Monday, November 8, 2010

Moving to Spain for work from the US or Canada

If you are planning on moving to Spain for work, and you can’t dig up (figuratively speaking that is) some European ancestor that you can claim EU citizenship through, here’s a couple tips:

  • Reexamine your family tree. Perhaps you were lucky enough to have an Italian ancestor. Italy is notoriously lax about their requirements of getting an Italian passport due to blood relations. People don’t normally move to Spain from non-EU, non-Hispanic countries, so you will be the weird exception.
  • Are you really sure you can’t get a European passport?
  • Get all the paperwork done at the consulate in your home country before you start packing. I know everyone gets excited to move to Spain, but the problem is, the process is designed to work for people who are not yet in Spain. You will find yourself living as a tourist for months and flying back to North America multiple times due to various missing pieces of paperwork if you jump the gun.
  • If you are moving from Canada, remember that Canada is not in the Hague Convention. This means that the only way to get a document such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate recognized by Spain is by having the Spanish consulate in Canada do the certification. This will require you to go in person and may take months.
  • You will have to get a criminal records check in your home country. This can take time. Make sure that you confirm with the Spanish consulate exactly what kind of report they need.
  • Expect multiple trips to the Spanish consulate. Once in a (long) while you luck out and they are super efficient, other times it can take months to get an answer out of them.
  • If you have you kids, you can get away with not having a visa for them. We never bothered to get any kind of permits for our kids for the first two years we were here. The visa is actually not really good for anything other than not getting hassled with you enter or leave (sometimes they check for a stamp on exit) the country.
  • If your company is moving you, get them to get you a real lawyer with experience moving people from North America. If you work for a multinational, expect the HR department in Spain to be totally incompetent. Don’t expect them to complete any paperwork on time or give you any kind of useful or correct advise.
  • Many companies will not ship your container until your visa is approved. This means that if you pack your stuff before you get your visa, it could be sitting on the dock for months until your paperwork is done.
  • Think about not selling your car if you have a nice one and some extra container space. Cars are expensive here due to high taxes and if you are willing to make the required tail-light modifications you could save a lot of money.
  • Get the Spanish consulate in you home country to make you a “Libro de Familia”, together with Spanish version of your marriage certificate and birth certificates. You will need these later.

The bottom line is: stay in your home country until you have all the paperwork done at the consulate.

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