International & Domestic Moving, Moving to Australia

Moving to Spain

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Ready to move?

We here at Restore Harrow Green understand that moving abroad can be as daunting as it is exciting and our aim is to help you move into your new life with none of the stress and only the excitement to look forward to.  

We realise that choosing the right relocation partner is important to you, because you expect the best possible service when entrusting us with your personal effects, which is what we strive to deliver. From the very first moment you contact us, your needs are our utmost concern.

Spain is one of the most popular destinations for British expats with the advantage of not being too far away if you need to travel back frequently, but what are the main things to look out before packing up and moving away, and how will moving improve your standard of living?

Will you be working?

The Spanish economy has been affected by the recession in recent years so you should look into whether your skills are transferable to the local job market. For the time being, before the potential onset of Brexit, as an EU citizen, you won’t need a work permit to find employment but you will need to apply for a national insurance number. If, like many, you intend to live on your British pension make sure to account for fluctuations between the Euro and the Sterling which might cause disruptions to your budget. 

A National Insurance Number (NIE) will also be necessary when opening a bank account or buying/selling a property or car. To apply for your NIE you’ll need to go to your local Police station or Oficina de Extranjeros with your passport (and a copy), photos, a completed EX-15 form as well as a document explaining why you need the NIE and a Spanish forwarding address. You can start this process before leaving the UK at your closest consulate to get the ball rolling early. The process is the same for opening a bank account.

Quality of life:

Compared to the UK Spain can be a lot more affordable, especially in areas off the tourist trail. Property is also more affordable but once again, tourist areas and city centres can cost a lot more. 

If you’d like to really blend in it is advisable to learn the language. This will help you find a job, integrate, appreciate the culture more and of course, make day to day interactions a lot easier with government bodies. It’s also worth noting that Spanish is only one of four official languages (Castilian, Galician, Basque and Catalan) so depending on the area you’ll be moving to it might help you to familiarise yourself with one of those as well.  


Much like the UK, Spain has a free national health service which all EU residents are able to take advantage of. In fact, if you make National Insurance contributions, you’ll be eligible for the state-run health care just like the locals. Once again however, a potential Brexit will affect this so make provisions for private healthcare just in case. Alternatively you can check the terms of your British health insurance, which will probably cover you temporarily. Retirees should keep in mind that the NHS no longer reimburses medical costs to non-working Britons under 65 living in the EU so health insurance might be your only option. 

Things worth noting:

  • Unlike the UK, all butane gas for cooking and heating is supplied in bottles from specific providers. To buy one you need to present your supplier with your NIE card in order to sign the contract enabling you to purchase your gas. Don’t forget to tip the gas delivery man when he arrives!  
  • Working hours can be longer than the UK, but lunch breaks are also longer so if you don’t live too far, you can always pop home for a siesta. Shops or businesses will also tend to open late and close later, so dinner time can often be 8 or 9pm.  
  • As rain is far less frequent in Spain than it is in the UK, don’t be surprised to have plans cancelled in case of such an eventuality. 
  • Much like several other continental countries, be prepared to treat people on your birthday. This might include taking cakes or snacks to share with your colleagues at work or school or shouting for dinner. 

We’re here to help:

For a quote, we offer the option of visiting your home for a face to face meeting, or if you wish, you can arrange a video survey at a time that suits you, in order to receive your cost estimate.

Once you’ve selected us, you’ll be assigned with your dedicated move manager who will discuss your options and together you can build a customised plan to best suit your relocation needs. This will include insurance requirements, storage needs as well as anything else you might require. 
As the move approaches, your move manager will go through every detail of the job with you, from packing advice, delivery estimates and customs regulations that you will need to take into consideration. They will guide and support you every step of the way.  
On the day of your move we will arrive at your property where we will export wrap and pack your effects, load them into your selected size of container before transferring them to the port where they will be kept until the scheduled transportation date.  

When transporting your items by sea we use secure steel containers which come in two universal sizes of 20ft or 40ft, however, you have the option of choosing your preferred method from the following, depending on your budget:

•   Full container load - uses the whole of a container and gives you the security that your items have been packed and sealed within the UK.
•    Loose groupage - allocates you a space within a container which is shared with other Harrow Green customers moving to the same location. All your items are individually catalogued and labelled for tracking at any point during the move. This is a cost effective shipping solution for small to medium sized requirements. 
•     Cased groupage - your items are placed within a timber case which is then shipped with other grouped consignments. This is another cost effective option with an added layer of security.
•    Consolidated airfreight - the equivalent of part load consignments, this is ideal for smaller shipments, and provides a cost effective solution. This method is preferred when you don’t have a lot of belongings to transport or are taking your most essential effects to your new home. This method can accommodate up to 500 lbs worth of items and has a quicker transit time.

How long will it all take and what do I need to do?

The average time for your consignment to arrive in Spain will range from 3-5 weeks depending on the method you choose.

Items moving from one European county to another have few customs restrictions but if in doubt this FIDI guide as well as the Spanish Customs website can help. Once your items arrive our local agent will help you navigate Customs clearance and our network of trusted and vetted Spanish partners will help you complete your relocation by delivering and unpacking your effects on your agreed date. Your move manager will be able to advise you and answer all your questions. 

If you require assistance finding a new home, school or other issues relating to your move, we can help make your transition even easier with our Destination or Relocation management services.