Moving to Spain from Canada

Relocating to Spain from Canada has become a popular trend in recent years. Various factors make life in Spain particularly appealing, such as its favourable climate, excellent healthcare system, art and culture, renowned Mediterranean cuisine, great transportation networks, beautiful beaches, and quality of life.

When deciding to emigrate to Spain, it’s crucial to have a clear purpose for the move. Depending on the reason for relocation, a specific type of visa will be required. Primarily, there is a distinction between moving for work or academic reasons and the intention to reside in the country without engaging in any profitable activity.

Visa options when you move to Spain from Canada

If you’re planning to settle in Spain from Canada, it’s essential to understand the steps involved. First and foremost, you’ll need to obtain a visa. Typically, this process starts at the Consular or Embassy office of Canada that corresponds to your area of residence.

At this point, choosing the right visa is crucial because there are various types of visas for Spain, and you should select the one that best suits your purpose of stay. Here are the main visa options, and we will detail the most commonly sought-after ones later:

Golden Visa or Investor Residence Authorization, for those who intend to invest in Spain, either in public debt or real estate.

Entrepreneur Visa, for individuals looking to start a business activity in Spain.

Visa for Highly Qualified Workers or Intra-Company Transfer. In this case, the visa must be sponsored by the employer in Spain, and the residence permit will be linked to the employment contract, renewing consecutively as long as the contract remains in force.

Researcher Visa.

Non-Lucrative Residence Visa, also known as a retirement visa, chosen by individuals who have sufficient financial resources and do not need to engage in economic activities in Spain.

Digital Nomad Visa (for remote work).

Visa for Employment by a Third Party.

Self-Employment Visa.

Study Visa, granted to Canadian students in Spain, but it’s essential to ensure compliance with all requirements and renew this visa as needed to avoid legal issues.

Internship Visa.

Schengen Visa (for short stays). Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa requirement for stays of fewer than 90 days within any 180-day period.

Family Member of a European Union Citizen Visa.

Important Changes to Consider for Entry into Spain: For citizens from outside the European Union, previously, if you travelled to Spain as a tourist or for business for less than 90 days, you didn’t need a visa. However, from January 2024, Canadian tourists will need to obtain an ETIAS travel authorization before their arrival. This is an electronic permit that allows travel throughout Europe and Schengen countries. It can be applied for online, costs around 7 euros, and once approved, is valid for stays of up to 90 consecutive days within a 3-year period.

At Tejada Solicitors, we have experts in this field and can advise you on the entire visa procedure, taxes, and property transactions. These areas are regulated differently but are interconnected. We always recommend considering the implications of obtaining a visa with regard to taxes, as you might be surprised at how many clients change their minds upon learning about the taxes they will pay in Spain as tax residents.

Non-Lucrative Residence Visa

This type of visa allows for stays in Spain that exceed 90 days, but does not authorize engaging in professional or economic activities. To apply for this visa, you need to demonstrate the availability of sufficient financial resources to cover your stay in Spain. This should be backed by evidence of financial solvency, such as certified bank statements from the corresponding bank. Although this visa doesn’t permit working in Spain, it does allow for remote work for a foreign company from Spanish territory. However, if the goal is telecommuting, there might be another more interesting alternative.

The Spanish embassy in the Canadian jurisdiction where the applicant resides will be responsible for granting this visa, which has a validity of 90 days, during which the beneficiary must enter Spain. Once in Spanish territory, you will have one month to apply for the Foreigner Identity Card at the corresponding Immigration Office or Police Station.

The initial residence authorization is granted for a period of one year, starting from the date of entry into Spain. Subsequently, it can be renewed for an additional two years as long as the necessary requirements continue to be met.

Digital Nomad Visa

This is a visa that has recently come into effect and is granted to highly qualified professionals who will carry out their work remotely for companies located outside of Spain, exclusively using computer, telematic, or telecommunication means. Another requirement for this type of visa is that the Canadian citizen must demonstrate having a work contract with a foreign company that is at least 3 months old and that the company allows remote work.

With this visa, Spain aims to attract talent and make taxation and bureaucracy more attractive for this type of remote worker.

The visa is valid for a maximum of 1 year, and it also serves as proof of residence in Spain, so there’s no need to obtain a Foreigner Identity Card. However, you can request one if you wish to do so.

Golden Visa

Discover the enticing path to your residency in Spain through strategic investment. This visa is designed for visionaries who wish to make a significant investment in the vibrant Spanish market. You have various investment options:

Invest at least 2 million euros in Spanish public debt securities or a minimum of 1 million euros in shares or social participation.

Dive into the exciting real estate world with a property acquisition worth a minimum of 500,000 euros, completely free of encumbrances. If you’re part of a marriage under a community property regime, an attractive option would be for one to obtain the investor visa and the other as a family member of the investor.

Alternatively, launch an innovative business project in Spain that generates significant socio-economic impact, creates jobs, or contributes significantly to scientific or technological innovation.

Is your investment channelled through an entity? Not a problem. It’s permissible to make the investment through a legal entity, as long as it meets certain criteria, such as not being based in a tax haven, and you, as the investor, have control over the majority of its decisions.

But that’s not all. With this visa, you not only establish yourself in Spain but also enjoy the freedom to move within the Schengen area, encompassing 26 European countries, without requiring any additional visas.

You can initiate your application from the Consulate in your home country and obtain a 1-year visa, after which you can apply for a residence authorization in Spain for two years, which is renewable. Alternatively, if you want to save time and costs, you can start the process directly in Spain upon arrival, thereby obtaining the initial residence authorization for 2 years, also renewable.

Furthermore, it’s not necessary to apply for a Foreigner Identity Card, although if you prefer to have one, you can request it at the Immigration Office or the local Police Station.

Permanent residence

Imagine diving even deeper into Spanish life. After five years of legal and continuous residence in Spain, Canadian citizens have the exciting opportunity to apply for permanent residence. This special status allows you to stay in Spain for another five years, granting you the freedom to live and work, either independently or as an employee, enjoying the same privileges as any resident of the country.

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Checklist for moving from Canada to Spain

Here are the essential steps to follow when relocating to Spain from Canada, regardless of the reason for your move. Before your arrival and once in Spain, you will need to fulfill certain legal and tax obligations both in Canada and in Spanish territory. To streamline the relocation process, the Tejada Solicitors team has prepared this checklist:

  1. Assess Your Situation to Determine the Appropriate Visa: It’s crucial to identify the type of visa that best suits your personal situation and your objectives in Spain. It’s important to note that Canadian citizens do not belong to the European Union, so the process may be more complex, and it’s vital to ensure compliance with all requirements.
  2. Initiate the Visa Application Process: Typically, visa applications are started at the Embassy or Consulate of Spain in your home country, with the exception of investor visas like the Golden Visa or Digital Nomad Visa, which can be initiated directly in Spain. Once you have obtained the relevant visa, you should travel to Spain within the next 90 days. Once in Spain, you may need to apply for the Foreigner Identity Card, depending on the type of visa you hold.

1. Spanish NIE Number

Obtaining your NIE, which stands for Numero de Identificación de Extranjero (Spanish Foreigner Identification Number), is a crucial step in your journey to Spain. It’s highly advisable to complete this process before your arrival to make your transition as smooth as possible.

In the event that you can’t apply in advance, you also have the option to obtain your NIE while you are in Spain. This can be done through the immigration office or a local police station. Alternatively, our team of lawyers can handle the procedure on your behalf.

living in Spain as a canadian

2. Tax Residence in Spain

Since you will be establishing permanent residency in Spain, it’s crucial to fulfill your tax obligations as a Spanish tax resident, a requirement for obtaining your TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero). According to Article 9 of the Personal Income Tax Law, if an individual resides in Spanish territory for more than 183 days or has their primary financial interests located in Spain, they must become a tax resident in Spain. To achieve this, you must ensure compliance with the following tax obligations:

Personal Income Tax (IRPF) – Model 100: Your worldwide income will be subject to taxation in Spain (capital gains, rental incomes, dividens, etc.). To avoid double taxation, it’s essential to establish a double taxation agreement between Spain and your country of origin.

Declaration of AssetsForm 720: Every individual and legal entity is required to complete Form 720 to declare overseas assets exceeding €50,000 outside of Spain. This step is crucial to prevent any accusations of tax evasion.

Wealth Tax – A tax that levies on worldwide net assets exceeding 3,700,000 euros.

Make sure to stay informed and up-to-date with these obligations to fully enjoy your residency in Spain.

3. Spanish Medical Care

The Spanish healthcare system is recognized as one of the best, and it’s free for those who are affiliated and contribute to Social Security.

If you’re Canadian and in the process of obtaining a visa for Spain, you should be aware that for most types of visas, you will be required to have private health insurance.

However, if you already live in Spain and are a tax resident, you have the option to access the healthcare system at no cost as long as you are employed, either self-employed or as an employee, and regularly contribute to Social Security.

4. Driving License

If you’re a Canadian citizen and decide to establish residency in Spain, becoming a tax resident, it’s essential to know the following regarding your driver’s license:

During the first 6 months of your stay in Spain, you can drive using your Canadian driver’s license. Alternatively, you can apply for an international driving permit, which will be valid for 1 year.

After these initial 6 months, and since there is no agreement between Canada and Spain for the exchange of licenses, you will need to obtain a Spanish driver’s license. To do this, you will have to pass both a theoretical and practical exam. Once obtained, you will need to renew it every 10 years until you reach the age of 65, at which point it will need to be renewed every 5 years.

5. Register your new Spanish address

Upon arriving in Spain and after acquiring or renting a property, it’s essential that, as a resident, you promptly visit the Town Hall office in your locality to register your new address. This register is known as the “padrón.” By registering on it, you will begin to access certain rights in Spain, even before obtaining full Spanish citizenship.

Spain visa for canadian permanent resident

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6. Utilities in Spain 

After acquiring or renting a home, the next step is to arrange for essential utilities such as electricity, water, gas, internet, and phone services. If the property doesn’t have these services, you will need to have them activated; otherwise, you can simply change the account holder.

Typically, basic utilities like electricity and water are billed bimonthly, and it’s advisable to set up direct debits for these payments with your bank. As for other services like gas, phone, and internet, they are usually billed on a monthly basis.

7. Set up a bank account

If you decide to establish yourself in Spain, it’s essential to open a local bank account. This account will be necessary for various procedures, such as buying property, paying for health insurance, gym memberships, and more.

To initiate this process, you should have your Foreigner Identification Number (NIE) at hand. While the required documentation may vary from one bank to another, you will generally be asked for your NIE, passport, proof of income, and a statement regarding whether you will be a resident in Spain or not. Depending on your residency status, the account opening process may be more or less complex.

We understand that opening an account in Spain can be a bureaucratic and sometimes tedious process. At Tejada Solicitors, we are here to assist you and make this procedure more straightforward for you.

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Buying property in Spain as a Canadian

Our specialized attorneys in property transactions will guide you from the outset, ensuring that every detail and nuance of the process is addressed. We will manage all the necessary documentation, always with the aim of protecting your interests optimally. Once everything is in order, we will proceed to the contract signing, advancing towards the completion of the acquisition.

Furthermore, our tax advisor will provide guidance on relevant tax considerations, both before and after the completion of the purchase. Additionally, to assist you in making the best decision, we offer a detailed study of the tax implications as tax residents in Spain.

Renting property in Spain as a Canadian

One of the primary motivations for Canadian residents to purchase properties in Spain is the enticing possibility of generating additional income by renting them out for tourism. If you are considering this option, our tax advisor can thoroughly analyze your real estate investment and provide guidance on the tax implications to consider before formalizing the purchase.

In the event that you choose to allocate your property for tourist rental, it is essential to register it with the Tourism Registry of Andalusia. Our team at Tejada Solicitors is well-prepared to provide you with all the necessary information and assistance in this process. It is crucial to emphasize that failing to register your property in this registry can result in significant penalties.

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Which are the best places to move from Canada to Spain

Spain, with its stunning beaches, exquisite cuisine, iconic architecture, and unmatched hospitality, has established itself as the preferred destination for many Canadians seeking a new home.

Here, we present some Spanish gems that will undoubtedly capture your interest if you come from Canada:

Madrid: Not only is it the vibrant economic and business hub of Spain, but it’s also a center of historical and cultural wealth. It’s the perfect place for those with entrepreneurial ambitions.

Barcelona: This city, famous for its impressive architecture and landscapes, will seduce you with its distinctive way of life. Living here means immersing yourself in a blend of tradition and modernity.

Alicante: A true paradise on Earth. Its sunny beaches and the warmth of its inhabitants make this city an irresistible place to settle down.

Málaga: A genuine jewel of the coast, it’s the Silicon Valley of southern Europe, well-connected with the world, offering a variety of beaches and upscale restaurants. Its friendly people and unbeatable climate make Málaga a place where you’d simply love to live.

Interesting read: How to move to Malaga

Spain entry requirements

How much is the cost of living in Spain?

Both Canada and Spain offer stunning landscapes, friendly citizens, and top-notch medical services. However, many Canadians are drawn to life in Spain due to its milder climate, lower cost of living, and an abundance of healthy food options.

In terms of expenses, living in Spain is approximately 59% more affordable than in Canada. The most notable price differences can be observed in aspects such as housing, food, alcoholic beverages, and childcare. In contrast, expenses like gym memberships and electricity bills maintain a relative parity in both countries.

Can I live in Spain for 6 months of the year?

There are several options for living in Spain for six months a year, among which the following stand out:

Schengen Visa: With this visa, you cannot stay continuously for 6 months, but you can accumulate a total of 6 months throughout the year. Known as a tourist visa, it allows you to be in Spain or any other European country for a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period. For example, you could split your stay into two periods of 3 months each year, coming to Spain in spring and autumn, thus avoiding the extremes of cold and heat and taking advantage of the best warmth of our climate.

Retirement Visa or Non-Lucrative Visa: This option allows you to apply for temporary residence and is renewable every 1 or 2 years, with the condition of residing in Spain for at least 180 days each year. After 5 years, you can apply for long-term or permanent residency, provided you have not been outside of Spain for more than 10 months in total during the first 5 years.

Need a professional consultation to prepare for your move to Spain from Canada?

Tax, immigration, and real estate matters in Spain can be challenging for foreign individuals without the right guidance. At Tejada Solicitors, we approach your case from a 360-degree perspective. Our immigration specialist, tax lawyer, and property conveyancing expert will jointly study and analyze your case. We are here to streamline this process, reduce stress, and ensure your move to Spain is a success. Trust in the confidence and support of our team of specialized lawyers with extensive experience in these procedures.

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