The legal requirements for people intending to buy a property on Spain’s Costa Blanca or reside in Spain are mostly national, although each area may have different ways of going about things. See www.costablancamagic.com for more info on this.
EU citizen’s no longer need either a visa or work permit to establish themselves in Spain but will need a contract of employment, and must pay taxes and social security. They are allowed to remain for six months; working or otherwise; but if longer should register with the town hall. The ‘residencia’ or residence card no longer exists, but everyone should have an NIE number; Numero Identificacion de Extranjeros, or Foreigners Identification Number.
Even those only staying on the Costa Blanca for a few months should have this number, which will be yours for life. Each time you return for seasonal work, you present the number with your passport to your employer. You will also receive a social security number, which again will be yours for life.
Everyone in Spain is required to carry photo ID on their person, but for British people this means a passport, and no-one wants to carry this with them everywhere, but the Spanish police know this and are happy if you produce a colour photocopy, along with your NIE number, which comes on an A4 size paper. I generally carry a colour copy of both; if the police need to see the originals they may ask you to produce them at the station next day, or if you are in trouble they will escort you to your residence to get them.
You will also need both passport and NIE originals to open a bank account, start an account with a phone company, electricity supplier etc.; even for a store loyalty card!
If you intend to work on the Costa Blanca your employer will arrange your contract, which when registered with the government agency will include your Social Security number (Seguridad Social) the employer may also arrange for your NIE number for you, although you will have to pay the minimal charge of around €50. Another way to apply for the NIE is through a Gestoria; an agency that deals with all sorts of legal issues; something like an English solicitor and accountant combined. The agent, called a Gestor, will apply on your behalf for the NIE, and charge you a fee on top of the cost. A gestor will also help if you want to set up a business, and further will do your taxes for you, while they are also useful if you want to buy a house or other property. In tourist areas or places with a large expat community, they will generally speak English, so will be helpful in many areas.
Those who are going to live but not work on the Costa Blanca will also need the NIE number and should be registered with the local town hall. You will take your property deeds, or rental contract, to the Town hall (Ayuntamiento) and ask for a “Certificado de Empadronamiento” which is a certificate to show you are residing in the town. This certificate, along with your passport and NIE, are required at the hospital or clinic where you will be assigned a GP.
In the past, you would have been required to show means of support before you were given a residents’ permit, but as these are no longer issued, you have only to be sure for yourself that you can survive. When arriving to look for work, it is necessary to have enough cash to support yourself for at least a couple of weeks to a month, while you find a job and somewhere to stay. A good idea is to book a package, with flights and hotel with full board; to be sure. Presumably if you are not intending to work you are already self-sufficient. Workers should be aware that there is no unemployment benefit until you have paid contributions for at least a year.
With the EU, we can no longer hop around the Spanish Costas doing casual work here and there to exist, as it is now necessary to do everything legally, but wages are good and the lifestyle is great, once you are settled and find the right places to go for food and entertainment.