Moving to Spain? Basic checklist

Raymundo LarraĆ­n Nesbitt, June, 1. 2023

Marbella-based Larraín Nesbitt Lawyers has over 20 years' taxation & conveyancing experience at your service. We offer a wide range of 50 legal and corporate services. Our team of native English-speaking lawyers and economists have a long track record successfully assisting expats all over Spain. You can review here our client’s testimonials.

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On moving to Spain, you should tick the below basic checklist to avoid you any future problems.

1. Residency or visa permit. Most people don’t realise that living in Spain for over 90 consecutive days entails you apply for a permit. Depending on whether you are a EU national, or not, you will have to apply for residency or else a visa.

  • If European resident: If you plan to spend over 90 consecutive days in Spain, you must apply for a residency permit, even if you are a national from an EU country. Attaining residency in Spain is fairly straightforward, fast and cheap procedure for all EU residents. Residency permits are fast-tracked and streamlined for all nationals of Member states of the EU by law. Normally achieved in under 30 days.
  • If non-European resident: If you plan to spend over 3 consecutive months in Spain, and reside outside of the Union, you are normally required to apply for a visa to live and work in Spain legally. There are many different Spanish visas available to pick from, ranging form tax-free visas (Digital Nomad Visa), to Golden Visas (which don’t require you to live in Spain for renewal purposes). You may not spend in Spain over 90 days in every rolling 180 days if you have not attained a visa permit (known as the 90/180-day rule). Depending on which visa you choose, it can take under 30 days or well over half a year. 

2. Bank account. For almost any activity in Spain, you will be required to open a bank account. Spanish banks take money-laundering very seriously (understatement). Unless you can clearly prove where your money comes from, they will not open an account for you. The following documents are required:

  • Passport in force
  • Payslips or tax returns
  • Your international tax code
  • Reference letter
  • Other.

3. NIE number. A NIE number is ad administrative number required to pay taxes in Spain. Almost everyone in Spain will ask you for this number. It is required, for example, for the following activities:

  • Buying/selling/renting property.
  • Inheriting assets in Spain.
  • Importing/buying/selling a car.
  • Importing/buying/selling a boat.
  • Taking out insurance.
  • Working in Spain (only short-term jobs <3 months).
  • Obtaining a mortgage loan.
  • ·Paying import tariffs on importing goods to Spain at customs (aduanas) in airports.
  • Some private foreign schools require a NIE number from parents and/or new (foreign) pupils to enrol them!

4. Work. If you are an EU-resident, you won’t have issues. But nationals of countries from outside the EU require a work permit to find a job in Spain. Otherwise, they will be barred from working in Spain and subject to heavy fines, including the employer.

5. Taxes. If you are a freelancer (self-employed) you need to ensure that you are correctly registered with the Spanish Social Security and filing your quarterly tax returns (for both personal income tax and VAT). If you are employed, your employer will enrol you in Spain’s Social Security. Depending on your wage, you will be required to file annual tax returns.

6. Accommodation: buying, investing or renting property in Spain. The best advice we can give you is that taking advice from a lawyer before committing to any route will pre-empt most of the problems. At LNA, we have over two decades experience dealing with conveyance and rentals

To close, if you spend over 183 days a year in Spain, you become tax resident. Speak to one of our lawyers to better understand the full legal and tax implications of making this decision.

At LNA, we can assist you with all six points above. LNA can be your legal partner in Spain, assisting you and your family with relocation services. Give us a call and speak to one of our friendly staff. We act nationwide.

At Larrain Nesbitt Abogados we have over 20 years’ of experience buying, selling, and renting properties. We are also specialized in immigration & residency visas. You can contact us by e-mail at, by telephone on (+34) 952 19 22 88, or by completing our contact form to book an appointment.

Larraín Nesbitt Abogados, small on fees, BIG on service.

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