Basic formalities for long stays in Madrid

Trámites básicos para estancias largas en Madrid

If you are going to spend some time living in Madrid, you must carry out a series of legal procedures. In addition to avoiding problems with the law, it is necessary to make use of some public services.

These are some of these procedures:

1) “Empadronamiento”

The “empadronamiento” is not the inscription in the registry of the City Council. This document certifies that you live at a certain address. Once we do so, you are entitled to enjoy many municipal services such as swimming pools, libraries, etc.

Any person residing in Madrid is required to do it. Both Spaniards and foreigners can be registered, regardless of whether or not they have regularized their immigration status.

The procedure can be carried out through the Internet or in person and you will need:

  • 1) A registration form (“Hoja de Empadronamiento”) provided by the City Council, which will contain your details, including the place where you are going to live.
  • 2) A document that proves you live where you say you do and that you have the right to use the home. Most often this is a deed of ownership, a sales or rental contract, or a water, electricity, gas, or Internet bill issued in your name.
  • 3) You will also need a document that proves your identity, such as an ID card, passport, or an equivalent document.

Important: if other people are registered at your address, they must all be included in your registration application, so that they do not lose their registration.

More information at

2) Health care Card (“Tarjeta Sanitaria)”

The health care card is a document that certifies that you are entitled to the benefits of the Spanish public health system.

It can be requested by existing social security members (self-employed, pensioners, if you receive any benefits or if you are appointed as a job seeker). If the following conditions are not met, minors under 18 years of age, pregnant women, refugees legally residing in the country, among others, may apply.

For European citizens from other countries, it is advisable to apply for the European Health Insurance Card before coming to Spain. This card entitles them to benefit from the Spanish public health system without having to apply for the Spanish health card.

Many countries have health agreements with Spain. When applying for a health document in your home country, you can apply for a Spanish health card when you arrive in Madrid.

For citizens of countries that do not have public health agreements with Spain, it is recommended that they purchase private travel insurance in their country of origin.

The health card is requested at the primary health care centers that correspond to the place where you are registered. If you have any questions, you can always ask for information by calling 012 or by visiting the website

These are the documents you will have to provide:

  • ID Card, passport, or any other document that proves your identity.
  • “Empadronamiento” (check point 1).
  • Social Security affiliation document, or a certificate stating that you are not affiliated.
  • A document certifying the health agreement with Spain issued in your home country.
  • Card application form.

3) Driver’s license

European citizens can drive in Spain normally with the driving licenses of their home countries.

For countries outside the European Union, if you have an international driving license issued in your home country (according to international conventions and treaties), you can drive in Spain for the first 6 months you live here. The document must be valid and you must be of legal age to drive in Spain (18 years or older). After that, you will have to request the change of your original license for a Spanish one at the Dirección General de Tráfico (DGT).

Tourists with a valid driving license can also drive in Spain, but only for 3 months, in case they do not have an international driving license.

More information at

4) Banks

If you are going to be in Madrid for a short stay, it is not necessary to open a Spanish bank account. You will be able to withdraw cash from thousands of ATMs all over the country with your country’s bank card.

However, for longer stays or if you plan to continue living in Spain at the end of your Spanish course, it is highly recommended that you open a Spanish bank account. First of all, because of the costs. The banks in your country and the local ones can charge you high commissions for all the transactions you make with credit cards or for international transfers. Secondly, because of the convenience. With a Spanish bank account, you will be able to direct debit many payments such as supplies (electricity, gas, etc), taxes, and others.

Things to consider when opening a bank account in Spain

  • Compare the conditions that each bank will offer you. Some offer accounts without commissions, but sometimes with hidden costs, find out more about this. Often the commissions depend on other services you have with the bank, for example, if you have a salary or bills charged on your account. Some banks even offer interest-bearing accounts, which pay you a fee for deposits for some time.
  • All Spanish banks have Internet platforms where you can make almost all the arrangements you need. However, eventually, you will have to go to your bank agency to sign documents or make certain payments. So, it is advisable to choose an agency that is close to your residence or in a well-communicated area.
  • Due to new European regulations, you will need a cell phone to perform some online banking transactions. Some banks require you to have a smartphone on which to download a bank application.
  • Read the account agreement carefully and seek guidance from your bank manager or friends if there is anything you do not understand. Especially concerning commissions and overdraft costs.
  • Most bank employees do not speak English. If you need an account in Spain you will probably already speak Spanish perfectly. If this is not the case, you should go to the bank office with a translator.

Documents required to open a bank account

  • ID Card, passport, or any other document that proves our identity.
  • “Empadronamiento” (check point 1).
  • Employment contract, in case you have one.
  • Spanish banks do not usually require a minimum deposit, but they may ask you for proof that you have the financial means to open an account, in case you do not have an employment contract.
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