As wonderful and exhilarating as it is landing in Barcelona, if you’re planning on setting up shop here (be that literally or metaphorically) then you’re going to have to face a few bureaucratic hurdles before you can get settled as a legal, employable, tax-paying resident. Hopefully, with this guide, you can avoid the frustrating trial and error procedure which I and many others had to go through having just landed and on the job search in Barcelona.
Sure, getting your papers is certainly easier if you’re an EU citizen. However, it’s still no piece of the proverbial cake and don’t fall under the tempting illusion that you can just breeze into a job with little more than your passport. So with that in mind, I’ll try and break down the process as clearly as possible.
First thing is first, get your NIE! The NIE is an identification number for foreigners and is an essential requirement for any person to be able to work legally in Spain. The NIE is needed for a number of other crucial reasons, including paying taxes, opening a bank account, being paid for employment, using short-term employment agencies, starting a business, registering with social services and arranging receipt of social security benefits.
How and where to get your NIE
The process and location seem to have changed several times over the years and there is some outdated information floating around. Here is the most up to date information:
First, you need to make an appointment at the Oficina de Extranjeros. Click on ‘Barcelona’ then ‘Certificados EU’ from the drop-down menus. Bear in mind that you may need to wait several weeks for your appointment.
The Oficina de Extranjeros is situated on C/Rambla de Guipúscoa 74, in the Sant Marti district and just a few metres from the metro (L1 – Sant Marti).
You will need: your passport and two photocopies of it, plus the required documentation according to your status in Spain (student, employed etc).
All EU citizens can get a NIE that lasts for three months with just their passport. For a NIE that lasts for longer than three months, you will need additional proof depending on your situation. For instance, if you have come to work you will need to take along evidence that you have employment here. Otherwise, you will need evidence of being enrolled as a student and/or having sufficient financial resources to look after yourself. See the website for a list of documents you will need.
Related article: Common mistakes foreigners make when trying to get a NIE
For this reason, I don’t advise putting off job searching until you have the NIE. Instead, start job hunting early on and at the same time make your NIE appointment. That way, hopefully, when it comes to your appointment, you will have been offered a job contract, which you can take along to your appointment to apply for a permanent NIE.
Once all forms have been filled out correctly, you will then be given a payslip which you will have to take to a bank to pay the associated taxes, which is around 10.60euros. As a word of advice, some banks may turn you away, as was my experience, on the basis that you don’t hold a bank account with them (even though you need a NIE to open a bank account in the first place!). If this happens to you, I suggest simply popping into different branches and you’ll soon find one that happily takes your money and stamps your slip!
With your stamped slip, you’ll then need to go back to the office in order to complete the process and get your NIE number. However, you will have to return again in around a week to pick up the official document, in the form of a small card which can be easily carried around in your purse or wallet. Just be careful not to lose it as that will mean paying a fee for a replacement!
The process is generally more complicated and longer for non-EU citizens and it is advised to speak to the Spanish embassy in your home country for more information. To the NIE appointment, you will be required to take the declaración de entrada, or any other document which proves your legal entry into the country
Getting a job in Barcelona
Given the current economic situation and the high level of immigration, finding a decent job in Barcelona isn’t necessarily easy. But it really depends on what you’re after and what skills and experience you are bringing with you. Having a good level of Spanish and/or Catalan will certainly widen the possibilities. If your language skills are lacking, one obvious option is to teach English, and there is certainly no shortage of people and places looking for English teachers in Barcelona. There are several TEFL courses running every month in Barcelona, from where you can not only get TEFL certified, but also meet other people and get support in finding work. Being a native English teacher is a big advantage in getting TEFL work.
Another option is to find work in a call centre, with many companies looking specifically for English and/or other European language speakers. This could, at least, be a good option to get some steady hours and pay while you work on your Spanish.
Other jobs such as au pair, bartender and shop worker, and flyering are reasonably easy to find in Barcelona. Finding more specialist or career-oriented jobs, however, can prove more challenging to find. But they do exist and its a case of being persistent and proactive in your search.
Online searches for jobs in Spain
Recruitment agencies in Barcelona
If you’d prefer someone else to do the searching for you, you could sign up to a recruitment agency, of which there are several located in Barcelona.
Go directly to the company
If you have a company in mind, don’t be shy in contacting them directly, be it by email telephone or going in directly to speak to them and/or hand in your CV.
Remember in Spain the direct approach is generally not frowned upon!
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