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International Relocation for Expats in Spain

Submitted: August 2013

An international relocation can be a wearisome process, especially if you are managing the whole process on your own. You will find yourself with a seemingly endless to-do list: apply for a visa, obtain a working permit, search for jobs, find an apartment, ship belongings to your new home... Therefore it is crucial to be well-organised. Our Expat Briefing articles provide helpful guidelines in this respect. At the same time, you may also consider consulting one of the specialised relocation companies to assist with your relocation process.

Relocation companies

In recent years, relocation companies have become very popular with expats moving to international destinations. Most of these companies do not only arrange the shipment of your belongings abroad, but also assist with visa applications and apartment search, offer guidance on administrative procedures and advise on how to best settle into the new environment. A clear advantage of opting for a relocation company is that it will save you a great deal of administrative work and ensure that your relocation meets all rules and regulations in the destination country.

You can either look for a good relocation company in your home country or in the country of destination. It is recommendable to have a look at various websites and get quotes from different relocation companies, as prices may vary significantly. Also make sure to check which services are included. For examples of companies offering relocation services to Spain see:


Moving your belongings

If you are planning your relocation without the help of a relocation company, you should consider how to best move your personal items to Spain. Most airline companies will only allow one free piece of luggage when travelling into the country. Sending items via post or express delivery services such as DHL or UPS is only recommendable for lesser quantities, as heavy parcels tend to have “heavy” price tags.

Depending on where you are travelling from, relocating to Spain by car might be a comfortable and budget-friendly option, yet for moving larger quantities it is best to choose one of the specialised shipment companies. These can also ship your pets and vehicles. Do not forget, however, to opt for a good insurance policy.

Most of the relocation companies mentioned above offer shipment services. Other examples of specialised shipment companies include:

Note that if you are an EU-citizen moving to Spain, there are generally no restrictions on the personal and household items you may take with you and no import taxes or duties due.
If you are relocating from a non-EU country, however, your belongings may be subject to certain restrictions, duties and taxes. In general most household items and personal belongings must be owned for at least 6 months prior to importation to be allowed into Spain duty free. Upon entering Spain you will also need to declare cash amounts of over EUR10,000 to customs officers. To read more on Spanish importation regulations see the Website of the Spanish Customs Office, Agencia Tributaria.

On how to relocate to Spain with your family and/or pets see: Relocation with Families and Pets for Expats in Spain.

Importing your vehicle

EU citizens may take their car or motorcycle to Spain without paying VAT (IVA in Spanish), provided that it is a used vehicle that has been owned for at least 6 months and for which they have already paid VAT in their country of origin. If importing a new vehicle, VAT must be paid at a rate of 21%. Non-EU citizens must pay the 21% VAT plus an import tax of 10%.

Both EU and non-EU citizens will also have to pay a registration tax (‘Impuesto Especial sobre Determinados Medios de Transporte’), which is based on the market value of the vehicle and its CO2 emissions. For this purpose, you will have to complete the form 576 and submit it electronically to the Spanish Customs Office. To access the form and obtain more information click here.

Vehicles from EU countries can be driven in Spain with foreign licence plates for the duration of 6 months. After that they will have to be registered in Spain. On the other hand, non-EU vehicles must be registered right away. For more information see the website of the Spanish transport authority on registering vehicles.

For more information on driving in Spain see Driving and Public Transport for Expats.

Arriving in Spain

After successfully relocating to Spain, you will have to take care of several administrative matters, such as opening a bank account, registering with a doctor, applying for a Spanish tax number (NIE), obtaining an identity card for foreigners (TIE), etc. To find out more, have a look at other sections of our Expat Briefing Website and consult the site of the Immigration Authority on Procedures for expats after relocation.



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