.

Determining Eligibility for Moving to Spain

Fortunately, Spain welcomes individuals from all walks of life. However, the process is relatively easier for certain groups:

1. EU/EEA and Swiss Citizens: If you belong to these regions, you have the freedom to pack your bags and relocate to Spain without the need for a Spanish visa. You can live and work in Spain for up to three months. However, if your stay extends beyond three months, additional legal steps must be taken.

2. Non-EU/EEA/Swiss Citizens: Individuals from non-EU/EEA/Swiss countries must acquire a temporary residence permit if they intend to stay in Spain for more than three months. To become eligible for permanent residency, they must maintain continuous residence in Spain for five years.

Moving to Spain as an EU Citizen

As an EU citizen, you enjoy certain rights and privileges when moving to Spain. You have the freedom to seek employment, pursue studies in other EU member states, and travel freely within the EU without an entry visa. However, when relocating to Spain, EU citizens must register with the Central Register of Foreign Nationals and obtain a residence certificate within three months of arrival. This can be done at a Foreigners' Office or a local police station. They must also apply for an NIE number.

Moving to Spain as a Non-EU Citizen

For non-EU citizens planning to move to Spain, the specific long-stay visa and residence permit required will depend on the purpose of your relocation. A long-stay visa is necessary to apply for a residence permit, allowing you to reside in Spain for an extended period. Here's how you can move to Spain for more than three months based on your purpose:

1. Moving to Spain for Work: Non-EU citizens cannot simply relocate to Spain and seek employment without obtaining a work visa. Work visas are available for individuals with specific skills in professions experiencing a shortage of workers. Highly skilled individuals can also apply for an EU Blue Card, which grants them the opportunity to work in positions with worker shortages.

2. Moving to Spain for Study: To obtain a study visa, you must first be enrolled in an accredited educational institution in Spain, and then apply for a student visa. Once you arrive in Spain, you will need to obtain a Foreigner Identity Card (TIE) as proof of legal stay for more than six months. While studying, you may be allowed to work part-time or in temporary positions as long as it does not interfere with your studies.

3. Moving to Spain for Family Reunification: If you have a family member who is a legal resident of Spain, you can join them by applying for a family reunification visa. However, before applying for a family visa, your family member must renew their residence permit. The application for a family visa can be submitted at the Spanish diplomatic missions in your home country.

4. Moving to Spain for Retirement: Although there isn't a designated retirement visa, Spain offers alternative pathways for retirement. The Golden Visa, also known as the Spain Investor Visa, and the Non-Lucrative Visa are popular options among foreign retirees. To qualify, you must have a clear criminal record and meet specific financial requirements, demonstrating financial independence. Both visas can also lead to permanent residency in Spain.

Minimum Income in Spain for Residency

If you are a non-EU national and are applying for residency in Spain, you will need to make sure you have sufficient economic means to support yourself and any family members.

As of 2023, the minimum income requirement for an individual is €2,400 per month.

You will also need to have a further income of €600 per month for each family member who is joining you in Spain. See the link above for full details.

Obtaining Permanent Residency in Spain

Residing legally in Spain for a continuous period of five years grants individuals the right to become permanent residents. However, certain groups may be eligible for permanent residency before completing the full five-year requirement:

1. Workers or Self-Employed Individuals: Those who have reached the pension age after working and residing in Spain for more than three years.

2. Self-Employed Individuals and Early Retirement: Individuals who have worked in Spain for the preceding 12 months and lived there for more than three years, and subsequently take early retirement.

3. Permanent Incapacity to Work: Individuals who have resided in Spain for more than two years and had to stop working due to permanent incapacity.

4. Retention of Residence: Workers or self-employed individuals who, after three years of working and living in Spain, work in another EU member state but still maintain their residence in Spain.

Register on the Padron

One of the essential steps to ensure a smooth transition and integration into the local community is registering on the Padron. The Padron, or "empadronamiento" in Spanish, refers to the municipal register maintained by the town hall or local council. Although it may seem like a bureaucratic process, registering on the Padron offers numerous benefits and is a crucial requirement for residents in Spain. This article explores why registering on the Padron is essential and provides an overview of the advantages it brings.

Valencia town hall

Why Register on the Padron?:

1. Legal Requirement: Registering on the Padron is a legal obligation for individuals residing in Spain for more than six months. By doing so, you comply with Spanish residency regulations, demonstrating your commitment to integrating into the local community and following the established legal procedures.

2. Access to Public Services: Being on the Padron allows you to access a range of public services, including healthcare, education, and social assistance programs. Registration ensures that local authorities are aware of the population residing in their municipality, enabling them to allocate resources efficiently and effectively.

3. Voting Rights: Registering on the Padron grants you the right to vote in local and European Union elections. Participating in the democratic process allows you to have a say in local affairs, helping shape the development of your new community.

4. Fiscal Benefits: Some regions in Spain offer tax advantages and subsidies for individuals registered on the Padron. These benefits can include reduced property taxes, lower public transportation fees, and eligibility for various grants and subsidies.

5. Proof of Residence: Registering on the Padron provides official proof of residence, which is often required for various administrative procedures. This documentation may be necessary when opening a bank account, enrolling children in school, obtaining a driver's licence, or applying for employment or social benefits.

Registering on the Padron is a vital step when moving to Spain, ensuring compliance with residency regulations and offering a multitude of benefits. From accessing public services to participating in local elections and enjoying potential tax advantages, being on the Padron facilitates integration and enhances your overall experience as a resident. Contact your local town hall or council to learn more about the specific requirements and procedures for registering on the Padron in your chosen municipality.

Embrace the opportunity to become an active member of your new community, embracing the vibrant Spanish lifestyle while enjoying the rights and privileges of being a registered resident.

Open a Spanish Bank Account

Opening a bank account in Spain brings convenience and cost savings. With a local account, you can easily pay rent, withdraw money, make purchases, and transfer funds within Spain and the EU. Avoid unnecessary conversion rates and bank charges associated with foreign cards. Simplify your financial transactions and enjoy seamless banking experiences by opening a Spanish bank account.

Learn more about opening a bank account in Spain.

Exchange Your Driver’s Licence

If you hold a foreign driver's licence and are planning to drive in Spain, you have the opportunity to exchange it within a specific timeframe. Spain has agreements with several non-European countries, allowing for the exchange of foreign licences. To do so, you need to register with Spain's traffic authority, the Directorate-General for Traffic (DGT), within six months. Failure to meet this deadline will require you to undertake the Spanish driving theory and practical exams.

For EU or EEA nationals, the process is slightly different. Initially, you can utilise your original licence for a period of two years. However, once this period expires, it is mandatory to exchange it for a Spanish driver's licence.

By adhering to these guidelines and completing the necessary steps within the given timeframes, you can ensure a smooth transition and legal compliance regarding your driving privileges in Spain.

Find out how to exchange your driving licence.

Schooling in Spain

For families considering a move to Spain, understanding the education system is crucial when it comes to providing their children with the best educational opportunities. The Spanish school system offers a variety of options, both public and private, catering to different needs and preferences.

1. Compulsory Education: In Spain, education is compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 16. This period is divided into three stages: Educación Infantil (preschool), Educación Primaria (primary education), and Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (compulsory secondary education).

2. Public Schools: Public schools, known as colegios públicos, are funded and overseen by the government. They follow the Spanish national curriculum and provide education free of charge. Public schools are a popular choice for many families due to their accessibility and inclusivity.

3. Private Schools: Private schools, or colegios privados, are privately funded institutions that offer alternative educational approaches or specialised programs. These schools often have smaller class sizes and may offer bilingual or international curriculum options. Private schools require tuition fees, and admission may be competitive.

4. Bilingual Education: Many schools in Spain offer bilingual education programs, primarily in Spanish and English. These programs aim to develop proficiency in both languages and provide an international perspective. Bilingual schools can be found in various regions, especially in larger cities and areas with significant expatriate communities.

5. International Schools: For families seeking an education in their native language or an internationally recognised curriculum, international schools are available in Spain. These schools follow curricula such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the British or American systems. International schools are often more expensive but provide a seamless transition for expatriate families.

6. After-School Activities: Spanish schools typically offer a range of extracurricular activities, including sports, arts, music, and language clubs. These activities provide students with opportunities to pursue their interests, develop new skills, and socialise with peers.

It is important to note that each region in Spain has some degree of autonomy over its education system. As a result, there may be slight variations in curriculum and educational practices from one region to another. Researching and understanding the specific schooling options and requirements in your desired location is recommended.

When moving to Spain with children, exploring the different schooling options available and considering factors such as language preferences, curriculum, and accessibility will help you make an informed decision about their education. Engaging with local communities and seeking guidance from expatriate networks can also provide valuable insights into navigating the Spanish education system and ensuring a smooth transition for your children.

Learn more about choosing the right school for your child in Spain.

Spanish Citizenship and Voting Rights

Acquiring Spanish citizenship requires more than simply moving to Spain. After 10 years of legal residency in Spain with a valid residence permit, you become eligible to apply for citizenship. Other pathways to Spanish citizenship include citizenship by birth, by residency, by marriage, by descent, and by option. Spanish citizenship also grants you the right to vote.

Moving to Spain with Pets

Bringing your beloved pets to Spain is indeed possible, but there are specific regulations to follow for entry into Spanish territory. The rules may vary depending on the country you are travelling from. Here are some general guidelines for travelling with pets to Spain:

1. EU Nationals Entering Spain with Pets: When travelling with a pet from an EU country to Spain, certain requirements must be met:

Ensure your pet has a microchip implanted for identification purposes. The microchip should comply with ISO standards and be compatible with reading devices used in Spain.

Your pet must be vaccinated against rabies. The vaccination should be administered by a licensed veterinarian and be valid at the time of travel. It should be given at least 21 days before the travel date.

Obtain a valid European pet passport for your pet. This official document contains essential information such as microchip details, vaccination records, and owner identification.

For dogs, they must receive treatment against tapeworms (Echinococcus multilocularis) by a licensed veterinarian within 1 to 5 days prior to entering Spain. The treatment should be recorded in the pet passport.

It's important to check with the relevant authorities or consult your veterinarian for specific regulations based on your country of origin to ensure compliance when travelling with your pet from an EU country to Spain.

2. Non-EU Nationals Entering Spain with Pets: The requirements for non-EU pets entering Spain including those from the UK are the same as the above, however, the European Pet Passport is replaced with an Animal Health Certificate (AHC).

This document contains specific information about your pet, including its identity, health status, and rabies vaccination details, and follows a standardised model set by the EU.

To obtain the EU animal health certificate, it must be issued by an official State veterinarian in the country of departure no more than 10 days before your pet arrives in the EU. The certificate remains valid for travel between EU countries for a period of 4 months from the date of issuance or until the expiration of the anti-rabies vaccination, whichever comes first.

Additionally, it is necessary to complete and attach a written declaration to your pet's EU animal health certificate. This declaration confirms that the relocation of your pet is for non-commercial purposes. If your pet is travelling under the responsibility of an authorised person, the written declaration is still required. In such cases, your pet must be reunited with you within 5 days of your own relocation.


In conclusion, moving to Spain can be an exciting and rewarding experience for individuals and families looking for a new beginning. This complete guide has provided valuable information on various aspects of immigrating and settling in Spain.

Whether you are an EU citizen or a non-EU citizen, understanding the eligibility requirements and legal steps involved in the immigration process is crucial. From obtaining the necessary visas and residence permits to fulfilling financial and documentation requirements, careful planning and research are key to a successful move.

The Spanish education system offers a range of options for families with children, including public and private schools, bilingual education programs, and international schools. Considering factors such as curriculum, language preferences, and extracurricular activities can help parents make informed decisions about their children's education in Spain.

Furthermore, acquiring Spanish citizenship is a possibility for those who meet the residency criteria. After a period of legal residence, individuals may become eligible to apply for citizenship, which brings additional benefits such as the right to vote.

Lastly, for pet owners, understanding the regulations and requirements for bringing pets to Spain is essential. Compliance with microchipping, vaccination, and documentation procedures ensures a smooth entry for your furry companions into Spanish territory.

By following the guidelines and resources provided in this guide, individuals and families can navigate the process of immigrating and moving to Spain with confidence. Embrace the opportunities, immerse yourself in the rich culture, and enjoy the remarkable lifestyle that Spain has to offer.