Guide to Living in Spain


Help is at hand for dealing with Spanish paperwork

Spain is still a favourite choice for many people looking to move abroad. The Valencia region is the top destination in Spain with more than 82,000 UK residents. Many of these will have settled in the Alicante region, heading for beach resorts such as Javea, Orihuela, Torrevieja and Benidorm or inland in the Jalon Valley.

The climate – considered to be one of the best by the World Health Organisation – culture, cuisine and way of life are all contributed factors to why people move to the Alicante region.  Many retire here while others find work or set up their own business, with running a bar or restaurant, hairdressing and beauty therapies, or teaching English being popular employment choices.

Living in Spain has many advantages – sunshine, sports facilities, beaches, golf courses, fresh local food, including fish straight from the sea, health care and quality of life. 

Spend time playing golf in Alicante, not filling in your tax returns

However, dealing with Spanish bureaucracy can be a drawback.  How to get a NIE number – or even why do you need a NIE number? Can I use the Spanish healthcare system? Which is the best way to transfer money from my currency to euros?   What taxes do I have to pay? How do I register to run my own business? Should I set up as a freelance (autonomo) worker? Where is the best place to get insurance for my car, house, contents and pets?  What should I do with my pensions?

Getting the right answers to these and many other legal and financial matters can be confusing. That is why My Guide Alicante has written a quick guide, with recommended professionals, to help.

You can read about getting a NIE number, opening a bank account, buying property and registering on the padron on our Guide to Moving to Spain.

The first thing you may want to do is to move your pension plans overseas or to make investments to save for the future. 

Get help with your tax returns and paperwork in Spain

Am I eligible for healthcare in Spain?

This can be complicated for many people. Pensioners are entitled but need to fill in S1 form from the UK before registering with the local INSS office in Spain and then register with a GP surgery.

Early retirees are unlikely to be entitled but will need to contact the UK overseas healthcare team to find out. They may need to either pay social security to Spain to access the public health system or take out private medical insurance.

 If you work in Spain and make monthly social security payments here, you will be covered but need to register at INSS for a SIP card and then register with a GP. If unsure how to go about this, there are professionals who can help. If you are not covered, you will need private health insurance, which is readily available, too. ASSSA Health Insurance is a company with more than 80 years of experience offering quality health insurance in Spain especially designed for expats.

What’s the best way to change currency?

If you need to change money from one currency to another, say from sterling to euros, the bank rates can be very disappointing. To keep more of your money and to get a better rate, it is advisable to use a foreign exchange trader. They know the markets and can get the best exchange rates. This is particularly important if you are changing large sums of money, for example if you are buying or selling a property, or if you regularly change money.

Smart Currency Exchange helps clients to effectively and efficiently send and receive payments internationally.

Paying taxes as a worker in Spain

Taxing times

Knowing whether you should be a tax resident in Spain or your home country can be another dilemma. Whether you are a resident or not, you will still need to pay tax in Spain and to declare earnings or pension.  You may also want help with your quarterly tax returns if you work in Spain.

It is also now essential to declare whether you have assets of €50,000 or more in another country. So if you still own property in your home country, you will need to declare it.

 Not filling in the forms on time can result in a hefty fine, so using a gestor or accountant can save you money and a lot of worry in the long term.

Insure yourself and your belongings

When you go back to your home country or take a holiday, you will need to be covered by travel insurance which offers medical help and protects your belongings if they are mislaid or stolen.

Other insurance you may need in Spain include house insurance, pet insurance, car or boat insurance, and medical insurance.

Make sure you