In general, it is best to contact us directly to better assess your situation, as well as the particular requirements in order to live and work in Barcelona. However, in general, if you are not a Spanish citizen, and moving to Barcelona, you need to know the following:
- Rental/Home-purchase agreement: oddly enough, you do not have to be a legal resident first, or even buy property, in order to rent or buy a home. In fact, you need proof of residency, such as a lease, in order to register as a resident: “Empadronamiento”
- Certificado de Empadronamiento: you will need this document to prove that you are a resident, as well as to apply for the identification number needed for most things. The process is relatively simple. You just need to take any form of identification, plus a lease or purchase agreement.
- Número de Identificación de Extranjero or NIE for short: this is the foreigner’s identification number. It is the most essential of all the documents. With this number/card, you can apply for the national health system, apply for a VAT number if you are a freelance worker or provide to your employee. Although, if you move for a job, your employer will usually deal with this process, which can be laborious.
NIE on your own: if you are an EU resident, the NIE is easier to acquire. However, you still have to show proof of income, which has to be sufficient for you and your family, if you move with them; you must also have proof of health insurance, which cannot be travelers insurance; and you will need the “certificado de empadronamiento” listed in item 2) above.
- Documento de Afiliacion and Docuemnto de Accesibilidad al Seguro Social: with the NIE card, plus identification, plus an online application, you will get these certificates which will state that you are working as a freelancer, as well as who the beneficiaries are, and are part of the national social security system.
- Tarjetas Sanitarias: these “health cards” are given to you once you have completed all the steps above and provide you access to the national health system. Additionally, if your children are less than 18 years old, they are automatically covered and will be treated regardless of residency eligibility.
- Libro de Familia: this “family book” is provided to Spanish residents who are married and/or have kids. Though not as important as the previously described documents, it is best to acquire it at your leisure. It is often required for attending public school and as a “simplified” form of your family records. To acquire it, you must go to the office of the “registro civil” and, if you were married outside the country and/or have kids married outside the country, you would take your official marriage/birth certificates, translated into Spanish by an accredited translator, and request the “libro de familia.”
- Driver’s license: if you have a driver’s license from a non-EU country, you will most likely need to start from scratch. In other words, you will need to sign up with a driving school, take classes, then take two exams (written and on the road) before you are issued a local Spanish license. You will, however, have 6 months from the date you move to get a Spanish license.
Naturalization: Though this is a long way ahead for most new arrivals, it is good to plan ahead and see if you will want to become a naturalized Spanish citizen later on. For most foreigners immigrating to Spain, they are required to be a legal resident for 8 years, plus satisfy a list of requirements (too numerous for this article.) However, there is good news if you are Latin American or Filipino or a citizen of a former Spanish colony: in this case, you only need to be a legal resident for 2 years. Therefore, you need to prepare your documentation, plus study for a history and civics exam, soon after you become a resident, should you wish to become a naturalized citizen as soon as practical.
To be very honest, obtaining these documents can be laborious and frustrating. You will often question the logic and importance of the requirements, but just try and be patient and persevere. Any person can apply and obtain these documents, but a lawyer or agency will make it a lot easier for you. That said, there will still be long waiting periods, some appointments may be an hour or more away because the government offices in Barcelona lack enough appointments, etc. Our advice to you, if you plan on tackling this task on your own, in addition to the patience noted above, is to research the requirements, check them with someone you know and trust, list them out and make sure everything is present, then start chipping away at the list of the documents needed and move forward.
And although sometimes the delays will be caused by overworked bureaucrats and backed up schedules, you are still responsible for registering yourself in a timely manner, acquiring permits needed, and reporting quarterly taxes, if you are a freelancer. Therefore, it is best to start researching what you will need specifically for your situation (i.e. non-EU citizen versus EU citizen) before you move; especially since some of the documents you need to present will be ones that are only available in your home country. For example, birth certificates need to be no older than 12 months. Therefore, if it is required for you or your children to present such a certificate, you can request it before you leave your home country and have it ready. In addition, it would also need to be apostileld (specific international notarial service) in your home country, and then officially translated, which you can do in Spain.