No one likes paperwork, but it’s part and parcel of moving to a new country. And it’s best to hit it head-on, so you can open the bureaucratic doors of Barcelona and step smoothly and quickly into your new life.
NIE number: The golden ticket
Your first paper step in Barcelona should be toward a police station to get an NIE—Número de Identidad de Extranjero (foreign identity number). This will ease the way for you concerning the legal stuff, from opening a bank account to applying for a job and buying a property.
Start by making an appointment, or a cita previa, through the Spanish government’s website. Then, when the time comes, take your passport, along with two copies of it, a completed Modelo EX-15 form and two copies of it, your Spanish address, and the reason for your stay to a police station.
Be prepared to pop to the bank to pay a money order of about €10 and return to the police station with the receipt. And above all, be prepared to wait! Get there early in the morning and bring a book, a coffee, and some earphones, because there’s no speeding up or avoiding this bureaucratic step.
Do non-EU residents need a visa to live in Barcelona?
Nationals from countries outside the EU, EEA (the EU member states, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway), and Switzerland will need a visa to live in Barcelona and, in most cases, a work permit, too.
A short-stay Schengen visa (visado de corta duración) allows you to stay in Spain—but not work—for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. If you have a Schengen visa issued by another Schengen state, you can also enjoy the flavors and soak up the atmosphere for 90 days.
Nationals from the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand don’t need a short-stay visa to enter Spain, but will need to apply for a long-term residence visa (visado nacional) to stay longer than three months.
There are different types of residence and work permits, depending on the purpose of your stay. A combined residence and work visa (visado de trabajo y residencia) allows you to live and work in Spain, a student visa (visado de estudios) is valid for the duration of an unpaid educational or training course, while a residence visa (visado de residencia) is what is required for family reunification or retirement.
Work-visa applications must be submitted by your employer on your behalf. As for student visas, don’t apply for one until you’ve been accepted onto a course or program.
Freelance writer, journalist and author
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