Are you seeking a new life in Spain? If the sound of a life near the beach, sipping tinto and enjoying a little tapa in the sun is not encouraging enough, Spain has a wealth of high-quality amenities. The Costa del Sol, for example, is more family friendly and expat friendly than ever, with a number of international schools, high class sports and leisure facilities, comprehensive health care services, reasonably priced property and overall, a great quality of life.

While it is fairly straight forward for EU citizens to make the move since there are less bureaucratic steps, Americans need not worry either as long as they have an understanding of the process.  

At Perez Legal Group, we help many Americans relocate to Spain each year which is why we have put together this guide for those seeking the move.  

Relocating to Spain – the move While EU citizens benefit from the Schengen agreement and do not have to gain a visa, the process for Americans is different. To enter the country, you will require a short-term Schengen visa valid for 90 days and to stay longer, you must apply for a long-term visa at the same time.

To apply for a Spanish visa, you’ll need to meet some requirements including;

  • Proof of sufficient financial funds
  • A clean criminal record
  • A certificate to show that you and your family are in good health

There are two exceptions to this. If you are deemed as a highly skilled worker, you can be issued with a European Blue Card, the equivalent of the Green Card in the US. The second is for those purchasing a property over 500,000€ (545,000$). Spain will grant you a visa which can be renewed every two years.

Relocating to Spain – paperwork Like with any move to a new country, you will need to get your paperwork in order! If you plan on spending longer than 183 days in Spain, you will be considered a resident and must register as one. In doing so, you will pay Spanish taxes and can therefore access the national healthcare system, vote etc. There are a number of things to consider, and it will be different depending on whether you are moving the family here or retiring here. Some of the factors you will need to consider include;

  • Application for the NIE certificate
  • Application of the residency card (if you will be living in Spain more than 183 days per year)
  • Changing your driving license for a Spanish one (American citizens must take a driving test, theory and practical, in Spain)
  • Opening a Spanish bank account
  • Setting up direct debits for bills
  • National healthcare or private healthcare application

Relocating to Spain – paying social security Unless you have a certificate to show that you are making contributions in the US, foreign workers must pay into  social security. If you are a resident here in Spain, any contributions are deductible.

Relocating to Spain – buying property As we mentioned, if you are buying a property over the half a million-euro mark, Spain will grant you with what is known as the Golden Visa and allows you to live here. The great news for expats is that there are no restrictions on property ownership for foreigners and there are many areas in the country which have seen buoyant market prices since the 2008 market crash.

If you’d like to learn more about the property purchase system in Spain, download our free e-guides here.

Relocating to Spain – healthcare Spain has fantastic healthcare facilities, whether you are using the private or the public system. If you become a resident in Spain, you will be able to access the public healthcare system, providing you have several papers including proof that you are paying taxes. If you prefer to take a private healthcare policy, most of which have English speaking professionals, there are several big-name companies which offer a comprehensive service.

Relocating to Spain – taxes If you become a resident in Spain, you have to commit to the Spanish tax system. While the US is one of the few countries that tax the international income of their citizens who live overseas, there are special provisions to prevent a double taxation.

Spain and the US have a tax treaty in place which helps to determine which country should be paid what taxes and when. Talk to your tax advisor to ensure the correct taxes are paid to the correct country. Taxes in Spain can be divided into several areas and these taxes must be paid yearly.

Income tax As a resident of Spain, your worldwide income will be subject to income tax, which is a progressive rate capped at 43%. Income tax includes;

  • Income earned from dividends and capital gains
  • Employment income, including those who are self-employed, gain a pension and those who make an income from property
  • The sale of any property, which incurs the declaration of the capital gains

Wealth tax If the value of your worldwide assets exceeds 700,000€ (763,000$) then you will have to pay the wealth tax.

Inheritance tax If you inherit money while living in Spain, you will have to pay a tax. Anything up to 1 million euros is free of tax, IF you have total assets amounting to less than 1 million. This only applied in the province of Andalucía, outside of here then the inheritance tax if free if your assets are less than 400,000€ in value.


Moving to Spain does not need to be complicated. Perez Legal Group offers a comprehensive service carefully tailored to you, to ensure that your move here is stress-free, allowing you to concentrate on settling into your new life.

Contact us for more information about our Relocation to Spain services; email or call us from the UK on this freephone number 0 20 36 95 23 30

MAKING YOUR LIFE EASIER: FREE UK number: 0 20 36 95 23 30 | +34 952 833 169 | |
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