How to move to Malaga

Málaga, on the Costa del Sol in Spain, is the ideal destination with its pleasant climate, exceptional cuisine, and stunning beaches. With an adaptable lifestyle and English as a widely spoken second language, it is perfect for expatriates.

Understanding Spanish residency

To grasp how to obtain Spanish residency, it’s crucial to understand that you should only start the process if you intend to stay in Spain for more than 90 days.

If you are thinking about moving to Málaga, there are no complications for EU citizens planning short stays – no visa or authorization is needed. However, if you’re from outside the EU, you’ll require a short-stay Schengen visa, valid for 90 days within a 180-day period.

If your plans are more ambitious and you envision a longer stay, whether for work or personal reasons, the key is to apply for Spanish residency. This opens the door for you to live in Spain, initially for about a year, with the possibility of renewal! The process varies based on whether you’re an EU citizen or coming from a non-EU country.

EU citizens

As a citizen of the European Union, enjoying the freedom to travel and live without restrictions in the Schengen area for three months is a privilege. And when the time comes to formalize your stay, obtaining a residence permit in Spain as an EU citizen is a simple and easy-to-follow process.

Upon landing in Spain, the first step is registering with the Register of EU Citizens. Among the requirements, you simply need to demonstrate that you have the necessary financial resources for your stay, and if you bring your family with you, also for them.

Once you’ve obtained the residence permit, you can renew it. And the good news is that after five years, you can apply for permanent residency! You just need to prove your continuous presence in Spain during that time.

If you want to read more about permanent residency for European citizens, you can do so at the following link: Long-Term Residency for EU Citizens in Spain.

Visa for Non-EU citizens

If you’re one of those adventurous spirits worldwide dreaming of moving to Malaga Spain, who don’t belong to the European Union and whose plan is to stay more than three months, you will need the appropriate visa based on your goals in Spain. The variety of options may seem overwhelming, as depending on whether you are moving to work, study, or enjoy your retirement, the type of visa required may vary.

In these cases, the most common visas to consider are the Golden Visa, the non-lucrative visa, and the digital nomad visa. You can read more about these at the following links:

On the other hand, for short stays of less than 90 days, some countries will require the Schengen visa, while those exempt from this requirement will need to obtain the ETIAS authorization. The latter, which will come into effect in 2025, is a travel authorization for Europe valid for up to three consecutive years or until the expiration date of the applicant’s passport.

Tejada Solicitors recommends consulting with legal and tax experts who will provide necessary and uncomplicated guidance. Our law firm has lawyers specializing in immigration, property conveyancing, and taxation. They work together to study each case from different perspectives.

Do you need a professional help for move to Malaga?

Legal and tax aspects of property purchase in Malaga

If you’re considering buying property in Málaga, you only need a valid passport, an NIE number (Spanish Tax Number), and a Spanish bank account.

To ensure a smooth transaction, we recommend engaging an independent and bilingual lawyer for the conveyancing process. Our Law Firm will handle the timeline, language considerations, legal, and tax aspects, ensuring your Spanish property purchase is in safe hands.

Key steps in the conveyancing process include:

1.Offer and acceptance of the purchase.
2. Reservation agreement.
3. Due diligence phase (legal report prepared by our experts).
4. Private purchase contract. This contract, drafted by the lawyer in Spanish and English, involves paying approximately 10% of the price at that time.
5. Completion, payment of the balance, and handover of keys.
6. Common costs accompanying the purchase of a property in Spain:

    • VAT or STAMP DUTY in Spain:
    • Stamp Duty: 7% (existing properties)
    • In the case of a new house, you are required to cover a 10% VAT (or IVA), along with an additional 1.2% of the documented legal acts.
    • Notary Fees
    • Land Registry Fees
    • Legal Fees on buying a house. Feel free to inquire about our rates without any obligation.

 7. As the owner of a property in Spain, you’ll be responsible for various taxes after buying:

    • Property tax (IBI)
    • Non-resident tax
    • Rental Income Tax if the property is rented out.

Follow the link to learn more about   How much does it cost buy a house in Spain? 

Last but not least, we will handle the transfer of utility and tax ownership to ensure they are registered under the buyer’s name and linked to their bank account.

With this comprehensive knowledge of legal requirements, additional costs, and property search options, you’re well-equipped to make an informed decision about purchasing property in Spain.

Interesting read: How to buy proprety in Spain

Renting out property in Malaga

Renting out your property in Malaga 

Málaga has experienced a remarkable surge in tourism in recent years, as reported by “La Opinión de Málaga.” In the past year, it welcomed 14 million tourists, marking a 9.4% increase from 2022 and one million more than in 2019, which was previously the best-recorded year. Francisco Salado, President of Tourism Costa del Sol and the Diputación de Málaga, highlighted this achievement in his annual assessment. He also reported an increase in tourist accommodation offerings in 2023, reaching 580,428 beds, a 14.7% growth compared to 2022, including properties designated for tourism.

International tourism, especially from Germany, has seen an uptick, and efforts are underway to attract tourists from the United States and Canada in 2024. Existing connectivity, such as the direct flight to New York, is emphasized, and plans are in motion to explore new direct routes between Málaga and other North American cities. Málaga is gearing up for an even more exciting future in international tourism! You can find more details in the article: La Opinión de Málaga.

Considering the significant growth in the tourist rental market, the decision of moving to Málaga and allocating your property in Spain for this type of lease, as per Cadena Ser, can increase profitability by up to 150%. Technology integration, such as pricing automation systems, optimizes income by adjusting it based on market supply and conditions. This tool also streamlines vacation rental management for property owners, as it assists in automatically handling bookings.

For property owners opting to engage in short-term tourist rentals, adherence to regulations is contingent upon the autonomous community where their property is situated. In the case of properties located in Andalusia, the following regulations apply to urban and rural homes designated for holiday use:

Interesting read: Spanish Property Solicitors

Urban Homes for Holiday Rental in Andalusia

Homes intended for holiday use are characterized as urban residences providing accommodation “regularly and for touristic purposes.” As per Royal Decree 28/2016 of the 2nd of February, such dwellings in Andalusia must be enlisted in the Andalusian Tourism Register. Detailed information on the procedure and prerequisites for urban property registration can be found on our dedicated page.

In addition to the mentioned Royal Decree, the Horizontal Property Law, effective from the 6th of March 2019, imposes constraints on holiday rentals for all urban properties within a community of owners:

  • Owners’ associations have the authority to restrict the number of apartments/properties available for holiday rentals, contingent on the favourable agreement of three-fifths of the total owners.
  • Residents associations can opt to raise special maintenance fees for properties designated for tourist rentals, up to a maximum of 20% above the original fee.
  • Owners’ associations are unable to prohibit holiday rentals for properties that already held the corresponding license and were utilized for such purposes before the enactment of the Horizontal Property Law.

Rural Homes for Holiday Rental in Andalusia Starting from the 12th of May, 2016, Andalusia implemented new regulations governing holiday rentals for rural properties in the countryside. Such properties, advertised or marketed through channels facilitating accommodation reservations, travel agencies, or companies mediating or organizing tourist services, must be registered with the Andalusian Tourism Registry through rural property registration.

Interesting read: Urban property registration

Do you need a professional help for move to Malaga?

Tax implications in Spain

Following the enactment of stricter controls on property owners through holiday rental laws, it has become imperative for individuals leasing properties in Spain to ensure the accurate declaration of rental income.

Rental Income for Residents in Spain:

For residents of Spain, taxation extends to worldwide income. Moreover, per the double taxation agreements established by Spain, income generated from assets situated abroad is subject to taxation in Spain and the country where the assets are located.

In cases of rental incomes originating from the UK, the provisions outlined in Article 6 of the Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) between Spain and the UK come into effect. Spanish tax residents must declare and pay taxes on their rental income in both the UK and Spain. To mitigate the risk of double taxation, the tax amount paid in England is deductible in the Spanish resident’s income tax return, aligning with the terms outlined in the agreement and domestic regulations.

Article 6 also regulates such types of income in reference to the double taxation agreements signed between Spain and Canada and Spain and the USA. Similarly, the tax paid in the source country will be deducted in the country of residence, in this case, Spain.

As a tax resident of Spain, if you receive income from the rental of real estate in Spain or abroad, you may apply tax deductions.

Rental income for non-residents

Non-resident Europeans: Despite residing abroad, European citizens who rent out a property in Spain are required to pay foreign tax, known as IRNR (Impuesto sobre la Renta de No Residentes). Following 24.6 LIRNR (Real Decreto Legislativo 5/2004, the 5th of March), property owners must pay tax on the net rent, which is the income minus expenses. These expenses can only be deducted with the presentation of a fiscal residence certificate from your home country. Deductions are restricted to the proportionate share of expenses corresponding to the duration for which the property has been rented.

Non-residents outside the EU, such as citizens from the USA, Canada, or the United Kingdom: According to 24.1 LIRNR, residents in non-EU countries or EEA (Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein) generating rental income in Spain (this tax regulation applies uniformly to both long-term and short-term rentals) are subject to taxation on their total income derived from rentals. This means that no expenses can be deducted. Non-EU, non-residents are subject to full tax with no deductions or allowances possible.

Interesting read: Renting out a property in Spain

Healthcare and Driving License in Malaga

Certainly, Spain boasts one of the most outstanding healthcare systems globally. In this context, foreigners with legal residency in the country can access the prestigious Social Security Health System, whether retirees or workers—both self-employed and employed.

A range of options opens up for expatriates with legal residency in Spain who do not fall into the mentioned categories. They can choose to take out private health insurance or join the special Social Security agreement, granting them the right to healthcare by paying a monthly fee.

Concerning this special agreement, expatriates who can prove their effective residence in Spain for at least one year (for non-Europeans) and three months (for Europeans), are duly registered, and lack access to a healthcare protection system through any other means, can subscribe to it. The monthly fees for this agreement are €60 for individuals under 65 years old and €157 for those surpassing that age.

When you move to Málaga and obtain the residency in Spain, you can apply for the exchange of your driving license if your home country has an agreement in this regard. This process allows you to exchange your license for an equivalent one issued by the Spanish DGT within a period of 6 months. This exchange covers all driving authorizations you had in your country, such as motorcycles, cars, and buses, consolidating into your new Spanish license. There is no need to exchange for each type of license.

Generally, you can exchange if your license is from the European Union, the European Economic Area, countries with agreements for license exchange, and in the case of professional licenses, even if there is no agreement. You can check if you can opt for the exchange on the DGT website: Canjes de permisos de conducir (homologación de permisos) (

If there is no agreement between your home country and Spain, you must undergo theoretical and practical exams to obtain your driving license in Spanish territory.

Do you need a professional help for move to Malaga?

Living in Malaga

Cultural Integration in Malaga

Málaga stands out as a major tourist destination, not only for its beaches but also for its rich cultural offerings. Museums such as the Picasso Museum, Carmen Thyssen Museum, and Centre Pompidou, among others, play a crucial role in boosting cultural, educational, and touristic activities in the city. In addition to the museums, Málaga features attractions like La Alcazaba, Gibralfaro Castle, the Roman Theatre, the Cathedral, beaches, and the Historical Botanical Garden of La Concepción.

At the provincial level, charming towns like Nerja, with the impressive Nerja Cave and the cliffs of Maro; Frigiliana, with its old town and traditions like the Festival of the Three Cultures; Mijas, known for its traditional architecture and panoramic views; and Marbella, famous for its beaches and places like the Old Town, Puerto Banús, and the Golden Mile, enrich the tourist offerings of the region.

Education and schooling options

Another aspect to consider for foreign citizens aiming to move to Málaga with school-age children is that Málaga offers a wide range of educational options, including public, subsidized, and private schools.

Choosing a school is an important task, and there is an online platform where you can gather information about the best schools. This tool is available at the following link: Top 25 Schools in Málaga, Málaga – Ranking 2024

This platform has gained widespread acceptance among parents, allowing them to evaluate various aspects of each school, such as reviews, the demand for information, and the visits it generates. Additionally, it offers contact information and key dates for your children’s enrollment process.

In the array of Málaga schools, there is a notable variety of bilingual options, with the British School of Málaga standing out. It is a private school that adopts a comprehensive educational model, covering from early childhood education to high school.
Another highly regarded educational institution is the Lycée Français International De Málaga, offering a complete education from early childhood to high school. This school is distinguished by its focus on performance and excellence, with Spanish as the vehicular language.

Additionally, Málaga is home to one of the best universities in the region, featuring schools and higher education centres focused on Information Technology and Production. This drives the formation of highly qualified talent. The university also plays a crucial role in the Málaga TechPark (PTA), a topic we will address in the next point, as collaborations and joint actions between both institutions have experienced significant growth in intensity.

Employment and business opportunities

Málaga has experienced impressive growth as a business hub in recent years, capturing the attention of foreign citizens looking to establish themselves in Spain. The Technology Park of Andalusia (PTA) stands out as a conglomerate of companies, startups, and researchers committed to providing quality infrastructure and services to enhance business competitiveness through digital technologies.

Located amidst green spaces and areas of expansion, the PTA not only attracts foreign entrepreneurs but also fosters talent and entrepreneurial spirit by offering sustainable and energy-efficient environments. Málaga is an exceptional destination for skilled professionals and international companies seeking to establish themselves.

A notable aspect is the presence of Europe’s first specialized cybersecurity centre, inaugurated by Google in Málaga. This centre contributes to making the Internet a safer place, especially appealing to digital nomads. Additionally, the city is known for hosting a vibrant hub of startups in engineering and technology, establishing itself as a benchmark destination for international business establishments.

For digital nomads seeking a place to settle, moving to Malaga is the best choice.

Malaga visa

Public services and infrastructure

It is worth noting that Málaga, thanks to its strategic geographical location, stands out as an exceptionally well-connected city to the rest of the world. Its airport, ranked among the busiest in Europe, serves as a global gateway. The impressive port of Málaga receives millions of visitors daily and has become one of Europe’s preferred cruise destinations. Along the Malaga coast, there are 15 marinas that add an extra charm. Additionally, the city is linked to the rest of Spain through the Mediterranean highway and connected nationally and internationally by trains and buses. Regarding internal transportation systems, Málaga has an efficient metro system that offers special monthly passes for students and retirees.

In this way, accessibility and comprehensive connectivity make Málaga a privileged place to live and explore.

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Safety and legal protections

When moving to Spain, it is natural to have questions about your personal freedoms and how to protect your rights. However, the country’s government and political system address these concerns seriously, committing to safeguard freedom of expression, access to decent housing, quality education, and health and safety.

In Málaga, legal security is essential for stability in legal relationships, even for expatriates, ensuring respect for human rights and protecting the population against the abuse of power. In summary, legal security is a fundamental pillar of democracy, the rule of law, and social well-being in Málaga and globally.

Regarding legal protection for expatriates who become tax residents in Spain and own properties, it is advisable to draft a Spanish will. In this regard, it is crucial to study how the assets will be distributed, as this will influence the future when they pass away, and the heirs have to manage the inheritance tax.

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