Emigrating to Spain: what you need to know

With great food, a wonderful culture and of course, fantastic weather, Spain is understandably among the most popular destinations for British expats.

Whether you’re emigrating for work, retirement or simply a change of scenery, there are a few things to arrange before you make the move:

Paperwork and finances

If you have an EU passport there’s no need to apply for a visa, but you will need a “Número de Identidad de Extranjero” (‘NIE’) identity card within three months of your arrival. You also need to apply for a “Tarjeta de Residencia” (residency card) and to set up a Spanish bank account and be able to prove how much money you have in your bank account in Britain. When you come to transfer your assets, Pickfords’ foreign exchange service can help you move your money safely and securely.

You can still receive your British state pension while living in Spain, as long as you inform the UK’s Department of Work and Pensions of your move.

Another essential is the S1 form, which is vital if you need medical treatment in Spain. If you have this, you will be treated just the same as a Spanish resident, so long as you register your presence at the local town hall on the “Padró Municipal d’Habitants” register.

Pet travel

If you are thinking of taking your pet with you, he or she will need a European Pet Passport to travel freely across European borders within. The Pet Travel Scheme allows for appropriately vaccinated pets to travel without being placed in quarantine. Talk with your vet to get your pet fitted with a microchip before it travels. Pickfords’ pet shipping service will arrange all the details of your pet’s relocation.

Learning the local language

It’s a good idea to learn the language of the area you’re moving to. Only 27% of the Spanish population speak English, so even a basic understanding of the local tongue will be incredibly helpful when communicating with local residents. Spanish is of course the official national language, spoke by around 99% of Spaniards as either a first or second language; but other languages, such as Catalan and Galician, are co-official and spoken as a first language in many regions of Spain.

Before you emigrate, you could join a Spanish class in your local adult education centre or community college to gain a basic knowledge and help you communicate effectively in-country.

Understanding the culture

As with any new country, there are a number of cultural differences you’ll likely experience when emigrating to Spain. For example, meal times: Spaniards’ main meal is typically lunch, eaten around 2 – 3pm; dinner is generally between 9 and 10pm. Spanish culture is also incredibly relaxed; people take time over their meals, and children are generally given a greater degree of freedom than in the UK. Doing some research on the local culture before you relocate will help you integrate into your local community after you arrive.

Transporting your goods

When it comes to moving your effects to Spain, choosing an experienced removal company with the international expertise is vital to ensure your goods arrive on time, safely and securely. Pickfords transports customers’ belongings to Spain every week, more than any other BAR member, and with partner offices in Madrid and Barcelona, we can transport your goods to any Spanish destination. Click here to find out more about transporting your goods to Spain with Pickfords.

Pickfords finds furry stowaway

Pickfords discovered a cat in a container earlier this year.

The feline, believed to have been a street cat, had found its way into a shipping container in Limassol, Cyprus, and spent a month on the water on its way to the UK.

A brown and white tabby was discovered in a shipping container from Limassol

A brown and white tabby was discovered in a shipping container from Limassol. Image: Hisashi

The container was carried by the ‘Rio Cadiz’ shipping vessel. The ship and her stowaway travelled from Limassol to Haifa in Israel, then onto Antwerpen in Belgium, then Bremerhaven in Germany before stopping off at Rotterdam and finally arriving in Felixstowe a month after departure.

The container was unloaded and trucked to Pickfords’ international warehouse in Kempston, Bedfordshire. On opening the container to unload its customers’ goods, the Pickfords warehouse team discovered the tabby.

The cat was not in the best of health when the container was opened, so Pickfords gave her food and water to keep her going. The team called the local Bedford Trading Standards organisation who sent a team to catch the cat, who was then taken into quarantine.

The cat was not charged boarding fees for her trip(!)

Looking for a great first step in your career?

Pickfords’ apprentice scheme is a fantastic opportunity to gain valuable customer service and sales experience in removals and storage, one of the UK’s longest established industries.

Latest apprenticeship vacancies:

  • Sales
  • Customer service
  • Operations

To kick start your career, contact Avanta recruitment on 0800 681 6628 (option 2) or email getnewskills@avanta.uk.com.

A simpler time: Pickfords in the 1930s

With a near-400 year history, Pickfords is fondly remembered by our customers throughout the decades. One customer recently contacted us to share a happy memory of Pickfords’ advertising in the 1930s, when Britain was enduring the Great Depression and on the brink of the Second World War:

A note from you

A call from us

The date is fixed

No worry or fuss

A Pickfords van

A gentle giant

The work is done

A satisfied client


A letter from a customer shared her fond memory of Pickfords advertising in the 1930s.

Pickfords’ powerboat in the press for round 1

The Pickfords Powerboat was recently driven into 3rd place by husband and wife team David & Kirsty Toozs-Hobson in round 1 of the 2015 P1 SuperStock Championship at Scarborough. Local press has since been buzzing with excitement at the eventful race weekend, in anticipation of the next stage in Gosport on 11 July:

Pickfords racers Kirsty  David Kootz-Hobson with Tim Wilkins, CEO of event sponsors Dale Power Solutions

Pickfords racers Kirsty David Kootz-Hobson with Tim Wilkins, CEO of event sponsors Dale Power Solutions

“P1 SuperStock makes a splash in Scarborough”
The Scarborough News, 04/06/15

“P1’s first ever visit to Scarborough attracted a big crowd to the picturesque South Bay as the fleet of 11 boats engaged battle in the Yorkshire sunshine.”

“Williams and Robinson get off to a flying start at P1 Scarborough Grand Prix of the Sea 2015″
Royal Yachting Association, 01/06/15

“Crowds wowed by Grand Prix of the sea”
The Scarborough News, 01/06/15

“The atmosphere was fantastic. The crowds on Saturday were amazing with the seafront and piers full of spectators.”

“Williams & Robinson get off to a flying start”
Powerboat P1 SuperStock, 01/06/15

“We talk to Robert Wicks about the opening day of the new season”
Powerboat P1, 30/05/15

Blog series – Pickfords Powerboat 2015:

How decluttering can help you sell your home

Sofa Set

If you’re looking to sell your property, you’ll want to do everything in your power to increase the chances of finding a buyer. One significant way to maximise interest in your home is by ridding it of clutter: all that unsorted paperwork, children’s toys, clothes and shoes you no longer wear, old CDs, DVDs and books; anything that might be a distraction to potential buyers at the viewing stage.

So how can declutting help you sell your home?

 1. Potential buyers will picture themselves living there

One thing that can throw people off when looking round a property struggling to visualise themselves living in it. You may have spent years accumulating all manner of knick knacks and possessions that make your house feel like a home, but if the abundance of ‘stuff’ prevents viewers from picturing themselves in the space, this may harm a potential sale. On the other hand, a tidy home with visible floors surfaces will help prospective buyers to see themselves living there.

2. It helps showcase the property’s best features

Decluttering allows your property’s best features to shine through; freeing your viewing space of clutter will help potential buyers to notice elements of your home that might be a tipping point in the buyer’s decision-making process.

At the same time, it stops buyers from wondering if there are any serious issues hiding beneath the clutter, or thinking that the home doesn’t have adequate storage space, which can be high on their list of priorities.

3. It demonstrates the potential of each room

After accumulating more and more belongings over the years, your may find your storage space has started to run out, and that certain rooms in your house have become inadvertent storage rooms, such as that study you no longer use, or a child’s bedroom after they have left home.

Removing the clutter from these rooms allows prospective buyers to see them used for their original purpose, and gets them thinking how they might utilise them if they purchased the property.

Pickfords: helping you declutter

If you’re looking to sell your home but have a problem with clutter, Pickfords can help. As part of our declutter storage service, we arrange for a removal team to visit your home and help you to pack unwanted items before delivering them to one of our storage facilities. Once you have moved to your new home, our team will safely transport your belongings back to you.

If you are looking to remove clutter more permanently, Pickfords also provide a clothes collection service in partnership with Clothes Aid, raising money for the NSPCC by collecting your unwanted clothes and shoes to be recycled.

Pickfords’ wrap puts planet first

Did you know Pickfords’ wrapping material is 100% recyclable?

Pickfords uses Planet Wrap, a unique blanket wrap that replaced other materials which featured plastic elements that could not be recycled. Planet Wrap is made from sustainable materials without compromising on quality, and is 100% recyclable.

Interior. Empty room

Plane wrap is made from 57% recycled paper and both creation and disposal produce limited carbon emissions by both being produced and recycled exclusively in UK mills.

Pickfords uses over 12,000 rolls of blanket wrap to move our customers’ belongings every year, which equates to 567 miles of wrap, enough to line the roads from Glasgow to Lands End!

The use of a sustainable blanket wrap is part of Pickfords’ commitment to environmental leadership, conducting our business in a way that benefits the environment.