What to know before your move from Canada to Spain

7 Things to know and do before moving from Canada to Spain

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Well known for its picturesque beaches, good food, architecture, and welcoming people, Spain has become a favorite destination for Canadians looking to move out of the country. Before you get to enjoy the perks of living in Spain, there are several things that you must prepare. 

If you are looking to move from Canada to Spain, this article will provide you with an essential checklist of everything you need to know about moving to Spain!

Moving from Canada to Spain: Everything to know and do

What to know before your move from Canada to Spain

1. First steps before moving to Spain

Visa Requirements

The first step in planning a move to Spain is to acquire a visa that best fits your situation. Visas are issued by the Consulates General of Spain in Canada. If you are a Canadian citizen of a non-European Union country, you have to obtain a visa from the Spanish consulate in Canada if you want to work, stay or study in Spain for more than 90 days. You will not be able to submit your application for your visa if you have not received your Letter of Acceptance or Carta de Nobramiento from the Consulate. 

It is important to note that you cannot apply for a visa once you are in Spain, this must take place in Canada. Also, it is strongly recommended to not buy your plane ticket to Spain, until you have received your visa and it is in your possession. 

You will only obtain your visa to move to Spain if your reason is valid (work, school, other reason approved by consulate) and if you have the following documentation ready:

  • A valid passport
  • Photos
  • A medical certificate
  • A police clearance certificate (a background check)

Taking care of your visa requirements is a crucial step before making any move from Canada to Spain. 

Finding a job

Spain is known to have a high unemployment rate due to their dual labor market, where employees are hired on fixed-terms and contracts. According to Indeed, it is strongly recommended to know the official language of Spain, as this will increase your chances of getting a job. Being fluent in English is helpful but being able to speak Spanish would be the ideal. 

Spain has a high demand in many sectors including crane operators, civil engineers, truck drivers, hospital nursing assistants, to name a few. 

When finding a job in Spain, you can use employment vacancies and internet job postings like Infojobs and Trabajos

Indeed (Feb 2023)

Getting there 

You may make an informed decision on how to move to Spain from Canada by looking into these options for transportation. 

Flying is the most convenient way to move to Spain. You can book your flight to get there, for example through its major airport, Adolfo Súarez Madrid-Barajas Airport. Be sure to arrive in Spain two or three days before your move in date so you have time to take care of last-minute tasks. 

International Moving Company

You can easily move your things from Canada to Spain by plane or boat, but make sure the moving company you decide on is reliable. So when opting for an international moving company, here’s what you should look for:

  • Insurance is included (ask what’s included)
  • Rates are not extravagant (compare with other companies)
  • They have many Google reviews that are over 4 stars.
  • Customer service and transparency is their priority.

Must dos before your arrival 

You may find it exciting and challenging to move to Spain. You will be more prepared for your new life if you are aware of these things beforehand.

  • Find an international moving company. You can find a number of international moving companies that can move your belongings from Canada to Spain. 
  • If you have a car you would like to bring to Spain, make sure to do what is necessary for car shipping as well as auto insurance. It might be best to sell your Canadian car and purchase a new one in Spain as it is best to travel light! 
  • Apartment Hunting: Plan ahead by researching and scheduling apartment visits before your arrival. This proactive approach will help streamline your housing search process and ensure a smoother transition.
  • It is strongly recommended to learn Spanish, the official language of Spain, before your arrival as English is not common in Spain.

Car Shipping to Spain 

Unless they have significant emotional attachment to their car, most Canadians choose to leave their cars behind when moving to Spain due to the elevated shipping and import fees and the long vehicle inspection process. If you must absolutely ship your car to Spain, here are the steps to follow:

  • Get various quotes from the best car shipping companies. A trusted car shipping company will have insurance, good reviews, and will make customer service their priority.
  • Choose the port of departure.
  • Choose the port destination.
  • Prepare the car by cleaning it and emptying the tank to ⅛ full or you may have to pay a fee upon arrival.

*Ask your chosen car shipping company for additional requirements.

2. Upon your arrival in Spain

Must dos right upon your arrival

  • Get familiar with your neighborhood, and make sure to take note of the important emergency numbers.
  • Locate the essential facilities like the nearest hospital, police station, and fire department for your safety and in case of emergency.
  • It is important to apply for your Foreigner’s Identity Card/number at your local police station. 

Get your Foreigner’s Identity Card (TIE/NIE)

Within 30 days of your arrival in Spain, you will have to apply for a Foreigner’s Identity Card/number at your local foreigners office or at the police station. This number is a must to complete all administrative tasks such as getting a bank account, getting paid, paying taxes, buying a property, and obtaining a driver’s license.


One of the first things you need to consider upon your arrival in Spain is to know your healthcare options. Spain has one of the top free healthcare systems in Europe. However, it does not include coverage for dentists, ambulances, and medication. The healthcare system in Spain is known as the SNS or Sistema Nacional de Salud

As a Canadian living in Spain, you can access the healthcare system for free if you meet the necessary requirements:

  • An employed or self-employed person who pays social security contributions.
  • A person living in Spain and receiving certain state benefits.
  • Student under the age of 26 and studying in Spain.
  • Staying temporarily in Spain and have an EHIC card

Click here to verify if you are eligible for Spanish healthcare benefits as a Canadian. If you do not speak Spanish make sure you translate the page by right clicking your mouse and clicking ‘Translate to English’.

Setting up your cell phone

Cell phone plans in Spain work differently than in Canada. In Spain cell phone minutes and data are provided through sim cards. Make sure your Canadian phone is unlocked prior to arriving in Spain so you can simply insert a Spanish sim card and immediately start using your phone from there. Sim card features include data, calls, and texting. 8GB of data with unlimited calls and texting, will cost you around $50 CAD per month. The main Spanish cell phone networks are Orange, Movistar, Vodafone and Yoigo. 

The Internet in Spain in terms of pricing is like Canada, but the quality is considerably average. You should expect to pay $55-65 CAD a month for the internet in Spain along with an additional installation and equipment fee. The main internet providers in Spain are Movistar, Jazztel, Orange, Vodafone, MÁSMOVÍL, Ono and Iberbanda. 

Getting a driver’s license

As a Canadian, you must apply for a Spanish driver’s license within 6 months of settling down in Spain. Prior to those 6 months, you can drive with your Canadian driver’s license. 

After 6 months, you must sign up at a driving school where you will undergo a written and practical test. You will only have to renew your license once every 10 years until you turn 65 and every 5 years thereafter. 

Car insurance in Spain

Car insurance is mandatory in Spain. The minimum car insurance coverage in Spain is third party liability coverage. Here are some of the top car insurance companies in Spain: Mapfre, Allianz, Grupo Mutua Madrileña, Axa Seguros and Línea Directa. 

Setting up a bank account 

Opening a bank account in Spain is essential, but is not considered to be easy due to the country’s history with money laundering and fraud. The most popular banks in Spain are BBVA, Banco Santander, CaixaBank, Banco Sabadell, Bankia, to name a few. 

While the required documentation depends heavily on each bank, you generally need two things: An I.D. number, and proof of your identity and address—a government-issued photo ID will suffice. 

3. Best places to live in Spain

Best places to live in Spain

Moving to Spain means deciding where you want to live and considering your priorities. We’ve listed the best places to live in Spain!




Capital of Spain


Blend of city and urban lifestyle


Perfect for beach lovers


Best for a foodlovers 

Setting up home services 

Electricity is awfully expensive in Spain compared to other European countries. On average electricity in Spain costs $0.29 CAD per kWh compared to Canada’s average cost of $0.19 CAD per kWh. The most popular electricity companies in Spain are Endesa, Iberdrola, Naturgy, EDP (HC Energía) and E.Ontire. 

Water shortage is a perennial problem in the country. You should expect the supplier to control the flow during certain times of the year. Tap water is safe for consumption. 

Gas is available in major Spanish cities. Utilities in Spain are billed every two months. The most advisable way to make payments is by direct debit from your bank account.

Should you rent or buy?

As of June 2023, the median cost of buying a property in Spain is €383,517; as of October 2023, the median rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center is €752.06.

Trusted websites such as Idealista.com and Fotocasa are often used to find available apartment listings and property or engage with real estate agents for assistance.

Numbeo (Sept 2023)

4. Cost of living in Spain


Monthly cost 

1 bed apt rent outside city center



Numbeo’s grocery list



Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage


Internet with 60 Mbps


Transit pass



Meal, taxi, movie


Gym membership 




*prices in Euros 

Numbeo (Sept 2023)

5. The weather in Spain

The weather in Spain varies across the country as some cities reach warmer climates than others. In general, Spain experiences a Mediterranean climate along its coasts with hot and dry summers.

 If you are moving to Madrid, you should expect temperatures between 0°C and 33°C year round as it never gets in the negatives, like in Canada. The Canary Islands offer a subtropical climate, making them a popular year-round destination!

6. What to do as a local in Spain

Residents of Spain take pleasure in spending their weekends either watching or playing soccer. The most popular teams in Spain are Real Madrid and Barcelona, so be sure to catch a game to embrace the Spanish culture. 

Spain is also known for its wild nightlife. Don’t forget to take time for yourself over the weekend and go for a drink with friends. One of the most popular pubs in Spain is Opium Mar in Barcelona.

If you truly would like to become a local, be sure to explore local farmer’s markets and antique markets filled with unique products for your new home! 

7. Fun facts about Spain

  • Fun Fact #1: Spain hosts the famous La Tomatina festival, a massive tomato fight amongst the townspeople.
  • Fun Fact #2: Spain is home to the oldest restaurant in the world called Sobrino de Botín in Madrid.
  • Fun Fact #3: Spain is known for its unique architecture, more specifically produced by Antoni Gaudí, who is a Catalan architect! 


In your new life in Spain, you should expect a lot of joy, beauty, and a laid-back lifestyle. The Spanish lifestyle is very laid back compared to the Canadian lifestyle, so you can already start de-stressing! Start learning Spanish if you haven’t learned it already as it will help you interact more with the locals and build many friendships!

Are you planning to move soon? Check out 7 Things to Know and do Before Moving to Canada to Portugal.


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Ann Nacario

The author

Meet Ann – our head writer with a knack for making moving and city living a breeze. From the many details of moving to picking the perfect moving company, she’s your guide. Ann has a friendly yet detailed approach to ensure your move goes off without a hitch. When she’s not writing about relocation, it will always be on her mind, but you’ll catch her spending time with her three furry friends.

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