I work for www.costablancamagic.com and for nearly 10 years have helped people from the UK buy and settle into their dream home in Spain. So you’re thinking of moving to Spain: You’ve decided Spain would be quite a nice place to live and work, or perhaps just to live if you are retired or about to.

If you are already a member of the European Community, it is a relatively easy process. EC rules allow all members from member states to live and work in any other member state country. If you are from anywhere else, it is less easy but not impossible.

Acquiring a NIE Number

A British citizen, for example, just needs to present his passport at the national police station in the area they are moving to, or to an agent called a Gestor, who will deal with this for them: For a small fee they will be given a NIE number; This is a personal number that will be theirs all the time they live in Spain. It is needed for everything, even including an application for a loyalty card in stores.

Anyway, this NIE number (Numero de IdentificacionExtranjeros, or Foreigners’ Identification Number) is of vital importance. You will need to produce it if you get a job, or if you hire a car, or buy a car, or even to rent an apartment.

If you open a business, or take out a mortgage on a house, or even if you pay for your house in cash, you will need your NIE. Citizens are required by law to always carry ID on their person, and for foreigners this means the passport and this NIE number together.


The other thing that used to be required was that you take out what they call residencia, or residence: You are a resident of Spain, and the Spanish themselves have a national security card that can be used at airports instead of a passport. For a long time, Spain insisted that all of its immigrants carry this card. Then around 2003 they declared it no longer a necessity: Members of other European EC states did not need to apply for one, in fact now the residencia no longer exists.


Wherever you live in Spain, you should register yourself at your local town hall: This is called empadronamiento, and the certificate of empadronamiento is required to register with a doctor, among other things.

The certificate important, so remember to keep it safe, and if you move house, you must declare this at the town hall, for a new certificate.