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Paperwork in Barcelona

What documents do I need to live, study and work legally in Barcelona?

Paperwork in Barcelona; moving to another country involves having to carry out numerous administrative procedures.

In order to live, work and study in Barcelona as an expat, there are certain documents that are mandatory or very necessary to obtain and the processes can be quite complicated if you’re not familiar with the Spanish system. Certain things such as renting accommodation or opening a bank account may require additional paperwork to be completed.


Please note: this also applies for interns/students carrying out placement years in Barcelona.

General paperwork in Barcelona

Paperwork in Barcelona: NIE/TIE

NIE in Barcelona

NIE: What is it?

The Identity Number for Foreign Nationals (NIE) is a unique number granted to EU/EEA foreign nationals in Spain. Obtaining a NIE is essential as it will give you permission to both live and work in Spain for a period longer than 3 months. 

TIE: What is it?

The Identity Card for Foreign Nationals (TIE) is a physical ID card containing a chip with biographical data and images concerning the owner. It must be held by non-EU nationals authorised to stay in Spain for a period exceeding six months, or by all foreign nationals with a long-term permit.


Having a NIE/TIE is essential for most official procedures such as: getting a job, renting or buying property, opening a bank account, paying taxes and applying for other documents.

Seguridad Social

Paperwork in Barcelona

What is it?

Whether an EU or Non-EU citizen, one of the first things you should do after moving to Barcelona is request a social security number (número de la seguridad social). Without this, you cannot work and/or pay your contributions to Spain’s Social Security system.


You will also need to show you are paying your contributions before you can access the public healthcare system.

How can I get one?

If your employer doesn’t arrange your social security number, you can do this at the closest General Treasury of the Social Security System office (Tesorería de la Seguridad Social). Read more about the required documents needed for your appointment via the link below. 


Checklist for expats in Barcelona

What is it?

Having a Certificado de Empadronamiento officially registers you within the municipality and will make you a citizen of the city in which you reside. For anyone wishing to live in Spain for longer than six months, it is obligatory to have an Empadronamiento. 


It is also needed for other administrative procedures such as applying for a residence card (TIE), applying for a health card, getting married and enrolling your children in local schools.

How can I register?

You can apply for your Empadronamiento either as an individual or as a family. You can do this in person at the Citizen’s Assistance Office (Oficina d’Atenció Ciutadana) of Barcelona City Council or online.


To apply you will need to present the following documents:

    • A valid passport (one for each member of the family) 
    • An original copy of your rental contract
    • Signed application form

If the application is carried out in person, the documentation must be original and in hard copy. To complete the formality online, the documentation provided must be photocopies.

Bear in mind that documents that aren’t in Spanish will need to be officially translated. 

Paperwork in Barcelona: Certificado Digital

Paperwork in Barcelona

What is it?

The Certificado Digital is an online document containing your personal details. It enables you to identify yourself online and share information with other people and bodies. Certain applications can only be submitted online (The Beckham Law for example), which means that you will need a Certificado Digital in order to prove your identity.

Every certificate can be identified by a unique serial number and has a specific validity period.

How can I get on?

  1. Apply for your certificate online. On completion of the application procedure, you will receive an email containing an application code which you will need to give proof of your identity and subsequently, when downloading the certificate.
  2. Prove your identity at a Registration Office. Once you have your application code, you must then provide proof of your identity at one of the Registration Offices in Barcelona.
  3. Download your User Certificate. Once you have given proof of your identity at a Registration Office, you can download and install your certificate by using your application code.

Paperwork in Barcelona: Cl@ve Pin

What is it?

The Cl@ve system helps simplify electronic access for citizens to public services. Similar to the Certificado Digital, its main purpose is to allow citizens to identify themselves online by means of fixed keys (username and password).

Cl@ve compliments current systems using electronic ID and the Certificado Digital, also offering the possibility to carry out cloud-based signature operations with personal certificates protected on remote servers.

How can I get on?

To use these set keys and the cloud-based signature service, citizens must register in the system, providing their personal information.


  1. You need to register yourself in the system either in person at any of the local registration offices in Barcelona, or online using your Certificado Digital.
  2. Once you have registered, two access keys will be provided:
    1. Temporary Cl@ve pin: intended for temporary access.
    2. Permanent Cl@ve pin: intended for permanent access, and for use of your cloud-based signature.


There are many different options when it comes to renting a property in Barcelona, but they are usually grouped into three categories: short, middle and long-term rentals.


A short-term rental is classed as anything fewer than 31 nights.


Any mid-term rental usually has a period between 32 days to 11 months.


A standard long-term lease is for one year. The tenant then has the right to renew each year for up to five more years.

No matter the type of contract, it’s worth getting someone to check it and translate it for you, so that you fully understand what you’re signing and don’t get caught in a scam.

Documents required

You need to be able to prove that you can afford the rent. Landlords may ask for a copy of your work contract, or a letter from your employer confirming that you will be employed during the rental period.


If you’re self-employed or have a work contract with a company outside Spain, landlords may also ask you for a higher deposit.

Paperwork in Barcelona: Banking

Banking in Barcelona

Before opening a bank account in Spain, you should first make sure that you have obtained your NIE (as is the case for most official procedures). 


Banks are usually only open 9am–2pm Monday to Friday and most don’t have English-speaking staff; so you should either book an appointment with an English-speaker or bring someone with you who can translate.


In order to open a bank account, you will need the following documents:

  • Proof of identity (e.g passport or national identity card)
  • Your Spanish NIE number
  • Proof of your Spanish address (e.g. a lease, a recent utility bill or a recent bank statement)
  • Proof of employment status (e.g. employment contract, student card or unemployment paperwork)

Bear in mind that documents that aren’t in Spanish will need to be officially translated.


Accounts are usually opened within 1–5 working days, with documentation and credit cards dispatched within two weeks.

Paperwork in Barcelona: Insurances

Certain types of insurance in Spain are compulsory, for example:

Social insurance

The social security system in Spain requires all workers earning at least minimum wage to contribute social security payments every month. In addition to healthcare, social security in Spain includes: work-related sickness or injury, family and child benefits, invalidity benefit, old-age pension and unemployment benefits.

Health insurance

Spain has a state-funded healthcare system which provides free healthcare to all residents. If you qualify to access the state system, this will be covered by your social security contributions. However, many expats choose to pay for optional private health insurance also. The benefits of which include shorter waiting times and access to English-speaking doctors.

Car insurance

Car insurance – If you wish to drive in Spain, the law requires a minimum level of car insurance (also known as seguro a terceros), which covers damage to third parties, fire and theft. 

Other insurances

There are other types of insurance that you might need in addition to the above, such as:

  • Dental insurance (social insurance only covers the annual dental check-up and cleaning for children up to the age of 18)
  • Home insurance
  • Contents insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Commercial insurance
  • Pet insurance.

Cancelling your insurance

As of 2016, you must give a notice period of at least one month if you wish to cancel any insurance policy prior to the renewal date.  


However, insurers must notify you to any changes to the policy (such as a price increase), two months prior to your renewal. If they fail to do so or they inform you late, you have the right to refuse this increase and continue to pay the old premium, or cancel the insurance altogether.

More about paperwork in Barcelona

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