Moving to Tenerife

Within easy reach of most European cities, and with year-round sunshine, Tenerife is an attractive place to live. More and more people are deciding to take the plunge and settle permanently in Tenerife. Ask any resident who has relocated here if they have any regrets and the usual reply is of course yes. They wish they had made the decision to move here sooner. The climate makes you happier, you smile more, you feel healthier, you are more active and in general, you get more out of life.

What jobs are most widely available?

The tourist industry is the main employer on the island. Bar, restaurant and cleaning work are probably the easiest jobs to find for a newcomer. Bear in mind that even for these jobs, some Spanish will be useful, and for other jobs e.g. reception work; a high level of Spanish is usually required. Some German is also useful. As the population grows, more service industries are springing up, but bear in mind that a degree in rocket science isn’t going to get you far unless you can communicate with your customers

Do I need a work permit?

If you are from the EU, no. But you should attempt to get a job with a contract of employment otherwise you are working illegally. A resident’s permit used to be required if staying for longer than 3 months, but is no longer required if you are an EU citizen. You should , however register where you are living with the appropriate town hall (empadronamiento). The police will come and check with your neighbours that you live where you stated on the application form and you can then get a certificado de empadronamiento whenever you require it. As well as being necessary for applying for school places etc, this certificate also entitles you to a resident’s discount on domestic flights and ferry services. Foreigners of virtually any nationality are allowed to purchase holiday homes in Tenerife. Foreigners can also become residents, work and establish businesses on the island. This is relatively straight forward if you hold a European Community passport, however, can be more problematical for other foreigners (depending on nationality). Remember that the Canary Islands are not Spain. The islands are Spanish Sovereignty; they are autonomous, having their own government and political system. Though many of the rules and regulations are in line with Mainland Spain, there are many exceptions and differences

How do I find a job?

This is almost impossible to do from the U.K. There are very few employment agencies and they have very few jobs on their books. The classified sections of the newspapers are in a similar situation and most of these jobs would require a high degree of fluency in Spanish. The majority of jobs are advertised by a sign in the business’s window or word of mouth and most employers would want to see the candidate before entering into a contract of employment.

How do I go about starting my own business?

The most popular business for foreigners is running a bar or restaurant. You can either look for an existing business for sale, or start a new one from scratch. You will need to apply for a business licence from the local council and register with the hacienda (tax office) and social security office when your business is up and running. Most people use the services of an “assessoria” for this, as they are up-to-date with current legislation. You can do all the paperwork yourself, but little English is spoken in these offices, the queues are usually long and even finding out what paperwork you require and which office to go to can be a frustrating process.

Income tax

If you are earning a certain level of income you will need to complete a ”declaracion de la renta” before June 30th every year. Below a certain level of income you are not obliged to file this tax return, although it may be useful in applying for school places etc. Deductions are given for dependant children, mortgage repayments or rental payments, contributions to Spanish pension plans amongst other things. Again, you can use the services of an assessoria to help you complete the tax return. Depending on the calculations and the amount of tax you have paid throughout the year, you will either get a rebate or an additional tax bill. If you own your own business, you will be paying quarterly contributions to your tax bill. When you file your tax return, you will either receive a rebate or additional bill.

Property tax

If you own a property on the island you will have to pay a yearly tax to the Ayuntamiento at the “oficina de recaudacion”, similar to rates in the UK. The payment period varies according to which area of the island you live in, and is notified by means of notices posted around town. The amount varies according to the value of the property as calculated by the “oficina de catastro”. You will also have to pay rubbish collection and sewerage taxes at the same time. Rubbish collection taxes are also charged to businesses. You are not sent any notification of these bills, it is your responsibility to go to the “oficina de recaudacion” and pay them, and you will incur a 20% fine if you don’t pay them within the specified time

Car Tax

If you own a car you will have to pay a yearly road tax, which varies according to model but is around 30- 40 euros per year.

Local Business Tax

You will also have to pay rubbish collection tax and there may be additional taxes to pay, if your business occupies the public thoroughfare (i.e. has tables and chairs on public land), has an awning or pergola or a sign outside.

Is it easy to find accommodation?

Rented accommodation: With the increase of construction in some areas, more rental property is becoming available. Average rents vary from around 450 euros a month for a studio to 750 euros a month. Less popular areas tend to be cheaper. Water and electricity may or may not be included in the rental price, so check this before signing any agreement. A month’s deposit and a month’s rent in advance are standard

How do I buy a property?

There are plenty of estate agents on the island, most of whom have English-speaking staff. You should always have a lawyer thoroughly check the paperwork before signing any purchase contract. The most important piece of paper is the “escritura” or title deeds. These will bear the name of the owner of the property, so check that they are the same as the vendors and check that the description of the property is the same as the property you are buying. The property should also be registered in the “registro de propriead” under the owner’s name. If a deposit is requested, be aware that if you pull out for any reason you may forfeit some, or all of your deposit, even if it is due to an irregularity on the vendor’s part.

It is also vital to check that the property is free of debts as under Spanish law, debts belong to the property, not the owner. Therefore, if the previous owner hasn’t paid his municipal taxes or even mortgage payments the new purchaser may find himself liable for them. All this should be checked by your lawyer. There are various costs involved in purchasing a property which typically amount to over 10% of the purchase price. The major one is the “impuesto sobre transmissiones” which amounts to 6% of the purchase price for a re-sale property. Your lawyer should be able to give you an estimate of the total fees and taxes payable. Properties may be sold fully, partly, or unfurnished. There are several furniture suppliers on the island, some of whom will provide a complete furnishing service. If you are buying a new construction, fitted kitchen and bathroom may or may not be included, if not, again there are lots of kitchen suppliers. The other option is to buy a piece of land and have a property constructed to your specifications. As in buying a finished property, always use the services of a lawyer to check that the land belongs to the vendor and that it is possible to build on it. Land is classified as rural, semi-urban or urban and the size of possible construction will vary according to its classification. You will also need to check whether the land has mains electricity and water supplies nearby, as you will have to pay to have these services brought to your property. If the cost is prohibitive you can use generators and have water delivered to an underground water tank

Live or work in Tenerife

You cannot live or work in Tenerife for any reasonable length of time without a formal residencia. We meet many people who are under the impression that an N.I.E. number or contract of work is sufficient to give them legal status. This is NOT the case. obtaining legal status to reside or work in Tenerife:
Nationals of European Community member countries have no specific problems. Since March 2003, the requirement for ‘formal Residencia’ was abolished. It is, however, still a requirement to register with the town hall of the municipality in which you reside and obtain a Certificado de Residencia. Other necessary documentation will include, payment of Social Security, obtaining an N.I.E. number, and entry onto the electoral register (Certificado de Domicillo) in order to qualify for national health cover, etc.

Residential Status

Generally, your residential status application will fall under one of the following categories:

A) Residencia General requirements;
You wish to live in Tenerife, but not work, or you are retired. 1) N.I.E. (Foreigners Identity Number). 2) Evidence of regular income or pension from abroad. (For pensioners usually a copy of your pension certificate is sufficient). 3) Obtain a European health card or private medical insurance or some other health cover.

B) Residencia Cuenta Ajena General requirements;
You are or want to become an employee of a local business. 1) N.I.E. (Foreigners Identity Number) 2) Contract of work from employer

C) Residencia Cuenta Propio/Autonomo General Requirements;
You want to be self-employed, – operate your own business. 1) N.I.E. (Foreigners Identity Number) 2) The appropriate licence for your activity (this cannot be generalised there are extensive variations). 3) If you are to be involved in a professional capacity, copies of your professional qualifications, certificates, officially translated.
At the time of print residencies are valid for a period of five years. When your residency expires, there is no provision to extend the residency. You must re-apply in full for a new residency, repeating the original procedure.

Can I use the Spanish health system?

If you have a job with a contract, your employer (or yourself, if you are self- employed) will be paying social security contributions on your behalf, which entitles you to use the Spanish healthcare system. You will need to apply for a “tarjeta Sanitaria” from your local health centre. Most sizeable towns and villages have a health centre. If you are not in employment and therefore not paying into the social security system, you should ensure that you have private health insurance. There are private clinics in most of the tourist resorts.

How do I open a bank account?

There are plenty of Spanish banks in all the major towns, some of whom have affiliations with UK banks, making transferring funds a lot easier. There are two different types of bank accounts available, a resident’s account for those with permanent residence on the island or a non-resident’s account for those not permanently residing on the island. To open a bank account you will need a NIF Number (fiscal identity number), proof of identity (passport or similar) and some money to open your account. Chequebooks have to be ordered, but cheques are rarely accepted as a form of payment. Even large purchases such as furniture tend to be paid for in cash or by credit/debit card.

Banking hours
8.30 – 2.00pm including Saturday mornings in the winter, and 8.30-1.00pm (but not Saturday mornings) in the summer.

Should I buy or bring a car?

Although the idea of packing up your belongings, driving through France and Spain, and catching the ferry from Cadiz appeals to the romantic in most of us, in practice it isn’t a good idea. Firstly the paperwork to legalise your car is horrendous and secondly the ferry tickets from Cadiz have to be booked at least 6 months in advance. Compared to the cost of buying an airline ticket and buying a car here, it just isn’t worth it.

New cars tend to be cheaper to buy here than in UK, second-hand ones are slightly more expensive. You will be able to get spare parts for cars that have a dealer on the island. If you buy a second-hand car you will need to transfer ownership into your name. This can be done at the “trafico” offices, or by an assesoria or gestor if you don’t want to do it yourself. ITV (Spanish MOT) If your car is more than five years old, you will have to take it for a regular ITV (M.O.T.). You should make an appointment by phone with the ITV testing centre. Remember to take all the car’s paperwork with you, identification, and some money to cover the ITV fees otherwise you will have a wasted journey. Testing is now quite stringent. They will check that car doors open, windscreen wipers and all the lights work as well as testing exhaust emissions and brakes are within the legal limits, so it’s worth giving your car a check-up before you go. If they find a dangerous fault, you may be required to leave your car at the testing centre (and be obliged to hire a tow-truck to take it to a mechanic), if the fault is less severe you have 2 weeks in which to have it repaired at an authorised garage and present the car for reinspection. You will then get a sticker to display on your windscreen, showing how long the ITV is valid for. The validity period will vary between 6 months to 2 years according to the age and condition of the vehicle. There are hefty fines for driving without an ITV.

Will my British driving licence be valid?

If you are resident on the island, your British driving licence won’t be valid for driving in Tenerife and you are in danger of incurring a fine if stopped by the police. To transfer your British licence you will need to go to “trafico surrender your British licence, and complete an application form for a Spanish one. You will also need 4 passport type photos, your passport, and money to cover the transfer fee. Make sure you arrive before 12 am , as they won’t accept any more people after this. You will get a copy of the application to carry with you until your new driving licence arrives (usually about 3 months).

What are government office hours?

Most government and council offices are only open until 1.00pm and many do not accept new people after 12.00am. Queues are the norm, so allow plenty of time for any paperwork. Generally you can expect to make 2 visits to get anything achieved – one to collect application forms and a list of paperwork required and a second visit to make the actual application. Some offices have a ticketing system to ensure an orderly queue, where you take a number when you arrive, in others you have to ask who was last in and calculate your position in the queue from that.