Moving To Spain | All You Need To Know To Start a New Life

Charlotte Koks
Charlotte Koks

You’ve decided the time has come for moving to Spain. If you ask us, you can’t make a better choice. And it is not only because we’re locals. In fact, Spain is one of the best countries to move to in 2021.

We’ve prepared an article with everything you need to know to make it happen. Even if you’re still undecided, here you’ll find what you need to make up your mind. Believe us, in the end, you’ll be determined to pack your bags and get going.

Here, we’ll explain the paperwork necessary before arrival. Besides, we’ll look over visas and other aspects of coming to work and study in Spain. So, keep this article handy because it’ll make your life easier!

Moving To Spain | All You Need To Know To Start a New Life

Moving to Spain

Throughout our years of expertise taking adventurous souls like you to fulfill their dreams, we’ve built a lot of experience. And so, we know it is not easy to take such a big step. But, we also know it is quite worth it.

So, we’ve made sure to make the process easier so that your main concern will be mustering the courage. You can take our word for it, it’s worth it!

Benefits of Moving to Spain

Moving to Spain

Why moving to Spain? Here are 5 reasons to take the leap!

Moving to Spain gives you access to some of the best university cities

The Qs Best Students Cities of 2019, ranking lists three Spanish cities among the 100 best university cities worldwide. Barcelona is located in position 21, Madrid in position 27, and Valencia in position 74.

In addition, in the ranking of best universities for 2021, the University of Barcelona is in position 186. Additionally, the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid holds the number 20. And the Complutense de Madrid is in position 206 while the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona has the 213 spot.

Spain is one of the best countries to live in

From the list of the best countries to live in in 2020, Spain occupies position 19. Another 73 countries were evaluated. It stands out for being a destination that has strengthened its economy in the construction and tourism sectors.

Also, the climate of Spain is one of the sunniest in Europe. So, it is a very popular destination for tourists. Not to mention the friendliness of the people and world-class parties like the ones in Ibiza. You know what we mean 😉

Moving to Spain means moving to a Smart City

The rise of smart cities is not only about the use of resources but also about improving the living conditions of citizens. And, it is in this particular aspect that the cities of Spain stand out. Especially for their mobility and transport proposals.

According to the IESE Cities in Motion 2020 index, Madrid occupies the 24th worldwide position among smart cities. This was thanks to its air quality proposal with the Madrid 360 campaign. Barcelona occupies the 25th position after consolidating itself as the economic, financial, and cultural epicenter of Spain.

Spain is one of the most popular destinations in the world

Every year, Trip Advisor publishes the 25 most popular destinations in the world. Barcelona occupies the 9th position for tourist places such as the Picasso Museum, the Sagrada Familia. And, of course, Razzmatazz the best disco club. And those are only a few of Barcelona’s top attractions. Check out our article for more amazing landmarks!

In position 20 is Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Here, you’ll find the Loro Parque where you can see the diversity of species that the island has. And the Zoo Monkey Park to learn a little more about the native fauna. There is definitely no place for boredom in Spain!

More and more people are moving to Spain

According to the 2020 Expat Insider Survey, 4 of the best 10 cities to emigrate are in Spain. In the first position is Valencia for its leisure activities, health service, and its affordability. Have a look here at all you can enjoy in this marvelous city.

In the second position is Alicante, which stands out for its climate. In the sixth position is Malaga for its quality of life. And in ninth position Madrid for its cultural and environmental proposals.

In other words, moving to Spain, regardless of the city you choose, is the way to go! Maybe you’re thinking about agap year, maybe you’re looking to further your studies, or maybe something more permanent. In any case, there’s a city in Spain that will fulfill your needs.

What To Do If You Want to Move to Spain

Moving to Spain

There are different processes for moving to Spain. They depend on the type of nationality you have. If you are a citizen of the European Union the process will be easier. Also if you are part of the European Economic Union, the Schengen area, or have a family in Europe.

But, if you don’t have any of these nationalities or any of the conditions described above, don’t worry! The country has options for everyone. So, before traveling to Spain, check:

  • Your nationality status.
  • The different visas for moving to Spain.
  • Requirements for living in Spain.
  • What you must do to extend your stay.

So, with these generalities in mind, let’s look over the two different processes in detail. Are you ready?

Moving to Spain with a European passport

Moving to Spain with a European Passport

If you are an EU citizen, you do not need to process any of the visas for Spain. Furthermore, thanks to the existing agreement, you only need to present your national identity document or European passport. Awesome! But, there are still some aspects that you must take into account to emigrate to Spain.

Registration as a resident after a three-month stay

With your national identity document, you have permission to reside for up to three months in any EU country. After this time, the authorities may request your identification number and certification that explains your presence in the country:

  • Student: copy of the registration or enrollment to a course that certifies that you are going to study in Spain. Payment of medical insurance and certificate of funds for support.
  • Employee: work certificate.
  • Independent worker: certificate stating this condition.
  • Pensioner: health certificate and income certificate for support.

After obtaining the permit, do not forget that the issuance of the residence certificate is immediate. Also that its validity is indefinite and you must update it in case of moving from one city to another.

Permanent Spanish residency after five years

If you have been in for more than five consecutive years in Spain, you acquire permanent residence. Just as in all other countries belonging to the European Union. What if you spend a few months in other countries like Ireland? The following situations do not affect residency after moving to Spain:

  • Absences of less than six months.
  • Returning to your country of origin to present military service.
  • Leaving the country due to pregnancy, job transfer, illness.

Remember: if you leave Spain for two or more consecutive years, you will lose the right of permanent residence.

Permanent residence in Spain before five years have passed 

It is possible to obtain permanent residence for moving to Spain before the five years have elapsed. But you must comply with any of the following conditions:

  • Worked for three years in a row in Spain, and occasionally going to work in another EU country.
  • Suffered Laboral incapacity while working in Spain.
  • Lived in Spain for two years in a row, but stopped working in Spain due to some type of disability.

What if you are not a European citizen but have family in Europe?

If your partner is a Spanish resident or has a study and work permit, you can get residence too. Also, this works if your parents or grandparents have Spanish nationality. You must certify your relationship with the European citizen (known as a domestic partnership), have a valid passport and visa.

IMPORTANT! Remember that due to Brexit, England is no longer a country of the European Union. If you have British nationality and want to emigrate to Spain, you must complete the process as a non-European citizen.

Don’t worry, we’ll get into detail for that next!

Moving to Spain without a European passport


If you are not a European citizen, you need to meet a series of requirements to emigrate to Spain. For this, there are two important points: the reason for your trip and how long you are going to stay.

After you define this, the next step for moving to Spain is selecting the appropriate visa. Although they may seem similar, not all are applicable to all nationalities nor do they have the same costs. This is the general classification:

Visa types for moving to Spain

Stay Visas

This category of visas for Spain is generally requested to travel in Spain, study, or volunteer. They are also classified into two:

  • Short-term visas: stay of three months, maximum of six months. With it you can study a short course.
  • Long-term visas: maximum stay of one year. Allows you to study and travel, but you can only work 20 hours a week.
Residency Visa (temporary)

In this category are the residence visas in Spain that are requested mainly for work reasons. Here are the types of Spanish visas most in demand:

  • Non-profit visa: you can stay for three months in the country as a resident. In this time you can study, but not work.
  • Residence visa for someone else: you must be over 16 years old. It allows you to remain more than three months and less than five years. To access it you must have a prior contract with a Spanish company.
  • Self-employment residence visa: you must be over 18 years old. It allows you to remain more than three months and less than five years. Your income comes from a commercial activity that you carry out on your own.

What to do to access permanent residency

Gran Vía Spain

The process is easier if you have a (temporary) residence visa. Upon completing 5 continuous years after moving to Spain you will be able to access permanent residence in Spain.

What’s the difference? Temporary residence visas authorize you a first-year and two renewals of two years each.

On the other hand, the permanent residence card is valid for 5 years. If you stay ten years continuously in the country, you can apply for Spanish nationality.

Now, there’s another interesting fact you should be aware of. If you hold a temporary residence visa for at least three continuous years, you can apply for a permanent residency.

Can you access permanent residence if you have a Stay Visa?

Yes! But the year count is different. If you were in Spain for three years with a stay visa because you were studying, they will only be worth 50%. So, for practical purposes, only 1.5 years will be counted. If you last the same time on a residence visa, the full years will be counted.

You can start with a stay visa and then renew to access a residence visa. Just don’t forget how the times are counted to make your application for permanent residence!

Moving to Spain as a student


If your idea is to study in any Spanish city, you must meet the requirements to emigrate to Spain. This is a list of the requirements that the Iberian country requests to allow you to enter.

Basic requirements for moving to Spain

Girl ready to travel

So, by now, you must have at least a general idea of the type of visa you need. Now, let’s have a look at the basic requirements to make your dream of moving to Spain a reality.

Have a current passport

When filling your application for moving to Spain, you must have your passport up to date. It must be valid at the time of application. And it must remain valid for as long as you are going to reside in the country.

Apply for one of the Spanish visas.

If you are not going to stay more than 90 days in Spain, a tourist visa will be ideal for you. It allows you to travel and study at the same time. And it is likely your country won’t even require it. Now, if you are going to stay longer, a short-term visa is what you need. That’s because it will allow you to study and live in Spain for between three to six months.

If your studies or work require you to stay more than six months, you must apply for a long-term visa. Remember that you must process the Foreigner Identity Number (NIE), if the stay is three months. And, if it is more than six months old, then you must get a Foreigner Identity Card (TIE).

Have a court record certificate and medical certificate

The non-criminal record certificate is a requirement in all countries. The goal is to verify that you are a good citizen. And that you are not going to compromise the safety of others.

The medical certificate is requested by the Government to ensure, on the one hand, that you are in good health.

More importantly that you do not have any contagious diseases such as tuberculosis or COVID-19. On the other hand, it is to determine if you suffer from any disease. And, more importantly, what type of medical attention you may need.

Have an international medical insurance

In all the countries you are going to travel to, you are going to need international medical insurance. In this way, you will be able to guarantee your access to any medical service, be it a medical consultation, access to medicines, or hospitalization.

Have proof of visit to the Iberian country

To emigrate to Spain you will need a certification of the reason for your trip. This must be a course enrollment, letter of invitation from a resident (friend or relative), employment contract or volunteer certificate.

Present sufficient economic funds certificate

You must verify a sufficient income before applying for the visa for moving to Spain. This will allow the Government to know that you can support yourself throughout your stay. And that you can buy the tickets back home.

Present proof of accommodation

When moving to Spain it is important that you prove that you have a place to stay. You can certify it in many ways. A hotel reservation for at least two weeks and a work or study certificate that matches that address.

In addition to these requirements, you must correctly fill out the type 2 visa form. Additionally, you must bring two document-type photos with a white background and proof of payment of the consular fee.

Frequently Asked Questions About Moving to Spain

Visit other cities

After taking in all this information, you probably still have questions. Well, don’t worry about it. As always, we’re here to help you out! So, here are some of the most frequently asked questions about moving to Spain.

Which documents need an apostille?

These are the documents you’ll need to legalize before moving to Spain:

  • Certificate of judicial records of recent years. No type of copy is accepted, it must be correctly apostilled.
  • Official certificates to prove your education level. This is one of the requirements to study a bachelor’s or master’s degree in Spain. Copies are not accepted either!
  • Civil or marriage records, to certify relationship with European citizens.
  • The medical certificate is another document that must be apostilled.

When should I validate my past studies for moving to Spain?

It is necessary to validate your academic degrees in two cases. First, to gain access to higher education programs. And second, for a job that asks for specific knowledge of a technical or university program.

Can I request an extension to my stay in Spain?

Yes, you can request an additional period to live in Spain. However, this is possible only if you request it 60 days before your visa expires. For short-term visas, the renewal period includes an additional 90 days for a maximum stay of six months.

If it is a student visa (or long-term) or a residence visa (temporary), you can renew your time of stay. This can be done as long as you certify that the reason why you are going to be in the country is the same as the nature of your visa. That is, if you have a student visa, the reason is to continue your studies and not work.

Can I bring my pet?

Yes! Your adventure partner can accompany you in this new experience. To travel with pets to Spain you must take into account the import regulations for pets. Also, you need veterinary health certificates and comply with the conditions of the airline to travel.

About the author

Charlotte Koks
Charlotte Koks

Hey there! My name is Charlotte, and I'm working as an International Project Manager at GrowPro Experience. My goal is to help students all around the world to live the experiences of a lifetime 🙌🏽. I'm trying to inspire students by means of telling the story of former growers, showing what we are doing at each destination and writing about our cities and tips on our blogs. I got a big passion for adventures, doing sports in the park, learning new languages and seeing new places 🌏. That's one of the reasons why I studied European Studies and why I currently work for GrowPro, to expand my horizons. Hopefully, I can inspire you to do the same!

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