Moving to Spain

12 February 2021

The Move


Information about moving to Spain and annecdotal advice for those about to move. Moving/removal companies, different services, lists of boxes, shipping, customs, ports, valuating your goods, and getting your empadronamiento for expatriates in Spain.


As soon as you arrive in Spain...show your new address to the Oficina de Empadronamiento in order to get your Alta de Residencia and your Certificado de Empadronamiento, good for free public health care..."

We suggest you to be clear on our Moving to Spain “to do list” before reading this page.

We had a horrible experience in our move from New York.  We unfortunately chose Official Moving System, who eventually gave door-to-port service when we paid for door-to-door service.  On the bright side, they subcontracted Bax Global who were great, with a very helpful agent (Sonia) in Madrid.  Be careful who you choose; it’s obviously very costly and difficult to complain to the movers from another country.  For me, the Better Business Bureau and other government agencies did not help in reclamation.

Regardless of who you choose, talk to the relocation agent in Spain first (and DON’T choose a company that doesn’t have an agent in Spain).  Doing the move by sea, you get charged by volume; by air, they charge by weight.  (USA: A ship leaves from New York to Barcelona once a week and the journey takes a week.) If you pack yourself, MAKE A LIST OF THE CONTENTS OF ALL YOUR BOXES.  When the stuff gets to Spanish customs, they’ll need this list.

Customs: When your belongings arrive in the Spanish port, they will need to pass through customs. While your moving company will be handling most of this, there are some things you should know. There may be a 16% tax (IVA) on the value of all your goods. If one of you is a Spanish citizen, do everything related to the move in that person’s name to avoid this tax (and that person should do the baja de residencia in the originating country. Otherwise, you can avoid this tax by showing, somehow, that the move is permanent. Also, customs may set the value of your goods based on how much you insured the goods for. As soon as you arrive in Spain, take your Rental Agreement/Property Title, plus (for Sevilla, anyway) two different utility bills (gas/electricity/telephone) showing your new address to the Oficina de Empadronamiento in order to get your Alta de Residencia and your Certificado de Empadronamiento, good for free but limited health care and free entrance to museums, among other things. See Doctors in Spain for more info about your health care card and empadronamiento.

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