Living in Spain

After Arriving section (NIE, Padron, Residency Card,
      Digital Certificate, Bank Account, Social Security Number)
While Living In Spain section (Renew Residency, Long-Term Residency, Citizenship,
      Regreso, Money Transfer)
Learning Spanish section
Miscellaneous section
 

My Driving in Spain page
My Health Insurance and Healthcare in Spain page
My Taxes in Spain page




After Arriving



Don't be surprised if you have a lot of mental stress after moving. A big change in your life is stressful, and more so if you're changing from one culture/country/language to another. If you start feeling a lot of anxiety and remorse, be aware of why you feel that way, and give it some time.



When you arrive at the airport in Spain, make sure Immigration puts an entry stamp in your passport, and make sure it is legible. You will need this later.



Tips for official procedures:



Getting paid help:
Some of these chores can be done for you by an agency (for a fee) before you arrive in Spain:
Spanish Visa (will do NIE, bank account, medical insurance)
Expat Agency Spain

Another agency, for helping once you're in Spain: NIE Barcelona.

If you have NIE and address etc, perhaps you can do some things, such as making residencia appointment online, before you arrive in Spain.

You can go to a gestoria, a private company which assists you with various kinds of official paperwork. You'd still have to go to the government offices in person to accomplish the procedures, I think (maybe not for NIE). What are typical prices ? Huge, I think.
Lanzarote Relocation's "What is the difference between a Gestoria and a Lawyer?"
Metropolitan Barcelona's "Q&A with a gestor"
algrif's "The Gestor / Gestoria"
Inmobiliaria LAS ANCLAS Ibiza's "Gestorias In Ibiza"
Colegio Oficial de Gestores Administrativos de Catalunya (find gestor in Catalunya)
Expat Agency Spain

One translation service in Barcelona:
Interglossa



Official numbers and cards and agencies in Spain:
Numbers: Strong Abogados' "Understanding the terms in Spain"
Spanish-Living's "ID Numbers in Spain: NIE, CIF, VAT"

Cards:
Agencies:
Just Landed's "The legal system"





[Procedures have changed a bit over the years, and will continue to change, so not all sources give exactly the same info. Procedures differ for EU and non-EU people. And procedures may vary from region to region, office to office, or even official to official.]



[Some confusion about the order of these things. Do you have to do padron before residence card ? NIE and padron seem easy; do them before residence card, which is harder ?]

From Barrington Homes' "New Foreign Residents Law, NIE and Padron Lecture Information" (edited a bit):
You may have noticed that to get the Padron you need an NIE or residencia, and to get the residencia you need the Padron, so for those of you applying for the first time the procedure is as follows:
  1. Go to local police station or Foreigner's Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) and obtain provisional NIE number (which will be the same number when you apply for residency).
  2. Take the white provisional NIE document to Town Hall and register on the Padron.
  3. Take the Padron document back to local police station or Foreigner's Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) and apply for residencia.
  4. Take the green residencia certificate to Town Hall and update register on the Padron.
But now if you have a long-stay visa, the NIE is automatically assigned and printed right in the visa, so no need to do that first step.

Finding a national police station (comisaria) or Foreigner's Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) in your area: Policia Nacional's "Oficinas de tramitacion para ciudadanos extranjeros".

Cale Gram's "How the f*ck does the Spanish appointment system work?"



[List omits some things that don't apply to me: housing, utilities, school, car, employment, pet.]

  1. Must have a permanent residence address before you can do just about anything else.

    In some places, your legal address may be different from your mailing address.


  2. Get a phone ?

    May have to have a Spanish bank account to get a phone. Will have to show a passport and/or NIE.

    Ask locals what service is best, especially if you're in a small town or rural area.

    Some people recommend prepaid phone with Lebara.

    Mejor Inglés's "Phone Plans and Using your Smartphone"
    Meggrblog's "The techie expat's guide to smartphones in Spain"
    Rick Steves' "Travel Tips: Phones & Technology"


  3. Get internet access ?

    Free Wi-Fi if you buy a drink or meal in most restaurants and fast-food places, and in malls. Some cities also provide free Wi-Fi near govt buildings and museums and libraries and such. Or rent a mobile/Wi-Fi hotspot (Tep, Xcom Global, Cellular Abroad, etc) ?

    Ask locals what service is best, especially if you're in a small town or rural area.

    Living and Working in Spain's "Internet/Banking/Etc"
    Sergio Uceda's "Broadband in Spain"


  4. Get an NIE (Numero de Identidad de Extranjero - Foreigner's Identification Number).

    When I received my long-stay visa, stamped into my passport, it had an NIE on it, so they did that automatically.

    From /u/AidenTai on reddit:
    The Foreigner Identification Number (NIE in Spanish) is created for foreign nationals who either request it explicitly for some legitimate purpose, or for foreign nationals when some government body processing them requests it due to the necessity of being able to uniquely identify a foreign individual who has links to Spain. Therefore, if you were, for instance, a Polish citizen (EU citizen) who wished to buy property in Spain while not living there, you could request a NIE and the government would provide one to fulfill your need for an identity number while doing business in Spain. If you were a foreign national wishing to reside in Spain, the appropriate government bodies would request one for you in the event your application was approved, as they internally need an identification number for all individuals they process who are Spanish residents. Therefore, if you applied and were granted Spanish residency, a NIE was created for you already in order for the right of residency to be associated with you, and for further paperwork such as the visa, residency card, etc. to be processed internally. Foreign companies and individuals who require a NIE who but who are not residents nor plan on becoming residents are the main persons that request NIEs through the independent NIE request procedure.

    EX-15 form (PDF) or is it supposed to be EX-17 form (PDF) ? Perhaps EX-15 if you don't have NIE, EX-17 if you have NIE but just need residency card ?

    Strong Abogados' "Guide to the NIE number"
    Rechtsanwalt Dominic Porta's "NIE, TIE, residency or nationality"
    SpainAdvisor's "How To Get A NIE in Spain"
    AngloINFO's "Obtaining an NIE Number"
    NIE Barcelona's "Frequently Asked Questions"
    /r/Barcelona's "NIE"
    Expats in Spain's "How to get your N.I E. number in Spain" (PDF)
    BarcelonaYellow's "Barcelona residency papers and NIE number"
    A Texan in Spain's "How to Apply for Your NIE in Jaen (and Get Your TIE)"
    A Texan in Spain's "How to Apply for Your NIE in Santiago de Compostela (and Get Your TIE)"
    Mejor Inglés's "The 7 Documents for your NIE Appointment"
    Cale Gram's "How to Apply for the Spanish NIE/TIE in Barcelona"
    Barcelona Life's "The NIE Nightmare Made Easy"

    From /u/kihaku1974: [in my case] "reason for NIE" will be something like "relationship with citizen".

    From /u/GlobalTumbleweed:
    Your NIE is on par with perhaps your [US] Social Security number in terms of how you should guard it but is used for many day to day activities in the country. It is required for renting an apartment, opening a cellphone or internet account, and opening a bank account. My visa is a bit different than the one you're applying for, but on mine the NIE is printed on my Residence Card. It seems from above that you will not be working so I would think that, like myself, the primary function for your NIE will just be identification.

    From /u/kihaku1974:
    NIE is needed for social healthcare, opening bank accounts, etc. You can get private health care and bank accounts without it, but it's more money and a lot of hassle.

    From Strong Abogados' "Guide to the NIE number":
    When applying, you must bring:
    • The filled-out EX-15 form.
    • A supporting document (such as a notarised letter) showing why you need a NIE.
    • A copy of your passport (all pages).
    • A passport photo.
    • Approximately €12 to pay Tax Form 790.

    That's Spanish passport-sized; size of photograph is 40 mm x 30 mm.


  5. Get a Certificado de Empadronamiento ("Padron Municipal de Habitantes") by registering on the census register (the padron) at your local Town Hall.

    /r/Barcelona's "Residency aka EMPADRONAMENT"
    MumAbroad's "Certificado de Empadronamiento"
    NIE Barcelona's "Empadronamiento"
    David Ruiz's "What is a Padron?"
    SpainExpat forum's "Empadronamiento in Spain: Registering in Your Community"
    Lemon in my Coke's "Get Your Empadronamiento On!" (Barcelona)
    Lemon in my Coke's "Making your Padron Appointment" (Barcelona)
    See section 7 of Mejor Inglés's "The 7 Documents for your NIE Appointment"

    From /u/kihaku1974: if "living with citizen, not renting", "You will need a letter from them stating you are living there, and a copy of their lease/documents". (May also need a copy of their DNI certificate ?)

    From Esencial Blog's "NIE and Residency Card":
    You must submit: your passport, your birth certificate, a photocopy of your birth certificate, two passport photos, and the original and photocopy of the rental agreement of the flat or of a document certifying that you live at that address.
    Other sources don't say birth certificate is required, and I didn't have to show birth certificate.

    My experience, in Nou Barris in Barcelona 10/2015:

    It was very easy to get an appointment for the next day, online.

    I went with my lady, who is the owner of the apartment where I am staying. She speaks Spanish and Catalan, so she handled everything.

    We submitted my passport and copies of the ID page and visa page, and her DNI card and copies of it. My NIE is on my visa, so no card needed for that. Filled out a couple of paper forms. No photos needed, no birth certificate needed. The apartment owner was there in person, so no need to show a lease or other proof of address or a letter.

    No charge. Received a pink paper that shows the padron has been applied for. The padron certificate will come in the mail in 2-3 weeks.

    Padron came in the mail 7-8 days later. It's just 5 pages on government letterhead paper, saying that I'm on the padron and repeating lots of my information and the address and info about the other people registered at the same apartment.

    When I received my residency card later, I went back and had that info added to the padron.

    My experience later, when we moved to Jerez de la Frontera 9/2016:

    No cita possible or needed.

    My lady's name is on the rental contract. We handed in a copy of the rental contract, and copy of front and back of her DNI and my Permiso de Residencia. Showed my passport, but I think the agent didn't even look at it.

    Lots of typing; I guess the info from a computer system in one region (Catalunya) does not carry over to another region (Andalucia).

    An oddity: my NIE is of the form "YnnnnnnnL", but on the printed padron page here it shows up without the "L". The guy said that's no problem, in the computer the "L" is there. Seems weird to me.

    No charge for my padron, since it's the first time I've lived in this region, but about €5 charge for my lady's padron, since she's lived here before.

    We each got one original of our padron; just make photocopies if you need more (such as for National Police). [This is different from Barcelona, where we each got 3 originals, and photocopies are not valid, I think.] Some places here (banks, mainly ?) will demand an original, and each additional original will cost about €5.

    My experience again in Jerez de la Frontera 4/2017:

    I needed to update my padron with new residency card, and get a newly-valid padron so I can go apply for convenio especial healthcare. My lady needed to change her padron from Barcelona to here (again).

    I handed over residency card and passport, my lady handed over her DNI, lots of typing and printing, we signed, forms were stamped. We each got one set of forms with "Efecto para el que se expide" set to "Asistencia Sanitaria", and another with it set to "Informacion padronal".

    This time the forms have my complete NIE, not missing the letter on the end as the previous forms did. I guess they've fixed that problem.

    No charge for anything, which surprised me. I thought there was going to be a charge of about €5 each.

    After you're on the padron, later you might be able to print a copy online, or apply online and pick it up at a government office. But there are different types of padron certificates. And this online facility might not be available in all places.
    Gobierno de España's "Certificado y volante de empadronamiento"
    Same in English: Gobierno de España's "Full certificate of residence and current certificate of residence"

    Types of padron certificate [not sure]:
    • Certificado de empadronamiento (AKA Certificado individual de residencia, AKA padron para residencia): shows you are living at an address in a town on a given date. Usually valid for official operations up to 3 months after issued.
    • Volante de empadronamiento colectivo (AKA Certificado colectivo de convivencia): lists all people living at an address in a town on a given date.
    • Padron historico (AKA Certificado historico de empadronamiento individual): shows you were living at an address in a town during a given range of dates.
    • Certificado historico de empadronamiento colectivo: shows all people living at an address in a town during a given range of dates.



  6. Must apply for a Residency Permit/Card (Tarjeta de Residencia) within 30 days of arriving in the EU on long-stay visa.

    There used to be a "TIE" card instead of or in addition to the Residency card, so you still will see the term "TIE" in various places. But "Tarjeta de Residencia" or "Permiso de Residencia" or Residency card are the right terms now.

    AngloINFO's "Non-EU Citizens Moving to Spain"
    MumAbroad's "NIE Numbers & Residency Certificates"
    Tumbit Spain's "Applying for Residential Status (Residencia) - Non-EU Citizens"
    Just Landed's "Residency and NIE"

    Best to apply immediately upon arrival in Spain; almost certainly you will have to wait for an appointment, might have to get additional documentation. Note I received with my visa says I must apply for residency within my first month in Spain.

    The office may be called "Extranjeria" or "Comisaria de Policia" or "National Police" or "Policia Nacional".

    From Esencial Blog's "NIE and Residency Card":

    Waiting times at the office and waiting times to receive the residency card may vary greatly from one office to another even in the same city. As a result, it is a good idea to ask people who have recently applied for a residency card about their experiences. [In Barcelona, there are different offices for EU applicants and non-EU applicants, and different offices for first-time cards and renewals.]

    Below is a list of some of the documents that must be presented to apply for residency. However, there is no official list with these procedures, so the necessary documents may vary from one location to another. It is best to confirm at your local office which documents are required.

    Documents required for applicants (EU and non-EU nationals):
    • Valid passport: Original and copy.
    • 3 passport size photos with your name clearly written on the back.
    • The census or padron document.
    • The corresponding visa.
    • Properly completed application form: Original and three copies.

    From Mejor Inglés's "The 7 Documents for your NIE Appointment":

    When applying, you must bring:
    • Slip showing your appointment time (Cita Previa).
    • The filled-out EX-15 or EX-17 form.
    • A supporting document (such as a notarised letter) showing why you need a NIE (2 copies).
    • Your passport.
    • A copy of ID, visa and entry stamp pages of your passport.
    • Three passport photos.
    • Paid Tax Form Modelo 790, Codigo 12.
    • Padron certificate.

    You will walk out with "Resguardo de Solicitud de NIE", a slip of paper that says your residency card has been applied for. Don't lose it; you will need it for other processes until you get your card. You also will be given "tasa de pago", showing an amount you have to pay at a bank. Do that right away.

    Some sources say residency card certificate/letter will arrive by mail 2-4 weeks after you apply, others say you may get it immediately, or months later, or have to go pick it up.
    Can check status here ? [May have changed to here]
    Cale Gram's "Where to Pick Up Your Spanish TIE in Barcelona"


    From Wagoners Abroad's "Tips For Getting Settled In Spain":

    Go early! You will be making multiple trips to the Foreigner's Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or police station, so don't wait until they're about to close, as it means you'll have to come back the next business day. Also remember that they will most likely close at 2 PM. So go early! Let me also set the expectation right up front that you are not going to be walking out with your final NIE Resident card today. I'll get to the why in a bit.

    When you originally obtained your Spanish Visa, you should have been provided with a bunch of other papers, to be provided to the local Spanish authorities. Not only will you need that paperwork, you will need:

    • Passport pictures - These are a different size than the passport pictures you get in the U.S., so don't be surprised if they tell you that you don't have the correct type. These are usually very easy to get. A local photo store will be able to take them for you and they often have them near the police station / foreigner's office. Get at least two per adult, and four per child (the school and local library will need them).

    • Depending on the paperwork you provided with your initial visa application, you may need to supply a complete copy of your passport, from the first page to the last for each person.

    • Bring along your rental contract or invitation letter.

    • In addition, you'll need the paper you received from the Town Hall "Padron Municipal de Habitantes".

    Once you've provided them with your paperwork, they will provide you with a piece of paper, and there will be a fee you need to pay to make it official. Unfortunately, you can't pay at the police station. You'll have to go to a nearby bank and pay the fee for each person, not just the primary. If you have a bank branch that's close to the police station, go there. Not all banks will take the payment, but if you bank with them, they most certainly will or you can go to a caja type bank.

    Once you've got the stamped documents which prove you paid the fee, head back to the police station / foreigner's office. They will then take your fingerprints, complete the paperwork and then you'll get your temporary NIE resident card, which is on a small slip of paper. If you're an adult, you'll want to carry this with you at all times. In approximately four weeks, you should receive a letter that your card(s) are ready to pick up. Make sure you bring your passport and temporary NIE.

    That's Spanish passport-sized; size of photograph is 40 mm x 30 mm.

    From CIEE's "Living in Spain 101: Applying for a Foreign Residency Card (TIE)":
    • 2 copies of the first page of your passport.
    • 2 black and white copies of your visa.
    • 2 black and white copies of the page where Spanish customs stamped your passport.

    From /u/AidenTai on reddit:

    [When the visa is granted, you have been approved for residency.] All individuals, whether visitors or residents, have a duty to be documented at all times whilst in Spain. The Ministry of the Interior, through its National Police force, is tasked with creating ID cards for all foreign nationals residing in Spain. It is your obligation to apply for one of these physical ID cards from the national police upon arriving in Spain. They can deny you a card for reasons such: lack of the right forms, improper photographs, lack of some underlying permission to be in the country long-term, or due to inadmissability of some of the submitted paperwork. But they cannot deny a valid request for an ID card from someone who legitimately needs an ID card to identify himself as a legal resident, nor deny Spanish nationals requesting their own separate ID cards. If at any point you lose the ID card they provided you, you can request another. The important thing here is that your underlying permission to be in the country as a resident is still valid and that permission was issued before any "paper documentation" was issued to you including visas, ID cards, etc. The Secretary General of Immigration and Emigration will be in charge of renewing your right to residency should you choose to apply for renewal once already in the country as a legal resident. Other government bodies such as the Ministry of the Interior, National Police, Ministry of Hacienda/Revenue, etc. play no part in making a decision as to whether or not you can stay. They are simply involved in a secondary way (providing paperwork, identification documents, etc.)

    Spanish banks charge higher fees to non-residents than to residents. So after you change status, go to your bank and get the status noted and the fees changed.

    What is application form ? EX-17 (PDF), if you have NIE already ?

    Although everyone says you need to be on the padron first, and take a copy of padron to the appointment, padron is NOT required to apply for residency according to Gobierno de España's "Autorizacion inicial de residencia temporal no lucrativa".

    Applying online for a "cita" (appointment):

    Apply at SEDE's "Internet Cita Previa".

    You want "Expedición de Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero" and then "Toma De Huellas (Expedición de Tarjeta)". Abbreviation for USA on the web form is "EEUU".

    There is a mobile application as an alternative to the web page. The mobile application is the same as the web page but without the ability to remember form field values or cut and paste, so the web page is better.

    For Barcelona 10/2015, it took me a hundred attempts, over the course of a week, to finally get an appointment. Best to try in mornings, 7 AM to 9 AM. But a few citas do become available at other times, occasionally. Monday morning the system seemed choked or crashed, probably from many people trying at the same time. Often an attempt failed at the last web page; until you have a "Número de justificante de cita", you don't have a cita.

    The appointment I got is scheduled for 2 weeks later. So start trying to get an appointment as SOON as you arrive in Spain, or even before arriving.

    If you try and try and just can not get an appointment, and the deadline is fast approaching, it might help to take screen-shots of the "no appointments available" web pages. Then when you blow the deadline and finally get an appointment, you can show the screen-shots as evidence that you tried to get an appointment before the deadline.

    I've also heard that you could try just walking into the office to ask for a cita. This may be possible only in smaller offices. The building in Barcelona had security checking your cita paperwork before you could even go in to get to the desk.

    The residencia appointment:

    [My visa is for non-lucrative, and already contains an NIE, which may affect what happened.]

    My appointment was for 12:57 at National Police station in Barcelona (Rambla Guipuzcoa 74). Allow extra time because it's a big building with multiple entrances and very little signage, so it takes a while to find the right waiting room.

    I think mine was one of the last appointments of the day, and I had to wait until 2:30 to be seen.

    I handed over the printed justificante page showing the appointment. She checked the ID page, visa page, and most recent entry stamp in my passport. I handed over the EX-17 application form, a middle page of my padron, and one Spanish-passport-sized photograph. Fingerprints of my index fingers were taken a couple of times, electronically. The clerk didn't care about any of my photocopies of passport pages.

    She did various examining and typing, then handed back everything I had given her, even the application form, keeping only the photograph.

    She gave me a stamped one-page "Resguardo de Solicitud o Renovacion de Tarjeta de Extranjero", which says I've applied for residency. It says it expires in forty-five days.

    And she gave me a tasa form (Modelo 790 Codigo 012 for €15.45) that I can go pay at a bank. Told me to take the paid tasa and my passport to a different office (Carrer de Mallorca 213) in about a month to pick up my residency card, and that was it !

    Later that day, tried checking status on SEDE page, not found. Same ever after. Never did show up.
    [Later figured out I've been using that page wrong all along: the "Cl@ve" icon is hiding ALL digital ID methods, not just Cl@ve (which I don't have). If you have a digital certificate, click on "Cl@ve", click "eidentifier", use digital certificate, and maybe get good results.] [May have changed to here]

    Apparently there will be no notification when the card is ready ? Just go about a month later to pick it up. No appointment needed.

    I went to pick it up exactly 3 weeks later, and the card was there ! Minimal wait, had to show passport, hand over tasa, do fingerprints to match them.

    Card is valid for 1 year from the date you entered Spain, not from the date you applied for the residency card or the date you got the card.

    I took the card to the local govt office the next day, and had my padron updated.

    6/2016: I'm told the procedure is changing: now you're supposed to print the 3 pages of the tasa form (Modelo 790 Codigo 012) from the internet ahead of time, and they no longer give a carbon-copy form at the office. Check to see if your local office uses old or new procedure.

    From someone on "American Expats in Spain" Facebook group:
    [If your residency card is stolen:]
    Go to the police station and report it stolen. They give you a denuncia which you then take to [foreigner's office] with the necessary paperwork to apply for a replacement. The wait time for a new card is no more than a month. Meanwhile, carry the denuncia on you and an alternative form of ID in case anyone asks for it.

    You have to inform Extranjeria if your address changes. I don't know if they give you a new card when that happens.

    Your residency card may give you discounted admission at some museums and other places.


  7. Get a Digital Certificate on your computer.

    This is used as your ID on various official web sites; you can use it to make appointments online, view your info, file tax return online, etc. Must have residence card first.

    From Richelle de Wit on "Citizens Advice Bureau Spain" Facebook group 3/2015:
    Incredibly useful, as practically all government agencies have virtual offices nowadays and there are a lot of things you do not need to leave your home for, if you have the certificate installed on your computer. And you can subscribe to automatically receive notifications, e.g. from the Tax Office, so you'll never be caught out by non-receipt of request for additional paperwork re your tax return, a fine, or worse, an embargo ...

    Peter Sauer's "Certificado Digital"
    Peter Moore and Peter Sauer's "How to Obtain a Digital Certificate For Your Computer"

    Apply for it at Sede's "Certificates" or through CERT, then you'll have to go to an office (found through Sede - Agencia Tributaria - Delegaciones y Administraciones) to show residence card, then back to your computer to download the certificate (from Sede's "Descargar Certificado").
    I applied for an FNMT certificate online, went to a TGSS office to confirm identity (only residency card needed), email to download the certificate was waiting when I got home.

    Despite some language on the application that they might revoke other similar certificates, my idCAT certificate still is valid.

    Some regions have their own equivalent of this certificate. Not sure if you should get the national certificate, too. In Barcelona, there is idCAT from CATCert; you can get it at the district govt office, with only a passport. And it seems to be recognized for operations all over the country, and to the central government. If later you want to change the email address in it, you'll have to revoke the certificate and get a new one. You can change your address and phone number in their database online.
    Lost in Sant Cugat's "IdCAT: an insecure digital certificate for foreigner living in Catalunya"

    As far as I can tell, usually the certificate itself contains only your name and ID number (NIE); Catalunya certificate also contains your email address. So if you change mailing address or phone, no need to change the certificates. But you should notify the certificate authority that your mailing address or phone has changed: update their database.

    After you install a certficate on one computer, you can save a backup copy of it and use that to install the same certificate on other computers.

    Hacienda also has a "Cl@ve PIN" online ID system (formerly PIN24H) as an alternative to digital certificate. You register, and then each time you want access, you ask for a new PIN, which has to be used within 10 minutes. Some procedures will require SMS text to your mobile phone. It seems you have to have a European (IBAN) bank account to do this ?
    Bienvenido a Cl@ve PIN
    Philip Carroll's "Applying for a CL@ve Pin. Electronic Identication PIN for the Tax Office"

    There also is some way to use a card-reader ("lector de tarjetas") attached to your computer. But I think a reader uses only the chip in a card, not the magnetic stripe. And only the health system card and citizen's DNI card contain chips; the residency card (TIE) does not. And not all government web sites support identification via card; I think for example the Andalucia Salud site does not.
    FNMT's "Lectores de Tarjetas"


  8. Get a Spanish bank account.

    MumAbroad's "Opening a bank account"
    La Vida Alcalaina's "Thinking of retiring to Spain?"
    movingtobarcelona.com's "Money & Banking in Spain"
    NIE Barcelona's "Bank Account"
    Spotahome's "Great online bank account options for expats in Spain"
    Martina Vitali's "Current accounts in Barcelona: Which bank to choose?"
    I'm Moving To Barcelona's "Banks In Spain"
    Expat Agency Spain's "Top 5 Banks in Spain Tips for Expatriates"

    Do you really need a Spanish bank account, if you're not working in Spain, not owning or renting property, etc ? Why not just use a USA bank account, and get cash out of Spanish ATMs ? I suppose a Spanish bank account would let you avoid ATM fees and foreign transaction fees, and help you get a Spanish credit card. A Spanish bank account is one option used to pay your Spanish income tax online, but you also can pay in person at any bank with your tax return (fees ?), or pay by credit or debit card. [But: I found that to file wealth tax form (714) you absolutely MUST put an IBAN on the form, even if you pay another way. This forced me to get a Spanish bank account.]

    It seems that the Spanish tax forms, if you want to pay via direct-debit out of a bank account ("domiciliario"), force the first two characters of the IBAN to be "ES". So you have to use a Spanish bank account, not one from any other European country, if you want to pay this way.

    Perhaps it is a bad idea to keep much money in a Spanish bank account. The banks seem to feel free to take out new fees, apply new charges from vendors you contract with, or freeze your account if some piece of paper is missing, and you have little recourse. Sometimes when you open an account, a bank may insist that you also buy life insurance with them; refuse and go to a different bank or a different branch.

    From Practical Spain's "NIE / NIF Registration and Residencia Application":
    You cannot enter into a contract for the supply of electricity, water or a telephone line etc without giving your NIE/NIF number together with your bank details because these services will only accept clients whose bills are paid automatically from a bank.

    From Wagoners Abroad's "Tips For Getting Settled In Spain":
    If you are moving to Spain from a non-EU country, you'll want to get a local bank account, as most recurring payments are set up as direct debits to your bank account. If you're coming from the U.S. or Canada, you will most likely not find your bank in Spain. From what we've gathered, Spanish banking is a bit non-standard. We banked with Bank of America in the U.S., but they have no presence in Spain, so you'll probably need to start from scratch.

    When setting up a bank account, you'll need to provide your address, your NIE/Passport number, as well as a some nominal amount of Euro-denominated currency. ... Our understanding is that there is no free checking account, unless you're automatically depositing a certain amount of money each month (like what a retiree would do). This amount varies per bank, and by what type of account you set up, but our monthly minimum was €700. If you do not set up an "auto" account, make sure you're comfortable with the monthly fees.

    The other thing to think about, there are different ATM networks in Spain. If you draw money from an ATM network that you do not belong to, you'll be charged a fee. Do some checking around, and ascertain that your bank has plenty of ATM presence. Our bank Sabadell belongs to the ServiRed network which is popular throughout Spain.

    I would recommend against opening a bank account at a local Caja type of bank. These are typically very local, and don't necessarily have a broad presence throughout Spain or Europe.

    From someone on "Expats in Barcelona" Facebook group:
    Two people in the same bank will tell you two different things. It seems that if the Spanish Admin people think your application is going to be even a tiny bit more paperwork for them - they will just send you away. Paperwork is key here. The bank must have printed out at least 100 sheets of paper for my bank account and I must have signed my signature at least 20 times. Preparation is the key! Make sure you have proof of address and your registration from the local police and your passport. You can open the account with as little as 10 or 20 Euros - but be prepared to go to same bank 2 or 3 times until you find someone who will actually help.

    From comments on Young Adventuress' "10 Mistakes Auxiliares in Spain Make Again and Again":
    All the banks in Spain will try to screw you over ... And it seems to vary more from branch to branch than bank to bank, so it's a matter of luck. ... I suggest just being super cautious, asking tons of questions, and sticking to your guns no matter where you open your Spanish bank account.

    Surviving for two years with a Spanish bank account may be the biggest accomplishment of my life. Sigh.

    ...

    Before opening an account you should visit different banks, or even better savings banks to find the best one. You've got to carefully read the contract before signing just to see if there's a fee when closing the account, or to see if there's a monthly or yearly fee on the credit card, or the famous 'maintenance fee'.

    Anyway, the best to do is to withdraw 99% of the money before closing the account, so if there's a fee of the remaining money you'll pay a tiny amount. ...

    An example of what a Spanish bank might require you to fill out for FATCA compliance (bank has to report your info to USA): HSBC's "FATCA overview".

    From someone on "American Expats in Spain" Facebook group:
    "Banks don't give out credit in Spain like they do in the States! You need stable income to qualify for a card, and even then the credit limits are extremely low."

    From someone else on "American Expats in Spain" Facebook group:
    "I was not given a credit card in Spain until I had been with ING for three years. Tried at Cajasol, La Caixa and Citibank. Good luck!"

    If possible, don't close your US bank account, and don't tell your US bank that you're living abroad (they might close your account). This would require that you still have a USA mailing address, and may have tax implications.

    From discussion on /r/Barcelona:
    > I want a Spanish bank account which I
    > can use via internet/phone app.

    ING Direct. €0 bank fees with your salary, VISA Gold and debit VISA free, possibility to get your monthly salary in advance in the middle of the month for €8 (regardless of your salary quantity) with no limitation and everything is controllable via web/Android/Windows Phone/iOS app or mobile web. [But the web site has no English.]

    Triodos: an ethical and sustainable bank. [But the web site is not good, and no mobile app.] Also: 5 free SEPA transfers/month, low fees, and good karma.

    Evobanco: the cool thing is that you can use any cash machine in the world without paying commissions. Also the use of credit card is for free. I had trouble with La Caixa and was treated like an idiot, when I went to Evo they were very nice and treated me like a normal person. Their website is also quite clear.

    Paraphrased from movingtobarcelona.com's "Money & Banking in Spain":
    ING Direct:
    • There is no English language version of their Spanish banking website.
    • They currently have three branches in Barcelona which are open all day including Saturday. Most of the traditional Spanish banks only open their branches in the mornings.
    • Account types: cuenta naranja (a current account but needs to be connected to an existing account at another bank in Spain), cuenta nomina (an independent current account, however this can only be set up if you pay your salary into the account), cuenta sin nomina (aimed at self-employed people).
    From someone on "American Expats in Spain" Facebook group 9/2014:
    Cuenta Naranja is a savings account, that's why it needs to be linked to a current account.

    ...

    "Nomina" means direct deposit from your employer. "Sin Nomina" means without direct deposit. So, there are two different types of checking accounts, one that requires direct deposit, and one that doesn't. It appears the "sin nomina" requires you to have a balance of at least 3000 euros, while the other one doesn't have that requirement as long as you have direct deposit. It's pretty much the same kind of deal as most banks.

    From Mejor Inglés's "Getting a Bank Account":
    "ING Direct - a great choice, but you will need the physical NIE card. Look into it after you get your card if you want a change. They have credit and debit cards that are completely free, even for those who aren't under 26."

    From someone on "Expats in Spain" Facebook group 4/2016:
    I use ING Direct. Steer clear. I will dump them when I have a chance even if it costs me more. While online is appealing, the Spanish way of doing business is still culturally face to face. The "Direct" services haven't yet matured.

    It's my impression that Spanish banks charge low or no fees if you're depositing a salary or pension into the account automatically every month. But I'm a retiree living off savings, not pension, so I don't have this situation.

    Bankia has a "SIN Comisiones" (no commissions) program that charges no fees if your salary/pension is deposited every month. For retirees with savings but no pension, to get the same program, you must maintain a balance of €75,000 !

    Stopped in a Caixa Blue in Barcelona 11/2014, and the story was: maintenance fee of €12 every 3 months, and the only way to make the fee go away is to have direct deposit of paycheck or pension.

    Apparently Correos offers a checking account; €20/quarter fee unless you deposit paycheck and pay utilities out of the account.
    Cuenta Nomina BanCorreos (see footnotes at bottom)

    I asked about Triodos on /r/spain 6/2016 and got:
    Yeah, I have an account with them.
    - So far no problems, they never tried to contact me to sell me unwanted stuff, and I can do all my stuff online.
    - The account itself doesn't require any maintenance fees, although, if you want a debit/credit card you'll need to pay a yearly fee (I think it's €18). Also, they will take a fee for every bank transfer you do after the 5th.
    - No English after logging in.

    ...

    Facebook page "Triodos Bank España"

    No-fee bank accounts ?
    [Note: no English on ANY of their web sites.]
    Banco Mediolanum
    bancopopular-e (backed by Banco Popular; use Banco Popular, Banco Pastor and Targobank ATMs for free)
    Bankia's "Cuenta_ON" (has English)
    EVO Banco (site has English once logged in as client ?)
    ING Direct (no fees if keep €2000 in account ?)
    i-santander (backed by Santander; use Santander ATMs for free)
    openbank (backed by Santander; use Santander and Banesto ATMs for free)
    Self Bank (backed by La Caixa; use La Caixa ATMs for free)
    Triodos (charges fee for ATM use ? now has a small quarterly account maintenance fee)
    uno-e (backed by BBVA; use BBVA ATMs for free)

    New, and has English: N26

    Traditional banks:
    BBVA
    CaixaBank (red signs; being acquired by BBVA ?)
    La Caixa (blue signs; being acquired by BBVA ?)
    Sabadell
    Santander (no English on web site)

    These days, there is a Facebook Group about just about every big bank, so you could go on there and see what customers are saying, and ask questions.

    Spanish banks charge higher fees to non-residents than to residents. So when you get your residencia, go to your bank and get the status noted and the fees changed. And there may be an extra "non-resident certificate" fee if you open an account before having an NIE.

    If US citizen has $10K or more in a non-US bank account at any time during the year, must file FBAR form, FinCEN Report 114 (by April 15 each year). See my Taxes in Spain page.

    Some people complain of accounts (especially with ING Direct) suddenly and in explicably being frozen. This seems to have to do with IRS form W-9. Perhaps you should ask your bank for this form as soon as you open the account.

    I opened an account at Triodos 6/2016:

    Office in Barcelona is near Verdaguer Metro. Office is open limited hours, so lots of people waiting. Find the roving receptionist-guy and put your name on the list.

    Opening a "current" (as opposed to "savings") account without ATM card or credit card was quick and easy. The lady's English wasn't great, and my Spanish is bad, but we got it done. Showed my passport and residence card, also gave my Spanish mailing address and email address and mobile number and US Social Security number and US mailing address. Indicated on a form that I was paying taxes in both USA and Spain. They don't take cash; you have to do a bank-transfer to put money in, or just open the account with no money in it. If you're intending to pay bills (such as tax bill), as I am, you have to have a current account, not a savings account. I left with a copy of the contract, and information for logging in online (6-numeric-digit password, and 8-character authentication string).

    About 2 hours later, at home, I tried to log in online, and had problems. In Firefox, was able to generate a new password, which was sent to me via SMS, but never could get a login page. Switched to Internet Explorer, got the login page okay (works on Chrome, too), but no combination of information (NIE or passport number, and old password or new) was accepted. I sent a message about it to Facebook page "Triodos Bank España" and got a response, but then they were gone for the weekend.

    But then 2.5 days after opening the account, logging in worked. No choice of languages; Spanish only. Can't get the "we use cookies" banner to go away, on any browser. Firefox still can't get login page; maybe one of my add-ons is preventing that ?

    Transferred some money into the account from USA using Transferwise; no problem.

    Triodos's web site has pages for paying various government taxes, IVA, Social Security, etc. I paid my Spanish wealth tax (714) through this.

    An annual (I guess) maintenance fee of €0.67 appeared on my account 31 Dec 2016.

    But then I realized: as of 12/2016, Triodos instituted a €1/month maintenance fee for "current" accounts ! Also instituted various fees on transfers, none of which should affect me (I do only internet transfers on a "current" account).

    6/2017 I heard that Bankia now has a no-fee online-plus-ATM-card account:

    Bankia's "Cuenta_ON"

    HelpMyCash's "Cuenta_ON de Bankia"
    AlertaBancos' "Cuenta On Bankia"

    The account gives a debit card for free. No fees for maintenance or administration, or on transfers within Europe (SEPA). International transfer fee 0.75% or 1.5%. It's a "current" account, not "savings". You must do everything online; you're not allowed to go into a Bankia branch to do things. They WILL email advertisements to you and share your data with their partners. You have to give mobile number and email address.

    They have English on their web site. Use Servired ATMs.

    I tried to create an account, and it failed for some reason, on the first page after putting in my ID info. I think because I had NoScript running, in Firefox. Changed to Chrome without NoScript, it worked. Verified my identity using another bank account, several SMS messages sent to my mobile, sent photo of my residency card to them, signed contracts online. Got everything done except setting PIN on my ATM card; got an error that seems to mean their system is down for a while, try again later.

    The next day, someone from the bank called me, but he spoke no English and my Spanish is terrible. I think he was asking me questions (which I've already answered on the web site) about my occupation, but when he tried to transfer me to someone else, he dropped me, and he didn't call back.

    Bank account still is stuck in "some error before setting ATM PIN". Tried phone calls to Support, can't get through.
    A few days later, went to local branch. The lady typed for a while, I signed several times, got a paper copy of contract, ATM card will come in mail, deposited €100. Left thinking everything was good, but at home I realized the account number has changed, she must have opened a second account. Login on the web site works, error is gone, but I'm still halfway through "sign the contracts" on the original account. Completed that, logged in again, all I get is a "wait while we verify your identity" web page.

    So far, they have not asked for my US address or Social Security number, and I have not filled out a tax form.

    A couple of days later, account(s) still not working, went back to branch again. Signed more agreements, and filled out a US W-9 form. Even after that, guy said "give me a couple more days to get this working".

    Several days later, account still not working, back to the bank. Took 45 minutes, the guy wiped out my first two accounts and created a third, and this time it worked. I can log in online, the money is there. I'll probably get three ATM cards in the mail; I'll give the first two back to the guy, and keep the third.

    A week later, I've received 3 ATM cards in the mail, and the 3rd one is the right one and it works. Tranferwise transfer into account has worked, too. All looks good.

    Their web site is very slow in some cases. And makes some mistakes using dates for programmed periodic transfers, in English OR in Spanish. Doesn't work with NoScript in Firefox; I have to use Chrome without NoScript. Sent a message to Support about date bugs in transfers, got no response.

    Took me a while to figure out: you contact their Support through the "Help" menu, not the "Mailbox" menu.

    At end of first month, they charged a €20 maintenance fee to my account ! Not supposed to happen. Got it removed.

    Can't get monthly transfers to work; bug in their web site. Had to go to the branch to get them to bypass it. Went again and had them try the web page, and it worked fine for them. So maybe I'm using a different browser or something ?

    Another €2.84 maintenance fee appeared on the account. Went to branch and had them remove it.

    I'm told it's a bit hard to get a Spanish credit card, and not many Spaniards use them ?

    TPG's "Avoiding ATM Withdrawal Fees When Traveling Abroad"

    Stores don't do cash-back when you pay with a debit card.


  9. Get a Spanish Social Security number and card (cartilla de la seguridad social).

    For workers; US citizens must present a work permit to get a SS number. Many sources say a student can get a SS number; others say no.

    Application form: TA.1, "Solicitud de: Afiliacion a la Seguridad Social, Asignacion de Numero de Seguridad Social y Variacion de Datos" (PDF)

    Could a US citizen non-worker (retiree) choose to pay into social security (€250/month ?) so that they get NHS health coverage and care ? What is the amount ?

    There is a "Social Security Totalization Agreement" between USA and Spain; this covers how a worker pays into one or the other SS system, and avoids double taxation and double coverage.
    Taxes For Expats's "U.S. International Social Security Agreements"
    Social Security's "U.S. International Social Security Agreements"

    Advoco's "Should you sign up for Spanish social security?"
    MumAbroad's "Healthcare and Social Security"
    AngloINFO's "Health Insurance and Social Security"
    justlanded!BCN's "Spanish Social Security Number"
    NIE Barcelona's "Social Security Number"
    Expats in Spain's "Autonomo Social Security" (PDF)
    COMO's "Getting a Social Security Number in Spain"
    Spotahome's "How to Get Your Spanish Social Security Number in Madrid"
    Love From Andalucia's "Social Security Number"
    Wikiprocedure's "Spain - Obtain a Social Security Number"
    Seguridad Social's office locator
    Seguridad Social get a Cita Previa

    Some of the articles above say a student can get a SS number. But:
    From someone on "American Expats in Spain" Facebook group:
    "American here, I can personally say I was not allowed into SS until I started working. As a student I wasn't eligible."

    I got an SS number, even though I'm not a worker, because I want to apply for Convenio Especial:

    Went to Seguridad Social SedeElectronica, changed language to English.

    Clicked "Citizens", then "Affiliation and Registration", then "Assignment of Social Security number".

    Chose my digital certificate, and got an "okay to check your ID ?" message. Clicked "Aceptar" at bottom of page.

    Got a form with some of my data filled in; filled in the empty fields. Clicked "Confirmar".

    And got a page saying "Your SS number has been assigned, here it is" !

    Copied the number, clicked icon to view a PDF, saved that to disk, done !

    [Went to local Centro Salud to apply for Convenio Especial, they said a bunch of things I think are wrong, and said I have to go to INSS and become "alta". So I'll try that online:]

    Went to Seguridad Social SedeElectronica, changed language to English.

    Clicked "Citizens", then "Affiliation and Registration", then "Registration in a special agreement". Went to "More information", then "Attached documentation", then document "Application for Registration, Deregistration and Change of details ...". Downloaded TGSS TA_0040 PDF file to disk.

    Filled in PDF form. But can't figure out what to put in section 3; none of the choices seem to apply to me (not a worker, not on pension, not EU citizen, not Swiss, etc).

    So got a cita:
    Went to Seguridad Social SedeElectronica, changed language to English. Clicked "Citizens", then "Appointment for pensions and other benefits". For type of cita, I selected "Servicios de Prestaciones:Informacion" and "Prestaciones Internac. (Reglamentos y Convenios), Informacion Prestaciones Internacionales (Reglamentos CE y Convenios Bilaterales).". First cita available is 8 days from now. Selected it, appears in the list, received email confirming it.



  10. Health insurance and health care

    See my Health Insurance and Healthcare in Spain page.


  11. Maybe get a Spanish driving license (not easy or cheap for non-EU person).

    See my Driving in Spain page.


  12. If you're going to own property in Spain, you should have a Spanish will (testamento) to control disposition of the Spanish property, as well as your home-country will. Have the two wills reference each other. Also, investigate the inheritance tax situation.

    For simple situations, you can have a handwritten, unwitnessed, unnotarized will (testamento olografo). Can be registered with the registry of wills (Registro Central de Ultima Voluntad) if you wish. But after death, relatives must appear before judge to authenticate the handwriting ?

    From Myra on CAB FB group 10/2014:
    "Visit a good notary and you should only pay around 60/80 for a two-column two-language will."

    Someone said the notary will read the will to you in Spanish, so you must understand Spanish or have a friend with you to translate.

    From Legal 4 Spain's "Will FAQs":
    One of the major reasons for delays in Spanish probate is beneficiaries being without an N.I.E. number. It is essential for every beneficiary to have an N.I.E. before they can inherit. ...
    From Myra on CAB FB group 10/2014:
    Firstly, wills made in Spain for Spanish properties and assets only, there is no need for the will to go to probate so no delays. All transactions in Spain which include taxes entails the need of a NIE. NIE's can be obtained in a few days so no delay. ... No you cannot just ask for monies to be sent to other countries as you must go through the inheritance process here.

    From Hola España Magazine - An Expat's Guide to Everything - 1st Edition:
    A new EU regulation from 17th August 2015, also allows an individual to elect, via his Will, for the succession law of his country of nationality to apply to his death.

    ...

    It is the person who receives the assets, whether by way of a lifetime gift or as a bequest, who is liable to pay the tax ..., and the rates of tax applied depends on:
    • The relationship between the donor and the donee.
    • How much is being inherited.
    • The value of assets that the donee already has in Spain.
    • Where the deceasedVdonor and the beneficiaries are resident.

    However, ... the ownership of an asset cannot be transferred until the tax is paid. As you cannot sell the asset to pay the tax, problems can arise for the beneficiaries in Spain, where tax usually has to be paid within six months of the death.

    To further complicate matters, each autonomous region of Spain may set its own exemptions and rates of tax. This can make the rates and allowances more or less beneficial, depending on the region.

    AngloINFO's "Making a Spanish Will"
    Raymundo Larrain Nesbitt's "Spanish Inheritance Tax: Advantages of Making a Will in Spain"
    Expats in Spain's "Making a Spanish Will" (PDF)
    iAbogado's "El testamento y sus tipos"
    Legal 4 Spain's "Will FAQs"
    Aherencias's "Testamento"
    Gobierno Provincial Alicante's "Testamento"
    Bujarrabal's "Como hacer testamento"

    Examples:
    Heredium Abogados's "Modelos de Testamento"
    MyPatrimony's "Ejemplo de Testamento Notarial Dinamico"
    Abogae's "Testamento Abierto" (Spanish only)

    What happens when the person dies and the will is probated:
    myAdvocate Spain's "Inheritance With a Spanish Will"

    See "Inheritance and gift taxes" section of my Taxes in Spain page.


  13. How to do a Spanish health-care directive or "living will" ?

    Called Documento de Voluntades Anticipadas (DVA), or (maybe in Andalucia only) La Declaracion de Voluntad Vital Anticipada.

    Local health center in Andalucia doesn't have any info or forms about this. Have to go to central administration ?

    Your document might have to be notarized, and registered with the govt ? Not sure if this is done on a provincial, regional or national basis.

    Notaria F. Javier Ramos's "Guia Practica Documento de Voluntades Anticipadas" (PDF)
    Alzheimer Europe's "Advance directives" (PDF) 5/2005
    AECC's "Voluntades Anticipadas"
    Andalucia's "A Guide to Making an Advance Health Care Directive" (PDF) 2013
    Andalucia's "Registro de Voluntades Vitales Anticipadas"
    Vall d'Hebron Hospital's "Patient's Anticipated Will"


  14. Spanish funeral arrangements.

    Spanish News Today's "Understanding The Funeral Process In Spain"

    Golden Leaves' "Funeral Plans in Spain"
    Iberian
    Santalucia
    Avalon's "European Plans - FAQs"
    Adeslas

    What happens if you die with no plan, no assets, no one claims the body/ashes ? I don't want any funeral etc. But my heirs back in USA would need to get a death certificate.

    Apparently cheap cardboard or wicker coffin for cremation is illegal in Spain; any coffin must be hermetically sealed.


  15. Get a library card (carnet, or tarjeta de biblioteca).

    Free, just show any form of ID (passport, residency card, etc) and give your address. Might need to show your padron ? [In Nou Barris in Barcelona, can show passport and padron application and NIE; don't have to have padron or residency card.] You might be able to apply online and then pick up the card at the library.

    As far as I can tell, about the only English-language thing in the libraries is Time magazine. But: the library is a nice place to rest, they have restrooms, you can borrow CD's and DVD's, you can use internet computer, use Wi-Fi, they may have printer and scanner, bulletin board and maybe email list to find out about neighborhood events, etc.

    Your library card may give you discounted admission at some museums and other places.

    "Para devolver" to return items, and "para llevar" to check out items.


  16. If over 60 years old, there are some discounts available.

    Renfe's "Tarjeta Dorada Card" (costs €6 per year)
    ALSA's "For people over 60"


  17. If over 65 years old, get a government pensioner's card ("Tarjeta 65", "Tarjeta Mayores", "gold card", "Tarjeta Del Jubilado", "Tarjeta Sesentaycinco", or various other names).

    These vary by province. There are two kinds: "normal" card, and "gold" card (which is for low-income people). Must be a resident, on the padron, and over 65 years old. Benefits: discounts on bus travel, eyeglasses, hearing aids, legal advice, meal service, more.

    Richelle de Wit's "How Do I Apply For Tarjeta 65 In Andalucia or Valencia?"

    Various museums and services may say "discount for pensioners", but that really means discount for 65 or older, you don't have to be literally collecting a pension payment every month to qualify.


  18. Various local services.

    I'm Moving To Barcelona's "Barcelona City Bike - Bicing"




The Local's "Moving to Spain: a guide for beginners"
ExpatForum's "FAQs & lots of useful info" (links to lots of forms etc)
/r/Barcelona's "movingchecklist"
justlanded!BCN
Service of attention to immigrants, foreigners and refugees (SAIER) (in Barcelona)





Timing of the process for me, in Barcelona:




Bureaucracy humor: 036 (video)









While Living In Spain



"Expats in Spain" Facebook group
"American Expats in Spain" Facebook group
"Citizens Advice Bureau Spain" Facebook group
Expats in Spain's "Information Files"
Tumbit Spain's "Legal Formalities How to Guides & Articles"
Citizens Advice Bureau Spain (requires free registration to see documents)
SpainGuru's "Spanish Extranjeria General Info"
Wikiprocedure's "Procedures for Spain"

Melissa Parks' "10 Tips for Staying Sane Overseas"
Tom Burgess's "Why don't we have any Spanish friends?"



Connect online to US notary:
Notarize ($25; must have USA mailing address)
USA Notary ($25)

Android app to watch US TV on your phone: Mobdro. Install not through Play Store, but by opening a browser and going to "mobdro.sc". If you connect your TV to Wi-Fi and turn on "screen sharing" or "mirroring" or something, you could watch on your TV.

Android apps for Spain:
"Google Maps" offline option doesn't work in Spain; instead use "Here Maps" app (remember to download the maps for your region).
"Google Translate"; works offline; download language packs, including English.





Learning Spanish



I want to attain "conversational fluency": enough vocabulary and spelling and pronunciation so that I can understand everyday Spanish and read it and speak it. As a complete beginner, I'm not very interested in the details of grammar and tenses and such. [Now, as an advanced-beginner, I'm starting to focus more on the details.]



Tools:

Google Translate (and click on speaker button to hear pronunication)
Bing Translator

Browser add-on for translating web pages:
Google translate for https/http (but saving the translated page to disk doesn't work properly ? And recently it seems to have stopped working on Firefox)
TranslateThis (Firefox only; uses Google Translate)

Translate PDF file from Spanish to English (may not work for some PDF files):
SDL Free Translation (gives TXT file)
I think Google Translate can do this, too.

If you have a smartphone, there are apps that let you hold the camera up to some text or a sign, and will translate it for you.
Jacob Brogan's "Google's Translate App Is Now Indispensable for International Travelers"

Melanie Pinola's "Top 10 Tips and Tools for Learning a New Language"



Before taking classes or listening to learn-Spanish podcasts, review basic terms of grammar:
Simple English Wikipedia's "English grammar"
Wikipedia's "English grammar"
Humor

Duolingo (at first, too picky for my taste).

Free learn-Spanish audio podcasts:
Coffee-Break Spanish
Notes in Spanish
Spanish Pod 101
Spanish Obsessed
LanguageTreks "Discover Spanish"
FSI's "Spanish Basic Course"
News in Slow Spanish

Notes from Spain's "General Spanish learning tips" (no longer being updated)
Languages4Life's "Vocabulary for successful phone conversations in Spanish"
Emma Cary's "7 Simple Tricks To Learn Some Spanish"

SpanishDict's "Spanish Verb Conjugation"
jasarris's "Spanish Verb Conjugations"
Lingolex's "Spanish Verb forms Reference Chart"
Wikipedia's "Spanish pronouns"



Take classes in Spain:

International House
International House in Barcelona's "Almost free Spanish lessons for adults" (great deal, but if not enough students sign up, classes are not given)
Transitions Abroad's "Spanish Language Schools in Spain"
Oxford House (Barcelona)
movingtobarcelona.com's "Learn Spanish in Barcelona"
Barcelona Life's "Learn Spanish in Barcelona"
BCN Languages, in Gracia
ELE USAL
Dinamo
Useful Languages
Dime Barcelona
ILAB Academy

Typical rate for group lessons seems to be in the range of €5 to €6 per hour.

My experience with IH's "Almost free Spanish lessons for adults" 8/2015 in Barcelona:

About 5 student-teachers, often one supervising teacher monitoring them, about 10 students. But the number of students declines over the duration of the class, so maybe 5 by the end. Class runs 2 hours per day, 4 days per week, for 3 weeks, costs €40.

The teachers are under a strict "only speak Spanish" rule, so understanding the instructions for each segment is very hard. A lot of time is wasted trying to figure out what they're asking you to do, not focusing on learning parts of the language.

This class definitely is NOT for complete beginners. You'll be totally lost if you don't come in knowing a fair amount of basic vocabulary, some numbers, basic pronunciation, etc. Also, bring an English-Spanish dictionary !

Although I didn't like many things about the class, just being forced to go regularly and look things up during and after class and review after class made me learn a lot.

At the end, for completing the course, they refunded €20, so the net cost for 24 hours of class was €20.

Info about IH's "Part-time Spanish courses" 3/2016 in Barcelona:

Course is 4 hours a week (2 hours for two days a week), lasting 10 weeks, for €310. So that's 40 hours, €8/hour.

Classes located at Trafalgar 14, near Urquinaona Metro station.

Info about BCN Languages 3/2016 in Barcelona:

"Standard" course is 3 hours a week (1.5 hours for two days a week), lasting 3 months, for €310. So that's about 39 hours, €8/hour.

"Intensive" course is 4 lessons (50 minutes each) per day, 5 days per week. 4 weeks for €584. So that's about 67 hours, €8.7/hour.

Classes located in Gracia, between Diagonal and Fontana Metro stations.

Info about Dinamo 3/2016 in Barcelona:

"Part Time" course is 3 hours a week (1.5 hours for two days a week), for €75/month. So if that's 12 hours, €6/hour.

"Semi Intense" course is 5 lessons (1.5 hours each) per week, for €180/month. So if that's 30 hours, €6/hour.

Classes located at Carrer de Lluis el Piados 9, between Urquinaona and Arc de Triomf Metro stations.

Info about Useful Languages 3/2016 in Barcelona:

Classes located at Carrer d'Arago 245, near Passeig de Gracia Metro station.

Info about Dime Barcelona 3/2016 in Barcelona:

"Extensive" course is 4 hours a week (2 hours for two days a week), for €145/4weeks. So that's €9/hour.

"Extensive 3" course is 6 hours a week (2 hours for three days a week), for €195/4weeks. So that's €8/hour.

"Intensive" course is 5 lessons (2 hours each) per week, for €285/4weeks. So that's €7/hour.

Classes located at Placa Lesseps, near Lesseps Metro station.

My experience with Dime Barcelona 4/2016 in Barcelona:

I joined an in-progress A.1 class for 1 month, 2 hours per day for 2 days a week. Started with total of 4 students, soon down to 2, last day had me as only student. I was sick with headaches for a week in the middle, but kept going to classes. Worked through Difusion's "Aula 1" textbook (on Amazon).

Everyone at school was super-friendly and helpful. And they had a free 1-hour "cultural" class once a week; I went to 3 of those.

But the classes were a bit expensive, and tended to start 5 minutes late and end 5 minutes early. I learned some good stuff, but decided not to continue. I was going on vacation for the next month anyway. And I'll try to work through the textbook on my own.

Total cost for 9 two-hour classes plus textbook was €183; that's €9/hour.

Info about ILAB Academy 3/2016 in Barcelona:

"Extensive" course is 4 hours a week (2 hours for two days a week), for €135/4weeks. So that's €8/hour.

Classes located at Balmes 21, between Universitat and Passeig de Gracia Metro stations.

Info about ELE USAL 3/2016 in Barcelona:

"Extensive" course is 4 hours a week, for €160/month. So that's about €10/hour.

Classes located at Carrer de Fontanella 21-23, near Urquinaona Metro station.


Wikitravel's "Spanish phrasebook"
Fodor's "Spanish Travel Phrases"
TravelPhrase's "Spanish Phrasebook"
BBC's "Languages: Spanish" (no longer being updated)



Books:
Rick Steves' "Spanish Phrase Book & Dictionary" (on Amazon)
"Lonely Planet Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary" (on Amazon)

For me as a beginner, I found it best to buy a phrasebook, and also listen to learn-Spanish audio podcasts.
[But I happened to start with a "Latin American Spanish" phrasebook, and that caused minor problems when I later went to Spanish class in Spain. There are some differences.]

When I got to advanced-beginner, I found it useful to read the text-crawl on Spanish TV news, do my Spanish income taxes online, and read a Spanish drivers-license study guide. I learn best if there is some interesting/useful context, where I know much of the meaning, but need to look up some words. And where I'm motivated to learn the material.



Attend language-learning-oriented social events or clubs in Spain, or do language-exchange ("intercambio").
Go to International House, click on your region, then look for a blog. For Barcelona, it is here.

Language "common reference levels" (A1, A2, B1, etc)



Terms in officialdom:

Abaco Advisers' "Glossary of legal and tax professionals in Spain"
Just Landed's "The legal system"
British Consulate-General Madrid's "English speaking lawyers in Spain" (PDF)



Some places in Spain have other languages in addition to Spanish: Catalan, Valenciana, Euskara, Galician, Asturian, etc. This can be a big issue if you will put children in the public schools; classes may be taught in the local language.
Lost in Sant Cugat's "Mono-lingual Catalan education in Catalonia"
Cale's "How is Catalan Different from Spanish"
I am told that in Catalan ALL verbs are irregular.



Some locals are quite militant about their local language: "you should learn Catalan, not Spanish". But I'm TERRIBLE at languages; it's going to be a horrible, multi-year effort for me to learn a second language to a not-very-fluent level. Should I spend that effort to learn a language spoken by over 400 million people in 30 or more countries, or to learn a language spoken by about 12 million people mainly in two or three provinces of one country ? [And it turned out that after a year or so, my lady and I moved from Catalunya to Andalucia.]

On my second one-week trip to Andalucia, I started to realize how much easier it is to learn Spanish there instead of in Barcelona. In Andalucia, every sign, every conversation is Spanish only; no Catalan. Makes everything easier.

Apparently various regions of Spain pronounce Spanish slightly differently: Andalucia leaves off "s" at ends of words ? Also local dialects (words) ? And Spanish in Latin America and South America can differ from Castilian Spanish in Spain, by pronunciation (such as letter "c") and words.

Likely to happen: this
Helpful translations on product packaging: Ketchup, Frying pan
Bilingual sign
Using Google Translate
Could be worse: words
How to conjugate verbs in Spanish

Quora's "How did the Arab occupation of Spain influence the Spanish language?"



Really not my business, but my opinions on Catalan independence:






Miscellaneous



As far as I can tell, Spanish criminal law and rights of citizens and suspects are almost identical to those in USA. A few exceptions: more explicit "social" or "human" rights in Spain, and jury trials are much rarer in Spain. One law to be aware of: it is illegal to photograph the police.



If someday you decide to stop living in Spain, what has to be done ?

Richelle de Wit's "Non-resident Certificate - When Leaving Spain For Good"
Richelle de Wit's "What Should I Do When Leaving Spain?"
AngloINFO's "Leaving Spain and Moving On"



Things that don't affect me, but I've heard about:




American Citizens Abroad (ACA)



Scams that affect everyone, but may have an expat wrinkle:




US Social Security survivor's benefits:

I am a US citizen, eligible to collect US Social Security benefits. If I reside in Spain and marry a Spanish citizen, then later I die, will my Spanish spouse be able to collect survivor's benefits from US Social Security ? If my spouse is already collecting Spanish Social Security benefits, what happens ?

There is a "Social Security Totalization Agreement" between USA and Spain. Such agreements are designed to avoid double-taxation, and also double-collection of benefits.
Taxes For Expats's "U.S. International Social Security Agreements"
Social Security's "U.S. International Social Security Agreements"

Spouse is required to have lived in USA for 5 years, except if there is a "totalization agreement" between the countries; the agreement may override this.
Social Security's "RS 02610.025 5 Year Residency Requirement for Alien Dependents/Survivors Outside the United States (U.S.)"

Spouse must reside in USA to collect benefits, according to: Tom Streissguth's "Can My Non-citizen Wife Receive Social Security Benefits After I Die?". Similar in Misty A. Watson's "Social Security Survivor Benefits for Noncitizens". But depends on country, and Spain is an exception, according to: Chad Creveling's "U.S. Social Security Tips for Expats & Non-Resident Alien Spouses".



El Gordo lottery:
Drawing on Dec 22.

A decimo (a tenth of a ticket) costs €20. There are about 180 "series" of 100,000 tickets each, and the winning ticket (match all 5 digits of El Gordo number, in order) in each series gets a prize usually around €4M.

There are many smaller prizes, for having last digit off by 1, same two last digits as winning number, etc. And there are prizes (second, third, etc) for matching all 5 digits (in order) of second, third, etc numbers drawn.

You can't pick any random number; you have to pick what your vendor has available for sale ?

Prizes over €2500 are taxable, at rate of at least 20%.

Chance of breaking even on your ticket purchase is about 10%; chance of making a profit is about 5%.

Have to be 18 years old, but can be citizen or not, resident or not.

Lotto's "El Gordo Navidad"
Wikipedia's "Spanish Christmas Lottery"



Humor:
tigerstark's "A guide to spain"
Matt St. John's "Spain vs. the USA illustrated"
Europe according to Spaniards from Alphadesigner

From Dave Barry's "Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need":
Measurements in Europe

Europe operates under the metric, or communist, system of measurement. The main units are the kilometer, the hectare, the thermometer, the pfennig, the libra, the megawatt, and the epigram. These are all very easy to remember because all you have to do is divide them by a specific number, possibly 100. ...



If you haven't already, see my Moving To Spain page.







This page updated: November 2017.



Bookmark and Share

Please send any comments to me.

Home       Site Map

Privacy policy