The Ultimate Relocation Guide to Barcelona

So you decided to pack your bags and move to Barcelona? Good for you!

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Barcelona is one of Europe’s favourite vacation spots and is very welcoming towards expats. It is one of the top tech cities in Europe for startups and is continuing to grow this reputation.

Moving to Barcelona puts every expat in a good mood with its sunny days, beach, beautiful architecture and the relaxed way of living.

Whether you are moving because you got a job here or you just want to live in one of the best cities in the world, we have your back! In this blog post you can read all the important stuff you need to relocate the smoothest way as possible.

Before moving

Before you hop on the plane you need to make sure that you have all the required documents and permits to enter and live in Spain.

Legalisation and translation

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To start your relocation process you need to have your official documents (like your birth certificate) legalised and translated to Spanish. The translation needs to be legal and must be produced and stamped by a certified official translator (traductor jurado). 

The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs certifies the translators who have legal capacity to translate from one language to another and whose translation is accurate. This ministry published an official list of certified translators which you can choose from.

Certain documents require an apostille which is a special stamp that certifies the validity of a document within the countries that participate in the Hague Convention of 1961. It has to be produced in the origin country or the embassy, since official translators cannot issue apostilles for foreign documents.

Visas and permits

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If you would like to move to Barcelona, you might need a visa.

If you’re a national from one of the countries in the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA) — which is, all the countries of the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway — or Switzerland, you don’t need a visa or other permit to visit, live, work or study in Spain and you only need a valid national identity document or passport to enter the country. If you are a citizen of the United Kingdom or Ireland you will require a passport to enter since these countries are not members of the Schengen Area.

Nationals from other countries will need a visa to live in Spain, and in most cases, a work permit too. You can check the list of countries whose nationals must have a visa when entering the country.

You can apply for a short-stay Schengen visa (visado de corta duracion) which allows you to stay (but not work) in Spain for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. 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 to stay longer than three months.

It’s important to know, that you cannot change your status from a short-term visa to employee, student or resident from within the country; you need to return to your home country and apply for a new visa from there.

If you are not a citizen of the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you’ll need a longer-term national visa (visado nacionale) if you intend to live, work, study or carry out research in Spain for longer than three months.

You cannot apply for your own work visa in Spain since employers must submit the application on your behalf.

Non-EU national investors, entrepreneurs, highly qualified professionals and researchers can apply for fast-track visas and permits, which offer preferential treatment, such as automatic residence for the whole family with no minimum stay, and free travel throughout the Schengen visa region.

You can find more information on visas and permits here.

Start to learn about Spain

Before you move to Spain it might be useful to learn a little bit about the country and the culture. The website of the government has an English version where you can find news and general information about the country. Also, there is a great website where you can find information about the traditions, culture and history of Barcelona.


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This is maybe one of the most important things to do before you move to Barcelona: find your perfect place to live! Finding the best match for you requires some research and it can be also a challenge so make sure you check out our tips! 🙂

You have two possibilities: private rentals or buying a property.

As for renting you can have a long-term accommodation which is usually any term longer than six months. A standard long-term rental contract in Barcelona is now valid for five years. The minimum term is 12 months but you can leave after six months usually by paying a penalty.

Here are some websites where you can look for an apartment:

You can also check out Facebook groups, for example this or this. Just search for “Barcelona accommodation” or “Barcelona apartments”.

You can also hire an agent to help you out. They usually charge one month’s rent or 10% of the annual rental cost as their agent fee. There is also a VAT on op of that (21%). Make sure you engage the services of a bilingual and reputable agent to walk you through the paperwork. You can find rental agencies here.

When you calculate your rental budget you need to think about the deposit too which is usually 2 months’ rent and you also need to pay 1 months’ rent in advance too. Find out how much money you will need to start renting out an apartment by multiplying your rental budget by 3 or 4.

Also, you need to be able to prove that you can afford the rent so the owner or the agency may ask for your work contract or a letter from your employer which confirms that you will be employed.

When you rent for a long term, utilities are usually not included in the rent, you have to pay them separately.

If you are not sure which neighbourhood of Barcelona you want to live in, you can find more info about it here.

As for buying a house, you find more information here.

If you are open to share an apartment with others, check out Badi where you can find available rooms in shared apartments.

And don’t forget, if an apartment is beautiful, has a great location and suspiciously cheap it could be a scam.

After moving

Congrats, the hardest part is now behind you! You are finally in sunny Barcelona in your new home with all the required documents, permits and visas. Now it’s time to arrange some local things before you head to the beach! 😉


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Every expat, including EU/EEA/Swiss nationals, must have a Foreigner’s Identity Number (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) or NIE. This is a must for any financial transaction in Spain, like opening a bank account, being paid for employment or paying taxes.

EU nationals will be issued with a NIE when they apply for their registration certificate; others can apply after they have their residence permit.

You should also get a Certificado de Empadronamiento by registering on the census register called the padrón at your local Town Hall.

Within 30 days of arriving in Spain, all non-EU/EEA and Swiss citizens who want to stay for longer than three months must apply for a residence card/permit (Tarjeta de Residencia or TIE). You can apply for it at the Foreigner’s Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or police station in the province where you’re living.

An easy way to get these done is by employing an immigrant specialist to help you book your appointment at the police station and have all the paperwork in correct order.

You can find a great detailed step by step guide about registering here.

If you need a lawyer, you can find English speaking lawyers here.

Bank account

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Spain’s banking system consists of 141 current private banks (including 80 foreign-owned ones) and many regional cooperative and savings banks. The Banco de Espana is Spain’s national bank which also serves as the regulator for the banking sector.

If you would like to go with a Spanish bank, check out CaixaBank, BBVA, Banco Sabadell or Santander.

If you don’t want to open an account with a Spanish bank, there are great international banks to choose from in Spain like Deutsche Bank or ING.

To open a non-resident’s account all you need is your passport, or your temporary NIE and photo ID. If you have official resident status you can open a resident’s account, and you will need your resident’s NIE. Resident’s accounts are better deals — better commissions and fewer charges, but there is not much difference.

Or you can go for an online and mobile banks, like bunq, N26 or Revolut.

You can find more info about banking in Spain here.

Health insurance

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Spain’s healthcare system is regularly rated among the world’s best with universal coverage and no upfront expenditure from patients.

The Spanish hospitals (hospitales) and healthcare centres (centros de salud) offer both private (privado) and state healthcare services (asistencia sanitaria pública). You don’t need to have private health insurance to get medical treatment in Spain, but it usually gets you faster treatment for non-emergency procedures, diagnosis tests or specialist consultancies.

State healthcare is free of charge to anyone living and working in Spain, since it is paid partly by social security payments, which will be deducted from your wage.

You can find information about registering with a doctor here.

After you register with your local health centre or doctor, you will receive a SIP (Sistema de Informacion Poblacional) health card which you will need to show whenever you access state healthcare services or treatments.

If you are not paying social security contributions or you require additional health services, then you can choose to take out private health insurance or pay the full amount of any medical costs.

The largest private providers are Aetna International, Allianz Care, BUPA Global, Cigna Global and Globality Health.

You can compare private health insurance providers with the following tools (in Spanish): and

Dental work in Spain does not fall under the public care system and must be paid for in full by the individual, unless they have private health insurance in Spain. Dentist fees in Spain are relatively inexpensive and the general quality of care is of a high standard. You can find more info about dentists here.

If you need an English speaking doctor, tourist offices and embassies can often provide a list of them. If you don’t speak Spanish, some practices and hospitals may be able to provide an interpreter for you for €10–15 per hour.

You can find more health advice here.

Let’s get connected

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Once you are here you need to get a Spanish mobile subscription, internet and television.

The apartment which you rent probably has an internet and television subscription already, if not you can choose one for yourself. Prices vary depending on the provider and the package you go for, but it is around 30–40 EUR a month. Besides the monthly fee, providers often charge a signup fee (cuota de alta) for the installation, however the router will usually be provided at no extra cost. Be aware that it can take a week or longer until your internet is installed, so getting a temporary solution, like Wifi Away while you are waiting for it can be a good choice.

As for mobile subscriptions there are the 4 main providers with their own network:

You can also go for a smaller provider, like DIGI mobil, Lycamobile, Lebara, Simyo, Llamaya and many more.

The prices vary depending on which provider you choose. For example a monthly subscription with 3GB data is 15 EUR.

Finding a job

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If you didn’t move here with a work contract in your hands you are probably looking for a job.

The best way to do that is to browse job sites like LinkedIn, Indeed or Monster. You can look for startup and tech jobs on Barcinno. You can also check Infojobs, Craigslist, Jobsinbarcelona, Think Spain and Xpatjobs.

Most foreigners who work for Spanish firms can apply for Spanish tax breaks as long as they fulfil certain criteria.

If you meet the requirements, you are entitled to cut your income tax. You can read more about it here.

In Spain, personal connection is very important and a lot of jobs are filled through referrals instead of advertising them. Get involved in your expat community and let people know that you are actively looking for a job.

Also, if you need help finding your dream job, Try Catch can help you connect with Europe’s leading tech companies! You just need to sign up on the website.

Settle in and enjoy

Yes, you did it! You arranged all the necessary stuff, now it is time to settle in and enjoy Barcelona!

Hop on a bike

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In Barcelona, cycling is one of the cheapest and easiest way to get around. The weather is often very nice so it is a pleasure to bike around the city.

You can buy a bike or try a bike service like Bicing which offers an annual subscription.

Barcelona is also the city with the biggest density of scooters in Europe. You’ll hear and see them everywhere. They are definitely the fastest way to get around town or there are great scooter sharing options like Acciona, Yego, Scoot and eCooltra. You can read more about it here.

Learn the language

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The first thing to bear in mind when moving to Barcelona, is that the first official language of the the city and region is Catalan. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, an autonomous region in Spain. Road signs, metro instructions and other public notices often appear in Catalan and not Spanish, whilst Catalan is spoken in all public institutions such as schools.

There are amazing applications like Duolingo or Drops which can help you get started and of course there are language courses you can register for.

If you want to learn the basics, there is a public institution which offers a free initial course.

Also, offers a free virtual learning opportunity or you can check out the top 7 language schools in Barcelona.

To start right away, here are some basics:

  • Good morning! — Bon dia!
  • Hi! / Bye! — Hola! / Adéu!
  • Please! — Sisplau!
  • Thank you! — Gràcies!
  • Yes / No — Sí / No
  • Cheers! — Salut!

Join groups

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There are some cool international groups and clubs in Barcelona and by joining one of them can help you socialise and find new friends easily.

You can check out sites like Meetup, attend international events and join Facebook groups to find your new buddies!

Enjoy life

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Barcelona is the best place to enjoy life and live the relaxed Spanish lifestyle. It is a city where people like to follow their passions, and you can find people to share almost any hobby with, from music to street art or extreme sports.

Since the sun shines almost every day, you can enjoy the beach in the city, have drinks at chiringuitos, watch an opera at the Liceu Theatre or a classical concert at the Palau de la Musica Catalana.

If you like to party, you are at the right place. The nightlife of Barcelona is awesome and there are a lot of bars and clubs, festivals and live music events.

If you want to explore the beautiful Catalan countryside you should check out the Pyrenees or the Costa Brava. You can also visit the medieval villages in the Priorat and Cava wine regions and enjoy delicious wines.

Try Catch will also plan to organize events where we would bring together all the amazing tech people in Barcelona to have fun, connect and make new friends! Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn to stay updated!

If you are looking for new career opportunities, make sure to sign up via our website so we can help you get your dream tech job!

Author: Zsofia Bodnar


Founder at Try Catch

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