Legalities and Work

We are often asked, ‘Was it easy to move to the Canaries?’ Well, assuming we are not talking about the physical process but rather the paperwork, then as an EU citizen, yes, but there still legalities or formalities depending on your particular situation.
If you are planning to work as self-employed, it’s as well to seek expert advice. Even so, for those who plan to find employment or even retire on a pension, it is well worth looking into the facts.
So let’s have a look at some frequently asked questions.

  • Do I have to register to live in the Canaries? Yes, if you are staying for more than three months. This is done at the Policía Nacional (National Police station).
  • Do I need to be resident in the Canaries before I can buy a property? No but you will need to have a NIE number (Numero de Identificación de Extranjeros, foreigner’s identity number) before you can buy either a property or a car.
  • How do I get a NIE number? Basically, you will need to prove that either a) you are paying into the Social Security system either by presenting your contract of employment in the Canary Islands or prove that you are self-employed and making social security contributions here or that b) you can support yourself financially (have more than 5,200€ in the bank) and have private health insurance. In the case of receiving an EU pension, document S1 and your European Health Card must be presented plus proof you can support yourself financially. In all cases, a valid passport is also required. These documents (originals) and copies plus passport sized photo are taken to Policia Nactional. If wished, you can employ someone to help you with this process.
  • Can I still receive my pension if I move to the Canary Islands? If you are coming from the UK and other EU member countries, yes. For more information, check out the UK Government site on pensions.
  • Can I get unemployment benefit while I look for a job? Only if you have already been employed in the Canary Islands and your employer has been paying your Social Security. Otherwise, no.
  • Will I get free health cover if I come to live in the Canaries?  If you become resident in the Canaries, to be eligible for free health cover you will either need to be paying Social Security contributions as an employed or self-employed person or be in receipt of a UK state pension. When neither of these is the case, private health insurance is readily available.
  • Can I work in the Canary Islands and pay my tax in my home country? Only if you live in the Canary Islands for less than 6 months of the year. If you live in the Canaries for more than 6 months of the year you are deemed to be fiscally resident here and this is where you pay your taxes, whether you are self-employed or your business is in the another country.
  • Is there much work available? I won’t say it’s easy to find employment at the moment because of the recession but it certainly helps if you speak Spanish. However, English speakers are often in demand when it comes to teaching English as a foreign language. But there are always opportunities for the entrepreneur and those working via the internet.
  • What is the cost of living like in the Canaries? Generally speaking it is much lower than in northern Europe, or certainly the UK, although that depends where exactly you’re coming from and where exactly you are going to. For example, if you move to a very touristic area you will find the price to rent an apartment is high. But other than that, heating bills are either non-existent or very low. Only certain areas warrant air-conditioning in the summer – the Canaries are a temperate climate and temperatures hardly ever reach the high thirties. Council tax is incredibly low, car tax is low and fuel is low-er. But you might find certain things more expensive such as your favourite foods in shops – but even those are coming down in price as more local people are starting to buy them.

* This is intended to be a rough guide and any information given may change without notice – please seek professional advice.

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