Moving to Spain? Read our guide for expats to find out more about Spanish culture and how Barclays can help.




As of December 2015, the population of Spain is 48.1 million

Source: CIA World Factbook

Main languages

Castilian Spanish (official) 74%, Catalan 17%, Galician 7%, and Basque 2%

Source: CIA World Factbook


Roman Catholic 94%, other 6%

Source: CIA World Factbook

Time zone

Central European is GMT+1:00

Popular employment sectors

Tourism is the biggest employment sector in Spain. Education is another major sector, while Biotech is the fastest growing.

Source: Economy Watch


If you are from the European Union/EEA or Switzerland, and moving to Spain, you can live and work without restriction, with the exception of Croatians who will need a permit until 30 June 2020. Most non-EU citizens will need a work permit to live and work in Spain although there are some exceptions, such as academics or scientists or close relatives who are joining family members who have been working in Spain for one year or more.

Source: Expatica

Political system

Spain has a parliamentary monarchy

Source: CIA World Factbook


Voltage - 230v, plug has two round pins


The currency of Spain is the Euro

International dialing code

The international dialing code for Spain is +34

Internet domain

The internet domain for Spain is .es

Social media

Facebook and YouTube are Spain’s biggest social networks, but local site Tuenti is also incredibly popular. It is invite only.


The average broadband speed advertised in Spain is up to 10Mbit/s, but actual speeds are often lower. According to an independent study, Superfast Broadband is available to around 60% of homes – very rural areas may not have a broadband connection, so check availability and speed with providers or ask neighbours before relocating.

Source: Point Topic [PDF, 449KB]

Mobile network coverage

Mobile coverage and 3G are widely available across Spain. 4G is limited to provider and area – mostly the big cities. All major providers have coverage maps on their websites.

Sources: Movistar, Orange

Emergency numbers

The emergency number within Spain is 112


If you're planning to work after moving to Spain, you will have access to free state healthcare, paid partly by social security payments, which will then be deducted from your wages. The Spanish healthcare service is regularly rated amongst the best in the world, guaranteeing universal coverage and no upfront expenditure from patients apart from paying a proportion of prescription charges.

Source: Expatica


Spain is famous for fantastic food – local dishes include Paella, tapas, manchego cheese, chorizo and fish dishes.

Source: Expatica


The Spanish like to dress stylishly, particularly for big events, so presentation is important. This is particularly true in a business environment.

Source: Ideal Spain


There is no obligation to tip in Spain, however for coffees and lunch a small tip (5%) is fair. For dinner, 10%. In a cab, round the fare to the nearest euro.

Sources: TripAdvisor, The Spain Scoop

Education system

Entrance to state schools is awarded according to catchment, and state education is free.

Sources: Expatica,

Cost of private education

Fees at independent foreign schools range from around €4,000 more than €8,000 a year.

Source: Expatica

Top universities

  1. University of Barcelona
  2. Universitat Autonoma Barcelona
  3. Universidad Autonoma Madrid
  4. University Complutense Madrid
  5. University of Madrid

Source: Top Universities

Cost of childcare

State nurseries are around €250 per month

Source: Expatica

Cost of a nanny

Around €800 per month

Source: Expatica

Family activities

The Spanish often enjoy free family activities such as a day at the beach, or a meal together (including kids, until late at night) rather than visiting an attraction. A visit to the cinema costs €8 per seat.

Source: Expatica


Vehicles drive on the right side of the road. There are different rules regarding driving licences in Spain depending upon where you come from. Some drivers are allowed to keep their own or simply exchange it for a Spanish one (“licencia de conduccion”), some are required to exchange it and some cannot be exchanged so those people need to take a Spanish driving test, which has both practical and theory sections. If you’re moving to Spain, you should check which rule applies to you beforehand.

Source: AngloINFO

Train ticket costs

Trains are cheap, and (at unsociable times) start from just €14 for a 400km journey from Bilbao

Source: Trainline

Cost of a taxi journey

This varies throughout Spain – expect €1-2 per km.

Source: Numbeo

Main airports

Adolfo Suárez Madrid- Barajas; Barcelona-El Prat; Palma de Mallorca

Source: Aena

Utility bills

One month (heating, electricity, gas) for two people in 85m2 flat - €143 (Seville)

Source: Expatistan

National Insurance Contributions

When you live and work in the UK, you make National Insurance Contributions (NICS), which mean you’re entitled to claim a state pension at retirement and other benefits. If you move abroad and stop paying UK NICS, the amount of state pension and other benefits you can claim when you return to the UK could be affected. However, you can make voluntary payments to top up you contributions. There are two types of contribution that you can make, either Class 2 or Class 3.

Source: GOV.UK

The information above has been collated from a range of reputable sources. Some of the lifestyle information may be anecdotal or the opinion of the source and is therefore a guide only. If living abroad and planning to return to the UK, you may want to continue making National Insurance payments in the UK to contribute to a state pension. Visit for more information.

What's next?

If you are thinking of moving to Spain then Barclays can offer you the following services: Banking, Savings, Foreign Exchange and our Relationship service.

If you would like to discuss these services further, please call us on +44 (0)1624 684316*

Alternatively, if you are ready to open an account with Barclays International, please use the button below: