move to spain

Emigrate to Spain. Passport and suitcase
[Updated 2024] Emigrate to Spain ⭐ The definitive guide

Emigrating to Spain in search of new opportunities, work or studies is the decision made every year by hundreds of thousands of people around the world. However, the process can be complicated depending on the country of origin and the length of time you wish to remain within Spanish territory. Therefore, it is very important that you inform yourself very well before starting this adventure. Because some procedures must be carried out in the country of origin. 

To help you with this path that you are going to begin to travel, at the Luis Vives Study Center we have prepared this guide with the steps you must follow to move to Spain. Specifically, this guide is designed for those people who come from a country that does not belong to the European Union and is not Norway, Iceland, Switzerland or Liechtenstein. If you live in any of these countries, our colleagues at the Luis Vives Spanish School have prepared this guide for you.

What you should know before moving to Spain

Below we give you some tips so that you know where to start your planning to emigrate to Spain, these are some things that you should plan before starting any procedure.

  1. You must think about how long you want to be in the country, the procedures are different if you are going to stay in Spain for more than 90 days.
  2. If you are a student, you must find out about the studies you want to enroll in. You should know if you need an access test, such as university studies or higher-level training cycles. If this is your case, you are very interested in reading esto.
  3. If you are going to work, we recommend that you start looking for work before traveling to Spain. If you get a job, the process will be much easier.
  4. Plan the first months, choose a city to live in and investigate how expensive life is in that place. Study rental prices, food and services. 
  5. Save enough before traveling, keep in mind that the currency used in Spain is the euro. This can cause you to lose purchasing power when exchanging currencies. For example, when going from soles to euros in the case of Peru.
  6. If your native language is not Spanish, we recommend that you start your Spanish studies in the months before coming to Spain. You can also sign up for a Spanish class immediately after arriving in the country.

What documentation do I need to work or study in Spain as a foreigner? The steps to follow as well as the documentation you will need to immigrate to Spain vary depending on the country of origin. The main distinction is made between community or equivalent countries (EU, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein), and non-community countries such as Iran or Morocco. 

What procedures should I complete before emigrating to Spain?

If you are thinking about moving to Spain you should consider some questions before coming.

Get your passport

In order to enter the country you will need to provide a passport that is valid during your stay in Spain. Therefore, before traveling you should make sure that the dates are appropriate and renew it or get it in case it is going to expire soon or you do not have it. To get your passport you must go to the organization in your country where they are issued. You can generally make an appointment or find information to apply for your passport online. This is the case of Colombia on the Foreign Ministry's page, or Peru on the platform of the Peruvian State. If for some reason you lose this document once inside the country, you must go to a consulate where they will provide you with safe passage while they process a new passport.

Get your national visa for Spain 

The visa is an essential document to be able to emigrate to Spain if you do not have a European or Spanish passport. To obtain this you must make an appointment at the Spanish consulate of the country where you reside and present the visa application there along with the necessary documentation. As a basis, the documentation that anyone wishing to apply for a visa must present is:

  • National visa application form completed for the visa you want.
  • Passport size photograph (26×32 mm) in color and with a light background of your face. It is preferable that you avoid wearing glasses or clothing that hides your face.
  • Valid and current passport (at least 120 days of validity remaining).
  • Criminal record certificate issued by the country of origin or countries where you have lived in the last 5 years. It must be less than 3 months old.
  • Documentation proving that you have a private medical insurance policy with permission to operate in Spain. It must cover at least 30000 euros in addition to hospitalization and repatriation.
  • Proof of financial solvency, especially with student or job search visas. 
  • Medical certificate proving that you do not suffer from a disease with serious repercussions on public health (WHO regulations are followed).
  • Original and copy of the air ticket reservation with the estimated date for the trip.

You must keep in mind that there are different types of visas. Each one also requires extra documentation that you must also present at the time of application. For example, on a study visa you will be asked for proof of admission to your studies signed by the management of the center where you are going to study (school or university). If you are going to work, they will also ask you for the employment contract and the initial residence and work authorization signed by the employer and issued by the corresponding Government Delegation. Additionally, if the documentation is not in Spanish, an official legalized translation must be provided. On the other hand, if a document is not given by an official body, it must be apostilled, generally using the Hague Apostille.

Once all the documentation has been delivered along with the application, it will take between 1 and 2 months to respond. You should keep in mind that they may ask you for additional documentation, and in some cases even call you for a personal interview. For example, they may ask you for a document indicating where you will live in the days following your arrival in Spain. It can be a rental contract, an invitation from a family member or a stay in a hotel or residence of more than two weeks.

It is possible that you want to emigrate to Spain and your visa is denied, even if you have provided all the necessary information. So make sure you book your trip early enough to cancel if necessary. If your visa is denied, you should find out the reasons and go through the application process again later, or file an appeal if your situation allows it.

Procedures that you must carry out when arriving in Spain

Once you have entered Spanish territory you must finish legalizing your situation, to do this you will have to take a few more steps.

Get a place of residence

The place of residence may be a requirement when granting the visa, so we recommend that you obtain it even before leaving for Spain. However, if you do not have any family members with whom you can live or a rental contract, you can choose to stay in a pension for the first weeks after your arrival. Keep in mind that as we mentioned previously, hotel or guesthouse reservations must be longer than two weeks. 

Many people who want to emigrate to Spain think about Madrid or Barcelona. When looking for a rental home, we recommend avoiding these large cities. In these places the rental prices are very high. However, these cities are well connected to nearby cities and towns with lower prices that present themselves as good alternatives. If you prefer proximity to the center of these cities, you can choose to share a flat, rent a room or live in a residence if you are a university student.

emigrate to Spain political map Madrid
Political map of Madrid

Communicate your place of residence: register in the registry

Once you find the place where you are going to reside regularly, you must notify the competent authority. In this case it will be the town hall of the town where the home is located. To do this you must register in the Register (register), for which you will have to present the following documentation:

  • You must fill out and present the individual or Collective Registration form. In some places it is known as the registration sheet or resident registration form.
  • A photocopy and the original of one or more documents that prove the use of the home. For example: home purchase and sale contract, home deeds, rental contract, invoices or supply contracts.
  • The authorization signed by the owner of a family member or friend in case you are going to live with them. Keep in mind that you must be the owner of the home to be able to carry out the procedure. You must include this authorization in the registration form.
  • If you have minor children, you will also need a photocopy and the original of their passports and visas or identity documents, in addition to the family book.

Get your foreigner identification number or NIE

This is the personal identification number that is assigned to all nationals of other countries who emigrate to Spain. It is a personal and non-transferable number that does not expire once you obtain it and will only cease to be valid if you obtain Spanish nationality. The NIE is necessary to be able to carry out some important activities in Spain, such as opening a bank account, registering for social security or accepting job offers and therefore obtaining a work contract. This means that if you travel to Spain with an employment contract already signed, during the process you will have already obtained an NIE as well as a social security affiliation number.

Requesting the NIE is a procedure that can be done from Spain or from your country of residence. Therefore, in some cases you will be able to complete this step before emigrating to Spain. If you do it from your country, you must go to the Spanish consulate or embassy so you will have to make an appointment to submit the application and provide the documents. If, on the other hand, you are already within Spanish territory, you must present the application and documentation to the general directorate of the police. To do this, the most common way is to go to the general immigration police station closest to you and request an appointment for the processing and provision of documentation. The main documentation that you must provide is:

  • Completed EX15 foreigner identity number application form
  • Form 790 code 012 and proof of payment of the associated fee.

In addition to this, they may ask you for additional information that you should have prepared:

  • Passport and copy of all pages. 
  • Document accrediting entry into Spain, it can be the stamp of your own passport or the plane ticket with which you traveled to the country.
  • Certificate of registration.
  • Document that justifies why you need a NIE. For example, a study visa, a job application or a deposit contract for a property.
  • Passport-sized color photographs with a white background.

Once you get the NIE you will be able to move towards your goal, the foreigner identity card or TIE.

Get the foreigner identity card or TIE

Obtaining this card is the last challenge that anyone who wants to move to Spain from outside the European Union must go through. This document represents your official registration in the central registry of foreign citizens and is mandatory if you are going to reside in Spain for more than six months. That is, once you have let the local authorities know that you will reside in Spain and in that home, you must receive authorization at the national level. Keep in mind that you must start the TIE application during the first month of your stay in Spain, so you must make an appointment as soon as possible. 

To request an appointment you must access the government electronic headquarters, select a province and the procedure “POLICE-TAKING FINGERPRINTS (ISSUE OF CARD) AND RENEWAL OF LONG-DURATION CARD” if you are a student or worker. On the other hand, if you are an entrepreneur you must select the procedure “POLICE-ISSUE OF CARDS WHOSE AUTHORIZATION IS RESOLVED BY THE GENERAL DIRECTORATE OF MIGRATION”. Once you have the appointment, you must appear in person before the documentation unit of the national police of the province where you live. This unit is usually in the foreigners office or immigration office, or in police stations with a designated area for this. The documentation that may be required of you on the day of the appointment, and that you must therefore present, is:

  • Appointment receipt
  • Fee payment form 709 (code 012) [link rel='nofollow'] filled out and printed.
  • Bank receipt for payment of fee 709, which must be paid before the date of the appointment.
  • Filled out EX17 form (students and workers) or Mi-TIE form (investors, entrepreneurs, digital nomads, highly qualified professionals or researchers).
  • Application for registration certificate.
  • Recent passport-sized color photograph with a light or white background.
  • Visa or copy of the administrative resolution where residence is granted.

The time to obtain the TIE is approximately 45 days, during that time you will have a receipt that will allow you to do some paperwork and pick it up at the designated place.

Get your social security number 

This step will not be necessary if you already have a job or if you are not going to work, such as a full-time student, as long as you do not do an internship. The Social Security number (NUSS or SSN) will allow you to work in Spain and collect subsidies, benefits or pensions, as well as access to public healthcare. If you move to Spain as a citizen of the European Union and assimilated, you can obtain it directly at an office of the General Treasury of Social Security or through its website. You will need to provide the following information:

  • Photocopy and original of your passport
  • Certificate of registration
  • Original and photocopy of your TIE
  • A working email address
  • A passport size photograph
  • Model TA.1 Membership Application/Social Security Number completed using capital letters and printed.

Keep in mind that if you are already working with a legal contract, your Social Security registration will have been processed by your employer. You can review it on the website of the General Treasury of Social Security.

Final considerations for those who wish to emigrate to Spain

Finally we add some extra advice and information to make your experience with the procedures more bearable.

  • Documents that are not in Spanish must be accompanied by a sworn and legalized translation. For this, the Hague Apostille will be used. If you come from a country that is not a signatory to the Hague Convention, you will need legalization through diplomatic channels. To do this you must contact the competent government agency.
  • Minors will need authorization from their parents to obtain the visa. Likewise, the presence of the parents will be required when requesting the NIE in addition to their documentation and the family book. In the case of divorce, you may be asked for a copy of the judgment for some procedure and authorization from both parents in case of shared custody.
  • If you are a student you will not need a social security number unless you want to work. However, you should know that the study visa implies that you must be able to guarantee such full-time studies. Therefore you will have to provide evidence indicating that work and studies are compatible. Furthermore, work cannot constitute your main means of economic support.
  • Those who travel to Spain with a student visa can apply for a companion visa for their parents or partner. However, the status of companion prevents him from working during the stay. Therefore, you must demonstrate that you have sufficient financial means for both.
  • To demonstrate sufficient financial means, an employment contract will be required in the case of an employed worker, registration in the commercial registry of your business in the case of self-employed workers and entrepreneurs, or a responsible declaration and the income history of the last months in a bank account accessible by the person if they are a student or unemployed. You must keep in mind that the income each month must be higher than the IPREM at that time.

Now you know what are the main procedures you must carry out to be able to emigrate to Spain. From the Luis Vives Study Center we hope that this guide serves as guidance and we remind you that if you want to access the Spanish educational system we are at your disposal to help you. More than 25 years of experience support us!