Spain “New Normal”: Activities, Rules, Questions & Answers

In short: A social distancing of 1.5 meters needs to be kept in outdoor and indoor spaces and face masks will remain mandatory when it is not possible to maintain this distance. If you don’t comply with the “new normal” rules in Spain, you can get a 100 euro fine.

Here we answer some of the most frequently asked questions

– How long will the Spain New Normal phase rules apply?

Until the Coronavirus crisis is over or an effective vaccine against COVID-19 is available, so we need to be patient.

– Is there freedom of movement during Spain New Normal phase?

There are no specific measures to restrict general mobility. Thus, on June 21, the sixth and last extension of the Spanish “State of Alarm””or official Coronavirus lockdown has ended, removing any restriction on movement between regions. 

– How is public transport like in Spain’s “New Normality” after COVID-19?

Any public transport operator will have to adjust the supply levels to the evolution of the demand’s recovery. Interprovincial air and land transport operators must sell their tickets with a preassigned seat number.

If you are taking a train, bus or plane to another region during the “New Normality” phase, you will get a preassigned seat and the company will keep your contact info up to a minimum of 4 weeks after the trip.

This is to ensure that, in case it is necessary, they can contact you and perform a traceability of contacts study to control any possible Coronavirus outbreak.

– Are face masks mandatory during “New Normal” phase in Spain?

Face masks must be used in means of transport, such as the subway, bus, plane or train, as well as in public or private places – closed and open – where a physical distance of 1.5 meters cannot be kept. 

Children under 6 and people with an illness or disability that prevent them from face masks use are exempt from it. In addition, masks might not be used for a force majeure reason or while practicing outdoor individual sports.

Remember: if you don’t comply with this obligation, you might get a fine of up to 100 euros! So don’t forget your face mask home and avoid a 100 euro fine!

– Are there capacity restrictions in bars, shops or entertainment in the “New Normality” Phase in Spain?

Every region has set different limits, so there might be different capacity limits in different regions of Spain during the New Normality period. For example, bars in Granada or Malaga will have the same capacity limitations, as both provinces belong to the same region (Andalusia), but their restrictions can be different from other regions’ ones, like Madrid or Catalonia.

As a general rule, most regions have set a 75% capacity limit in this kind of establishments.

Use of beaches and other open spaces

The start of the beach season will offer us a very special treat this year! With the start of Phase 2, bathing and public use of beaches is now permitted. Although common sense and self-protection measures are the key to further contain the pandemic, special security measures have been put in place.

Double access

On the urban beaches there will be double sidewalk entrances and exits, an increase in the number of health and lifeguard staff, as well as cleaning and a special police surveillance operation.

The width of the accesses to the beaches is maintained, but the litter bins are located outside, in the entrance and exit areas, in order to respect the natural state and avoid infecting the local fauna.

The use of footwear is compulsory on all access routes.

Social safety distance

On all beaches the social safety distance must be respected. The minimum distance between hammocks is 2 meters, between umbrella shafts at least 4 meters and the distance between the users and the shore 6 meters. If you go to the beach in a group, remember that the group must not be larger than 15 people.

It is forbidden to play with balls or bats, both on the sand and in the sea.

Informants on the beach

This year, the rescue and surveillance service on the beaches, which the City Council carries out in coordination with the Spanish Red Cross, has added the function of informing and monitoring users. There will be a team of 25 informants on the beach and special signs to remind users of the rules of self-protection. In addition, there will be the usual squad of local police, agents and support vehicles, which will add the function of monitoring compliance with safety standards to prevent and prosecute criminal activities during the pandemic.

Special cleaning

A cleaning team of 22 people is deployed for this task, which is reinforced by 5 additional people (up to a total of 27) in July and August for specific COVID-19 cleaning and disinfection tasks. The operation includes the presence of workers with backpacks in the task of disinfecting waste containers.

Monitoring with drones

The local police will use drones to monitor possible crowds of people who might endanger the health of beach users. The entire coastline will also be monitored and controlled by sand routes of specialized quads. The local police will punish any behaviour that violates the health measures adopted by the Spanish government, with the aim of ensuring maximum protection of the population from the coronavirus pandemic.

Health Insurance and the Healthcare System of Spain

Spain’s public healthcare system is among the best in the world and it is mostly free. Healthcare for non-residents can either be private or public, but bear in mind that expats will not have immediate access to the public system. For this reason, you should invest in a temporary travel health insurance.

This guide will provide you with an overview of the healthcare system and health insurance in Spain. We go over everything from who is eligible for public healthcare coverage, to finding a doctor, what costs to expect, and an overview on giving birth in the country.

How Healthcare Works in Spain

Apart from some small costs, like a deductible on prescriptions, the public healthcare system in Spain is free for every citizen. This is made possible because it is funded by social security payments from employed and self-employed workers. Everybody working and paying taxes in Spain is eligible for public healthcare, which covers almost everything you need. Spouses and children of the insured person also benefit from coverage. In this section, we will break down Spain’s healthcare system and explain how it works, as well as list the pros and cons.

Spain’s Public Healthcare System: Pros and Cons

Relocating to a new country requires a lot of research on the local healthcare system. It is advisable to relocate with travel insurance that can be cancelled when the local insurance comes into effect.

Pros of Public Healthcare in Spain

  • The Spanish public healthcare system is generally of high quality, with well-trained medical staff.
  • Spain has a good network of hospital and medical centers, some of which are ranked among the best in the world.
  • The public healthcare system also covers the direct family of a beneficiary, such as spouses, dependents under 26 years of age, and siblings.

Cons of Public Healthcare in Spain

  • The waiting times for surgeries, procedures, and treatment from specialist doctors are frequently cited as the main setback of public healthcare in Spain.
  • Public healthcare services do not allow you to choose your doctor or specialist.
  • You may have some difficulty finding English-speaking staff in public hospitals.

What Does Public Healthcare Cover in Spain?

When thinking of public healthcare, most people automatically think of Medicare. Public healthcare in Spain is called SNS (Servicio Nacional de la Salud) and is more inclusive than Medicare, as it is targeted at every resident. It also provides primary care services, such as family medicine, pediatrician, nursing services, midwives, and physiotherapists, as well as all matters related to prevention, diagnosis, rehabilitation, and emergency services. You will be appointed a family doctor and pediatrician in your region, who will refer you to a specialist when needed.

Does Spain Have Free or Public Healthcare?

Free healthcare is confused with public healthcare. In order to explain the costs of Spain’s healthcare system, it is necessary to differentiate both terms. Spain offers public healthcare. Basically, every person paying into the social security fund is making public healthcare available to everyone else, as well. Old people, children, unemployed workers can all access healthcare for free even if they themselves don’t pay social security. The costs of public healthcare may vary between autonomous regions as well. On average, you will find out-of-pocket payments to be around 24% of the total cost. This is higher than in most European countries.

You are also responsible for the costs of any pharmaceutical, orthotic, prosthetic, and other health products. You may pay between 10 and 60% of the full price, depending on your level of income. Medicines and pharmaceuticals can only be purchased at pharmacies, and some require prescriptions.

Public healthcare does not usually cover adult dental care, except for basic extractions. Dental prostheses and eyeglasses are also not covered by the Spanish healthcare system.

The national healthcare system issues documentation for sick leave or other medical discharge certificates that are deemed necessary.

Who is Eligible for Public Healthcare in Spain?

Spain offers its residents public healthcare, which is covered by social security contributions. To benefit from public healthcare, you will need:

  • legal residency;
  • to be registered with the Instituto Nacional de la Seguridad Social

(INSS), the National Institute of Social Security;

  • public health card, tarjeta sanitaria individual (this card must be shown every time you visit a public hospital or health center).

Family members of insured people may also benefit from public healthcare, but only if they legally reside in Spain. This includes spouses, children under 26-years-old, and siblings of the insured person.

How to Obtain the Tarjeta Sanitaria Individual?

You can get a tarjeta sanitaria individual at the local health center (Centro de Salud) that corresponds to your place of residence. You will need to contact your local Centro de Salud to know the exact procedures for applying for this card, as requirements may vary by autonomous regions. In general, make sure to bring your identifying information and any other documents that prove you are eligible for social security.

If you are living in Spain, but cannot benefit from Social Security (for example, you do not work in the country), or you are a beneficiary of an insured person, you can apply for public healthcare. To do so, you must visit your local social security office with the following documents:

  • The application form for recognition of the right to healthcare.
  • An identification document.
  • EU citizens: the certificate of registration and national ID or passport.
  • Non-EU citizens: TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjeros) and your passport.
  • If registering beneficiaries, such as spouses, children, or siblings, you will need a family record book, or civil registry that proves your relationship with the insured person.

After the INSS confirms that you qualify as an insured person or beneficiary, you can apply for a tarjeta sanitaria individual.

Costs for People Who Do Not Qualify for Public Healthcare

People who do not have medical insurance will be treated in case of an emergency, but they will be required to pay for the treatment. The costs vary depending on the type of treatment.

As mentioned above, if you do not meet the criteria for any type of public healthcare in Spain, the Spanish Social Security offers a special pay – in scheme. This allows access to the public healthcare system for a monthly fee of 60 EUR (67 USD), or 157 EUR (176 USD) for people over 65 years of age.

An Overview of Private Health Insurance in Spain

Generally, you do not need private health insurance in Spain but knowing how it works is always a good idea. If you would like to avoid the delays of public healthcare, or if you simply prefer to have private health insurance, there are many insurance types and plans to choose from.

How to Get Private Healthcare in Spain?

Anyone can get private health insurance in Spain. There are no specific requirements. Opting for it has many benefits such as allowing quicker access to specialists, the possibility of choosing English-speaking healthcare providers, and overall more comfortable hospitals and medical centers.

Private healthcare plans are especially popular among expats. Mainly because in 2013, a law that regulates the Spanish healthcare system was modified and a lot of healthcare services became inaccessible for expats.

Moreover, expats are required to show proof of health insurance when applying to visas. If you cannot find work right away, you need to demonstrate to the government that you won’t cost them a lot of money in case of an accident.

Types of Private Health Insurance Providers

When choosing private healthcare insurance, it is advisable to make your decision based on the coverage and package each provider offers, and not solely on the cheapest plan. This could turn out costly in case of emergencies, if your plan does not cover everything.

You can choose from a variety of health insurance plans in The most popular Spanish Private Insurance providers are:

  • Sanitas
  • Adeslas
  • Asisa

Average Cost of a Health Insurance in Spain

Are you wondering how much private health insurance is? The cost will depend on your age, gender, and any pre-existing conditions. The average cost of health insurance is typically from 100 to 200 EUR (112 to 224 USD) per month. You can also find plans for as low as 50 EUR (56 USD) per month with some of the bigger insurance companies. Primary care consultations and specialists in the private sector usually cost between 100 and 150 EUR (112 to 168 USD) per consultation.

For those who prefer to use private health insurance to supplement services not covered by public health insurance, there are basic, affordable plans that include services like dental care and blood tests, but exclude surgeries and hospitalization.

How to Find Doctors or Dentist

If you are at the stage in your relocation, where you are wondering how to find a doctor or dentist, then congratulations, you have come very far. As part of the public healthcare system in Spain, you are entitled to a family doctor who can offer consultations free of charge. You just need to register with your local clinic and bring along your registration documents (such as the empadronamiento from when you first registered your place of residence). A family doctor will then be assigned to you. These are general practitioners who can refer you to a specialist in the public healthcare system whenever needed.

In general, if you need to find a doctor or specialist, you should not have much difficulty. You can easily find private practices if you search for médicos near you. Dental services are not covered by public healthcare, so you will need to look for a private dentist. To find a dentist, you can look up dentistas online.

The first dentist appointment and dental check-up are often free of charge, but any procedures thereafter are charged. The prices are set by each medical practice. For reference, a filling tends to cost around 60 EUR (67 USD).

Hospitals in Spain

The public healthcare system covers emergency care, which includes going to the hospital in case of an emergency or having to undergo surgery.

Public and private hospitals in Spain are ranked among the best in the world. The only downside to public healthcare in Spain is the long waiting lists for specialists and non-emergency care.

Ambulance Services in Spain

To call for emergency assistance (ambulance, police, fire department) in Spain, you will need to dial the number 112. The first responders are trained staff among of which at least one is an emergency physician, an emergency nurse, an emergency medical technician, and a patient transport assistant. The Spanish emergency medical services consist of a two-tiered response system, Advance Life Support with physicians and nurses, and Basic Support with technicians. After assessing you on site, the staff will transport you to the nearest hospital.

Emergency care is generally covered by public health care in Spain. If you have private healthcare or are not yet eligible for Spanish healthcare, you will probably need to pay for the services yourself and send an invoice to your healthcare provider.

Giving Birth in Spain

Giving birth in Spain as a non-resident is not such a hassle. The costsfor uninsured foreigners are reasonable. However, it is crucial to haveinsurance to obtain a visa. It is not possible to be uninsured in Spain.

As a registered short-term or permanent resident with access to public or private healthcare, the cost of having a baby in Spain is covered by insurance. The benefits of giving birth in Spain as a permanent resident are many. Mother and child are accompanied medically throughout the whole pregnancy and after with prenatal exams, scans and intervention during delivery and after childbirth.

Having a Baby in Spain as a Foreigner

As a registered working resident in Spain, you have access to public healthcare. If you are pregnant and decide to give birth in a public healthcare facility, a hospital in your district will be assigned to you.

If you happen to go into labor while far away from your assigned hospital, other hospitals will take care of you.

Cost of Having a Baby in Spain

If you are entitled to using state healthcare, giving birth in Spain is free. If you have private insurance, the additional personal costs might vary depending on your insurance plan. In this case, it is best to find a plan that covers childbirth in full.

Giving Birth in Spain without Health Insurance

Being uninsured in Spain is practically unheard-of, as it is stated in the Spanish constitution that the government has to provide basic and preventative care for all. If you really are uninsured for some reason, then you won’t risk bankruptcy just for having a child. According to a study, the costs for giving birth in Spain are one of the lowest in the world at around 1,950 USD.

Giving Birth in Spain for Citizenship

In the US, children born in national territory are immediately awarded citizenship, regardless of their parents’ nationality. Spain operates with different laws. A child of foreigners is not automatically awarded Spanish citizenship just for being born on Spanish ground.

Spanish law follows the concept of Ius sanguinis (right of blood) before applying the concept of Ius soli (right of territory). Children born in Spain to non-Spanish parents will have the parents’ nationality. If either of the parents are Spanish nationals, or were born in Spain, then the child is eligible to apply for Spanish citizenship.

This said, according to article 17 of the Civil Code, Spain does award Spanish nationality to babies born in Spain, if the parent’s nationality cannot be awarded to the child for legitimate reasons. For example, if both parents come from a country that does not automatically award nationality by blood. In these cases, Spain operates under article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights, which dictates that every human being is entitled to a nationality.

Living in Spain: What It’s Really Like

Living in Spain is the dream for many. Most people imagine romantic strolls on beautiful cobblestoned walkways with flamenco music playing in the background, sipping sangria at al fresco bars.

You imagine wandering through thousand-year-old churches as the bells chime, and watching sunset over the Mediterranean Sea. There are so many spectacular cathedrals, famous art work, beaches and castles — it’s no wonder Spain is one of the most visited countries in the world.

Great quality of life

The quality of life here is great, with much more emphasis on living life rather than work. People work to live, not live to work.

Cost of living is very low

Even metropolises such as Madrid and Barcelona offer a high quality of life for far less money compared to other large European cities like London and Paris. Almost every restaurant and tapas bar serves a free plate of food, such as patatas bravas or carne con salsa, with a drink (beer and wine costs only 2 to 3 euros). A menu del dia (lunch set) costs around 10 euros and raciones (mid-sized dishes) go for 5 to 8 euros in an average restaurant.

Life in Spain is relaxed — sometimes a little too relaxed.

Nobody is in a rush to go anywhere and everyone’s just enjoying the beauty of the city.

Climate in Spain is great

How much do you like the sunshine? If you love long summers, then Spain is definitely the place for you. Due to the amazing weather, Spain offers a variety of outdoor activities, which range from surfing to hiking the spiritual pilgrimage to Santiago the Compostela.

The Food in Spain

Food in Spain is seasonal, fruits and vegetables have great taste. If you love seafood then you will find plenty of fresh fish at your local shop. For a simple but healthy lifestyle, you can definitely find everything you need in Spain.

Healthcare in Spain

Once you register as a resident here in Spain, you can get access to free medical care. Many people from the UK choose to retire in Spain, hence it makes sense to know the government has your back for when you are old. Having access to free healthcare seems pretty great no matter how you look at it.

Culture in Spain

With 17 autonomous regions, you can expect an array of cultures in Spain. From the passionate sounds of guitar in Andalucia, through the cosmopolitan vibe in Madrid, to Gaudi’s unusual architecture in Catalonia, Spain is a delicious cultural dish. All you have to do is figure out what you love and make sure you select your region carefully.

Knowing Spanish is beneficial in Spain. Not speaking the language could make every day communication hard and slow. Expats will find that a lot of Spaniards do not speak much English. When learning Spanish, expats need to be aware that some regions have different languages, such as Catalan, Basque, and Galician.

Buying property in Spain: what taxes and fees can you expect?

Buying a property in Spain entails certain costs in addition to the purchase price. As well as taxes, you’ll need to pay fees for professional services bringing the total to between 10% and 15% extra. Don’t forget to factor this figure into your budget for the purchase. In this article, we list all the costs involved in buying a property in Spain and how much you can expect to pay for each one. We’ll assume you’re buying a home to live in and not a commercial property, as this makes a difference to the taxes to be paid.

Official taxes          

Property purchase in Spain comes with a high fiscal obligation – between 8% and 11.5%. Which taxes and how much you pay depend on whether you’re buying a new or resale property.

New properties

The purchase of a new build (a property being sold for the first time) involves the payment of VAT (IVA in Spanish) which is 10% of the price, plus 1.5% Legal Documentation Tax (AJD in Spanish). This brings your total tax bill to 11.5% if you’re buying a new property in Spain.

Resale properties

If you’re buying a resale property (one that has already changed hands at least once), you’re liable for transfer tax (ITP in Spanish) that is levied on a sliding scale depending on the purchase price. On the Costa del Sol and the rest of Andalucia, you pay between 8% (on properties priced below €400,000) and a maximum of 10% (on properties priced over €700,000).

Fees

In addition to taxes, you’ll also have to pay certain fees when you buy in Spain. They include:

Notary fees

The notary charges for preparing the title deeds for the sale and witnessing the signature of the deeds by both parties. Fees are calculated depending on the purchase price and the complexity of the title deeds. Factor in between 0.5% and 1% of the price.

Land Registry fees

The Land Registry (Registro de la Propiedad) officially records the ownership of the property in your name once the purchase has been completed. For this, fees of between 0.5% and 1% are charged, depending on the purchase price.

Legal fees

Using the service of a lawyer during the purchase process is highly recommended. Do this before you pay a deposit or sign any legally binding paperwork on the property. He will carry out a Due Dilligence on the property, arrange your NIE (national identification number), represent you in front of the notary and in public identities. Expect to pay around 1% of the price for legal services.

Estate agent fees

Real estate agency fees are usually paid by the seller, you don’t need to budget separately for them in your calculations.

Banking costs

If you’re transferring money to Spain from your bank account in your home country, you may incur fees on the transaction, particularly if you’re transferring from a different currency to euros. Using the services of a specialist currency exchange broker can reduce bank charges. Banks also charge for issuing the banker’s draft used to make the payment for the property when you sign the title deeds at the notary. Check with your lawyer and bank before you order a banker’s draft to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Mortgage fees

If you’re using financing to buy your property in Spain, you’ll need to include bank charges in your budget. You’ll have to pay for a valuation – this usually costs around €500. The bank may charge an administration fee depending on the type of mortgage and the amount loaned, but as a general rule, expect a fee of approximately 1% of the mortgage value. All other costs corresponding to the mortgage, for example, land registry and notary for the mortgage deeds are covered by the bank.

Buying a property in Spain – the buying process

Spain has its own procedure for buying property. To give you an idea of what to expect when buying a property, we have prepared this overview of the main steps involved in the process. From the initial property searches to the handover of keys when you become owner of your new home in Spain.

First steps

Set your budget – do some careful maths and work out your budget. Don’t forget to account for between 10 and 12% of the purchase price for taxes and fees.

Pinpoint your chosen area – decide where you would like to live in the Costa del Sol. You may have a good idea already from previous research or visits or maybe need some pointers. Ask us for advice on which places and areas offer what you’re looking for.

Prepare a “must-have” list – make a list of what you want in the property. Bear in mind that you may not find a home that ticks all your boxes but with our help you should be able to source one that gives you almost everything.

Survey – depending on the state and/or age of the property you’re buying you might want to get a survey. The survey findings may affect how much you want to pay, for example, to compensate if the property requires extensive refurbishment.

Make an offer – when you find your ideal home, you might want to make an offer on the price. Most property owners are open to offers, although they’ll expect it to be a serious one reflecting several factors including the current market, state of the property, whether you’re a cash buyer etc. Ask us as your agent for advice on negotiating the property price.

Next steps

Once your offer has been accepted, the purchase process starts. At this stage of the procedure, you should do the following:

Contract a lawyer – do this before you pay a deposit or sign any legally binding paperwork on the property. Instruct your lawyer to carry out due diligence and basic legal checks; make sure that the property is free of any debts and/or encumbrances, request a review of building permits, licenses, certificates and taxes. We can introduce you to a lawyer that speaks your language and more importantly has knowledge of the law in Spain as well as in your home country.

Draw up a reservation contract – a reservation contract or deposit (normally 6,000 euro) is used in Spain as a standard procedure to reserve a property for a specified period of time whilst your lawyer conducts the due diligence. This deposit can be paid by credit card or bank transfer. If you proceed after the due diligence the amount will be used towards the purchase price.

Sign the private-purchase contract – this document secures the property for you and outlines the terms and conditions the transaction including the deadline for purchase. The contract is signed by the buyer and the seller (or their representatives) and the buyer usually pays 10% of the purchase price on signing. If the house is being sold with fixtures and fittings and/or furniture, the contract should have an inventory attached, which is signed by both parties.

Mortgage application – if you need a mortgage to buy the property, now is the time to start the application process. Ask your bank how long the application will take to approve and make sure the pre-purchase contract factors this timeline into the purchase.

Legalities on the house – meanwhile, your lawyer will carry out a comprehensive checklist on the property to make sure it’s 100% legal. These checks include:

  • Property register checks – to ensure the property description and legal owner match and to find out if there are any charges or encumbrances.
  • Planning checks – to ensure the property was built with the appropriate building licence and planning permissions. Or in the case of an off-plan property, to make sure the developer has all paperwork in order.
  • Tax checks – to ensure the current owners are up-to-date on payment of all taxes related to the property.
  • Community checks – to ensure the property is up-to-date with payments to the community of owners.

Final steps

Sometime after you sign the pre-purchase contract, usually between two to eight weeks, it’s time to complete.

Sign the deeds – both parties sign the title deeds in the presence of a Notary Public. Your lawyer should check the deeds and make sure everything is in order as well as provide you with a verbal translation of its contents.

Payment – in tandem with signing the deeds, you make final payment for the property. The usual method of payment is through a banker’s draft.

Key handover – once the title deeds have been signed and final payment made you receive the keys to your new home.

Registration – your lawyer will take care of registering the property in your name at the nearest Property Registry (Registro de la Propiedad).

Payment of taxes – your lawyer will also pay the appropriate taxes and fees on your behalf.

Utility supplies – your lawyer will arrange for the connection of utility supplies or the transfer of utility contracts to your name. They will also set up direct debit with your bank so that bills are paid automatically.

After-sales services

You may require extra services:

Renovation and refurbishment services – we can recommend professionals to carry out the required improvements on the property.

Removal services – you may require our recommendations for a company to move your furniture and belongings to Spain.

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