Moving abroad can be quite a challenging affair, especially if you do not speak the local language. Here, we have compiled an overview of all the most important paperwork and how/where you can get it done, so that your new beginning will go more smoothly than ours.


The key, mainly bureaucratic steps you will need to complete when moving to Spain are as follows:


  1. NIE number, i.e. a foreigner’s identity number: If you have purchased real estate in Spain, you will already have an NIE number, as it is, among other things, a prerequisite for owning real estate. You will also need one if you are just moving here and, for example, renting a place. Without an NIE number it is virtually impossible to conclude any important transactions in Spain: all contracts, including phone and internet service contracts as well as employment contracts, require you to have one. However, obtaining an NIE number is actually not that difficult – an NIE number can be applied for both via the Spanish embassy in your home country as well as on the spot in Spain. To apply for one in Spain, you will generally need to book an appointment with the relevant authorities online. Depending on the region, NIE numbers are issued by either the local police station or aliens’ office.


  1. Social security number: In addition to an NIE number, you will need a social security number to join the local social security system. This is required for your employer in order to be able to register you as an employee or, for example, for a pensioner to join the local social security system. Many employers will take care of the paperwork to obtain this number for their employees themselves, as employers can apply for it quickly and easily over the internet. Nevertheless, some may neglect to do so either due to ignorance or lack of time. Therefore, it is always wise to apply for your Spanish social security number in advance at the local social security office. The process is fairly quick and simple, but the exact time it will take may depend on the region.


  1. Padrón, or empadronamiento: This is the official registration of your address in Spain. It can usually be applied for at the local city government, for which you will also need to prove that you are actually residing at the indicated address. In some regions, a local police officer will even visit the residence to verify that the information provided is true. In general, however, it will suffice to simply submit the rental or real estate purchase agreement and, for example, a water or electricity bill addressed to the applicant. Registering on the padrón is required in order to be able to apply for a health insurance card or a residency certificate.


  1. Residency: Under Spanish law, persons who wish to reside in Spain for more than 3 months are required to apply for residency, or a ‘green card’. In reality however, many Europeans living in Spain have not done so. This is generally not a problem for pensioners, but if you need to send your children to school, you may be asked for a residency certificate. Likewise, if you wish to obtain a mortgage from a local bank under more favourable terms, having all your paperwork in order will make things much easier for you.


Currently, for example there is a big problem in Spain for people from the UK, which, as we know, has left the European Union. Those who have been living here for years, but have never applied for residency, are facing serious difficulties, because they may only stay in Spain for 90 days in any 183-day period. Non-EU nationals can also apply for residency in Spain, but for them the process is considerably more difficult than for nationals of an EU member state.


Applying for residency can seem like a rather daunting process at first. It was still very easy just 7 years ago, until Spain decided to make the process a bit more complicated for everyone. Under the current rules, an applicant for residency must prove to the state that they can support themselves financially and will not be a burden to the state. Thus, in addition to the padrón certificate, NIE number, passport, etc., applicants for residency must also submit, for example, bank statements, proof of having local health insurance or health insurance with precisely defined terms, an employment contract if employed, proof of having a sufficient amount of money in a bank if unemployed, etc.


Altogether, in order to apply for residency, you will need the following:


  • NIE number;
  • passport;
  • completed residency application form;
  • two passport photos;
  • proof of income;
  • proof of health insurance (public or private);
  • a Spanish bank account;
  • employment contract / registration as a self-employed person in the state register / pension certificate if you are a pensioner;
  • if you are neither employed nor a pensioner, a certain amount of money held in a Spanish bank account, generally for at least 3 months, but the requirements vary greatly depending on the region.


  1. SIP card, or local health insurance card: Both locals and foreigners need a health insurance card to access the highly acclaimed Spanish healthcare system. In Costa Blanca, the SIP card can be obtained from a local family health centre, and to apply for one, you will need to submit proof (issued by a social security office) that you are eligible to join the system, plus your passport, NIE number, and padrón certificate – your address will determine which family health centre you are registered with. If all of the documents are in order, the SIP card will be issued at the family health centre relatively quickly and painlessly.


The Lexlau team can help you on the spot with all of the aforementioned transactions. 


Why move to Spain?


1) The first thing that comes to mind when considering this question is, of course, the climate: in Costa Blanca, the sun shines practically all year round – as much 325 days a year. Northeastern Europe, in comparison, only gets an average of 70–75 days of sunshine a year.


Why is sunlight good for your body?

  • Vitamin D boosts the immune system and ensures strong bones and teeth, a good metabolism, and a stable nervous system and muscle function. Vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets in children and contribute to soft bones and osteoporosis in adults.
  • Sunlight helps increase the levels of serotonin – the ‘happy hormone’ – in the body, making you calmer, more positive, and more focused. Seasonal affective disorder does not exist in Costa Blanca, Spain.
  • Regular exposure to a small amount of sunlight can help relieve several skin conditions, such as psoriasis and vitiligo.


But sunshine is not the only thing that makes the climate of Spain so pleasant: the air temperature also stays at a relatively steady level throughout the year. Summer in Spain lasts about 6 months, running from May to October. While it does rain more during the winter months, the temperature generally still stays around 20 degrees during the day, and sunlight is guaranteed on most days. Here, you can also forget about the pervasive darkness of northern climates: even in the winter months the sun only goes down at about 6 o’clock in the evening. The temperate climate allows you to enjoy breakfast on the balcony, go hiking in the woods, or visit the beach for a bit of sunbathing all year round.


2) Attitudes towards life: For Spaniards, family and health are the most important things in life, which is probably why life expectancy in Spain is the third highest in the world and the highest in Europe – at 83.3 years. Meanwhile, the current life expectancy in Latvia is 75.7 years, while in Russia it is 73 years. Life in Spain is a canvas painted with carefree attitudes, olive oil, weekend gatherings of relatives, cordiality, caring for one another, and disregard for money and materialism. Spaniards pay no mind to who has the fancier car or who can work harder. When you move to Spain, you too will discover what is truly valuable in life. You will learn to relax and focus less on the unimportant details of life.

3) Healthcare: The high life expectancy that the Spanish enjoy is undoubtedly at least in part thanks to the local healthcare system. It is truly one of the best in the world: the hospitals are modern, the physicians highly skilled, the waiting times to see specialist doctors short, the system easily accessible, and in many regions the doctors also speak English.

4) Spanish cuisine: In terms of cuisine, Spain is a rich and varied country, and every Spanish dinner is accompanied by local wine, which is generally extremely cheap and delicious.

5) The cost of living is somewhat higher in Spain than in Eastern Europe, but so are the minimum wage and average wage. Of course, in Spain, the cost of living also largely depends on the region, but Costa Blanca can be considered one of the cheaper regions.


Listing all of the reasons for why Spain is such a great place to live in would take forever, so we simply invite you to just come spend at least one season here to see for yourself what all the fuss is about.



‘There are no impossible dreams, just our limited perception of what is possible.’