Expat first steps for your Spanish dream lifestyle

Published:  20 Jun at 6 PM
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The dream of a Spanish lifestyle has seduced UK would-be expats for decades, but peace of mind and a lack of hassle depends on getting it right from the moment you arrive.

Emigrating overseas is an increasingly attractive option for British citizens approaching retirement. thinking of setting up a small business in a warm, friendly environment or simply searching for a change to a less stressful lifestyle. Spain’s Mediterranean coastline has long been a favourite destination for its combination of great weather, established expat communities and lower coast of living.

However, to fully enjoy your new life and take advantage of all Spain has to offer, it’s necessary to get yourself on the right legal footing as an expat resident. Failing to do so could cause problems at a later date and will certainly result in soaring stress levels. Easily available services such as healthcare, banking, property purchase and business start-ups all need to be backed up by the necessary registrations.

The burden of paperwork for expats arriving from Britain and other EU member states isn’t onerous, but has to be done. Your first step is to register with your chosen district’s local council, the Ayuntamiento. Once you’ve done this, you can make use of free council services, vote, volunteer for local events and much, much more. The local town hall is the place to get full details of your entitlement, and requesting to be placed on the electoral register is a good idea if you want to be fully involved in your chosen area.

The Numero Identificacion Extranjero is your expat ID document and is available from your nearest police station’s Foreigners department. You’ll need this for almost everything from getting a bank account and buying a home to setting up a business, obtaining your free healthcare and working. Paperwork needs include your passport, a copy and three photos, the EX15 application form, notification of any private health insurance and, for retirees, a bank account showing upwards of €5,000.

Booking an appointment saves time, but remembering Spain is Siesta land is also a good idea. Your ID card will take from two to six weeks to issue, and will cost around €21 in total. Think of the card as a ‘passport’ to Spain, its fascination culture, natural beauty, exuberant peoples and laid-back lifestyles and you can’t go wrong.
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