Moving to Barcelona: 10 things to do ASAP

Moving to Barcelona

Moving to Barcelona is a great idea! Before you can really make the most of life in the city, though, there are a few administrative formalities to deal with.

1.Moving to Barcelona: sign your children up for school

If you have children, getting them registered with a school should be one of the first things on your list. You’ll need to plan well ahead, preferably several months before your arrival in Barcelona.

2. Get a Spanish phone number


Even if you’re planning on signing up for a pay monthly contract later, it’s worth getting hold of a PAYG SIM as soon as you arrive in Barcelona. Having a local phone number will make your other administrative tasks simpler and considerably cheaper. There’s nothing to stop you from changing later on, and there’ll be no cancellation fees.

3. Find somewhere to stay

It’s obviously a good idea to get a feel for the local housing market before you arrive in Barcelona, but we recommend waiting until you arrive to find somewhere to stay. It’s important to visit places yourself, see the area and check what’s included in order to avoid disappointment or worse…

While you’re waiting, there are plenty of hotels, holiday apartments (there are sometimes reductions to be had if you’re renting for a full month), or you could find a room in a flat share.

4. Register with the local council (empadronamiento)

Once you’ve found somewhere to stay, you’ll want to get hold of your empadronamiento as soon as possible. This proves registration with the local council, and acts as poof of address. You’ll need it for practically all other administrative processes, so it’s pretty critical.

5. Register with your national consulate

This isn’t compulsory, but it’s highly recommended, as it indicates your residency in Spain to the authorities in your home country.

Once you’ve signed up, you’ll get news from the consulate, and you’ll be able to renew your papers (passport, ID cards, etc.) there. For more information, contact your consulate.

6. Find a job

As with school registrations, it’s a good idea to start looking for a job before you arrive. The financial crisis hit Spain hard, and the country has yet to recover fully. Certain sectors are particularly difficult to get into. Find as much information as you can before you come, speak to people who live in Barcelona, or, better, find someone who works in your area to advise you.

7. Get a Número de Identificación de Extranjer (NIE)

The NIE is an identification number for foreign residents in Spain, and you’ll need one for a number of administrative tasks, such as opening a bank account or getting a phone contract (although not for PAYG SIM cards, as mentioned above).

There’s a bit of a vicious circle, because in order to get an NIE, you’ll need to prove you have a job, or the financial resources to cover your needs. Generally, expats begin by looking for work, then register for an NIE once they have a provisional contract.

8. Obtain a social security number

Like the NIE, you must have a social security number in order to work – it has to be shown on your contract. You’ll need an NIE before you can apply.

9. Open a bank account

Even if you already have a bank account in a Eurozone country, you’ll need a Spanish account in order to pay your utility bills, phone bills, etc.

To open an account, you’ll need your passport or ID card and your NIE. Take the time to compare offers, because certain banks charge commission on almost everything and there’s the potential for some nasty surprises.

10. Convert your driving licence


This one isn’t urgent, because you have up to two years to do it, but it’s best to get it out of the way. If you hold a non-Spanish driving licence, you may need to convert it to a Spanish one, and you’ll need to register with the DGT (dirección general del tráfico), the Spanish traffic authorities. There is a fee to pay for this service.

Don’t forget to take some time off from all the paperwork to enjoy life in Barcelona, its beaches, museums, restaurants and bars! After all, you deserve a break…


  1. Hi thanks for all your advices. I am from Morocco and I would like to move to Barcelona. I have for the moment a tourist visa I hope I could find a job and settle there but I have not much ideas about the procedure what is written in the article is about European citizens. Do you have any idea about what a non European should do? Thanks in advance for your answer.

    1. Good morning Fatiha,

      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, we don’t have further information about the visa for non Europeans. We suggest you seek advice through the Spanish embassy or consulate in your city. Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *