If you, like many other British families and individuals, are planning to make the hop over the sea to Spain, you’re in good company. Whether you’re seeking a better balance between your work and home life, or you’re yearning for better weather, Spain has it all. From bustling ultra-modern cities to laid-back coastal communities, there is somewhere to suit your desires.
Even though Spain doesn’t feel too far from the UK, there are still plenty of logistical challenges to face when making an international move. Spanish customs clearance can involve a lot of paperwork; if it’s not just right, it can mean long delays to get your goods. Luckily, you’re not alone.
An experienced removals company like Cadogan Tate takes away the stress and strain of your move. We’ll take care of the practicalities, admin, paperwork and logistics, so you can focus on other aspects of your relocation.
While you’re preparing for your new life in the sun, we will ensure your removals is a seamless process. Get in touch today to find out more.
As Spain is one of the most popular locations for British expatriates to relocate to, we’ve helped hundreds of families and individuals with their international removals over the decades. We know the shipping routes inside out and can suggest the best transportation methods to suit your needs, to ensure your shipment gets to your new home as quickly as possible.
We’ve built up a wealth of experience in Spanish removals over the years and we can use that knowledge to support you through your move. Our aim is to make your experience as seamless and stress-free as possible. It starts with a simple request for a quote – either fill out the form on this page or give us a ring. We will send a relocation surveyor to your home to talk through your individual requirements. The surveyor will assess your belongings and discuss any special items you wish to move. They can inform you on all aspects of planning, packing, transporting and storage, deepening on your needs. Using this information, we can provide you with a no-obligation quote to suit your budget.
After this assessment, we can assign the correct resources to your move and put you in touch with your own Move Coordinator. Your Coordinator will ensure that your move goes smoothly, following a predetermined Move Plan and dealing with any changes along the way. You can then concentrate on other areas of preparation before your relocation.
We run frequent shipments to Spain, so we can arrange for your goods to reach your destination as quickly as possible – even within days, depending on the time to clear customs. We will ensure that all the paperwork is in place to get your goods released as quickly as possible, so you can get settled in your new home.
Moving to Spain is an exciting step, whether you are going to build your European career prospects, looking for a better work/life balance or retiring to sunnier climes. There is a lot to think about with any international move, which is why we have compiled a series of useful articles for British expatriates moving to Spain.
There is an overview of the key topics on this page, as well as more detailed guides throughout our Spanish hub. We have been moving families and individuals to Spain for decades, so we know the different regions and cultures well. If you’re moving for work, check out our in-depth city guides to Madrid and Barcelona to find out more about what to expect. We will continue adding more informative articles about life in Spain for British expats over the coming months.
Spain consists of both the mainland and the archipelagos of the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands, plus other smaller territories. All are popular with British expatriates, though professionals are usually based in the mainland cities, whereas retirees are either on the mainland coast or one of the island towns.
Spain is the largest country in Southern Europe and the second largest in the European Union. As it spans such a great distance, there is a lot of variety in culture, dialect and climate. In the southern peninsula areas, it is typically Mediterranean, with warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine. In the south-east, it is more arid and can have quite a long dry, hot season. In the north, the Oceanic climate is not dissimilar to the UK.
There are 17 autonomous communities and two autonomous cities across Spain, so there are regional differences in law, culture and taxation. They are all bound by a national constitution, which protects human rights across all cultures and traditions. There is a real mix of cultures across the country, even within the Spanish nationals. There are also strong community links and traditional events, plus a strong respect for heritage.
Spain remains one of the favourite locations for British expatriates. It offers a good balance between a modern, cultured business environment and a more laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle. This can be seen visually throughout the country’s architecture; the blend of new and old towns coexisting together.
The weather certainly helps with the work/life balance. With a balmy climate that offers reasonable temperatures throughout the year inland and on the coast, it’s easier to spend more time outside, taking part in activities and sports. It does depend where in the country you are living, but even the busy cities of Madrid and Barcelona can feel less frantic than London.
Many expatriates who emigrate to Spain are retirees and it is considered one of the best places to retire, particularly in the coastal regions. There are pockets of British expat communities that can make you feel instantly at home. There are also opportunities for British professionals, especially within the technical sector, and many large multinational corporations have bases in Spain.
Whatever your reason for moving to Spain, it is worth getting to know the language. There are several regional languages and dialects, and they are widely spoken. English may pass in the business world, but it will help you interact and engage with the community if you can communicate in Spanish.
Both buying and renting are good options for British expatriates. Many will opt to rent at first, to get a feel for the country, the neighbourhoods and the real estate options. While the property market has seen a drop in prices, the rental market is as strong as always, which means the very best properties can attract competition.
A typical rental contract lasts for a year, renewable annually on a long-term basis. A deposit is usually required of at least one month, but sometimes up to two or three months. In upscale apartment blocks, maintenance charges and fees will normally need to be paid, as well as the usual utilities. Landlords cannot ask for more than a month’s rent in advance. Spain has very good rental laws, which favour the tenant.
Unlike some other European countries, and similar to the UK, a lot of Spanish nationals do own their own home – up to 80% in fact. Investing in property in Spain is also popular for British expatriates, particularly while the market is favourable. Following a huge drop after the global financial crisis, there are signs of recovery, but it is still possible to pick up a luxury property at a fair price.
There are no restrictions on foreign nationals buying property, and investment in the housing market is very much encouraged. The system is straightforward, so you can buy a home in advance of your move and have it ready to move straight into if you desire.
The healthcare system in Spain is very well regarded. Most residents will have access to the state healthcare system, which is funded through social security payments, deducted from earnings. It works in a similar way to the NHS, with no upfront payments (except prescription costs). It is an efficient service and is supported by a government that invests in its healthcare – around 10% of the country’s GDP is spent on healthcare. Expatriates will need to register with the social security department and get a personal number, register with a doctor and apply for a health card to access services. Healthcare is a decentralised system, so conditions for using certain healthcare services may vary from region to region.
However, most expatriates, and a fair number of nationals, will also have private health insurance. This gives access to world-class facilities, as well as faster treatment and specialist consultants. Many people use a combination of both public and private services, depending on need. You are more likely to find English-speaking doctors in the private sector. It’s possible to get family plans, which offer good value and comprehensive coverage for your entire family. You should ensure that it includes a good dental policy, especially if you are moving to Spain with children.
The Spanish tax system can be complicated for expatriates, so you should always seek independent advice from a financial advisor who is experienced in expat tax affairs. There is a double taxation treaty in place with the UK, so you shouldn’t pay tax on the same assets twice.
The tax year runs from January to December, and you are considered a tax resident if you spend more than 183 days in Spain and conduct your main profession in Spain. Non-residents pay tax only on Spanish income at a fixed rate. However, tax residents, which applies to the majority of British expats living and working in Spain, pay tax on their worldwide income, which is split into two key areas: general income and savings income. The former is your salary, any rental income, pension payments, etc. The latter includes interest from savings accounts, dividends, life assurance policies, annuities and so on.
For savings income, there are three tax rates from 19-23%, depending on the value. Income tax varies from 19-43%, depending on the value. This includes both a national tax and a regional tax. There is also a wealth tax, based on worldwide wealth, which will need to be discussed with your advisor.
Your Move Coordinator can give you detailed shipping times. Expect your shipment to take around 2-5 days by sea. You will also need to allow 5-8 days to clear customs. Shipping times do vary depending on what transportation options you choose.
Most household items can be taken into Spain, though there are certain customs processes to comply with. Your entire shipment needs to have a detailed inventory, which can be prepared by your Cadogan Tate Move Coordinator. There should be two copies of this, in Spanish, signed and dated by you and certified by the Spanish consulate.
This applies to all items that are at least six months old, and the inventory will need to include details about all the appliances in the shipment, including serial numbers and original receipts where possible. If this process is not fully completed, you may be liable for import duty and it will delay your items clearing customs. There is usually no duty payable if you declare that you are keeping the items for at least a year after you arrive in Spain.
There are restrictions in place for new items (less than six months old), firearms, antiques, some artworks and food products.
You can opt to drive a vehicle into Spain or have it shipped. If you have owned your vehicle for more than six months, there are no import duties if you paid VAT on purchase. For older cars, where you are not the first owner, registration tax is levied based on its CO2 emissions and average market value. Your current MOT is also accepted until it expires, after which time you will need the Spanish equivalent, ITV. You will also have to arrange to change the plates to Spanish plates when you become a resident.
Moving with pets within the European Union is fairly straightforward. You should ensure that your pet’s Pet Passport is up to date (for dogs, cats and ferrets), including their ISO–compliant microchip information and records of all vaccinations, especially their rabies vaccination. Certain breeds of dog, while not banned, do have to be registered after entry and within the first three months, and they must wear a muzzle through security. For all other types of pet, it’s best to check with the Spanish authorities or ask your Move Coordinator.
Spain is one of the most popular international destinations for British expatriates, and we have moved hundreds of families and individuals from the UK.
Through our own experience, we have put together a series of detailed guides targeted towards those moving to Spain long term, covering everything from the lifestyle and work prospects, to real estate and taxation.
We have European offices in Paris and Nice, as well as in the UK, so wherever you are in Spain, you are not too far from a Cadogan Tate representative.
We make regular shipments to Spain from the UK, so get in touch today to find out how we can support your international move.