We want to set you up for success, here are the top four things you will need to get once you move to Madrid.

You have temporarily “borrowed” everyone’s luggage, have used every empty box you could find in your recycling, and have completed a thorough clearing of your wardrobe – it’s official, you are moving my friend.

Once you arrive we are sure you will have a whirlwind of emotions – you will be nervous, excited, frustrated, interested, and everything else you could think of. It is important to start off by saying that patience is key. Time cannot be of the essence when it comes to Spanish bureaucracy.

This guide was created with you in mind, in the order that we believe you will need to follow when you arrive to Madrid. 

Metro Card (Abono)

Madrid is a great city to get around, its public transport system is considered one of the best in the world. With electric bikes available in every corner, extensive bus routes and the metro being the second-longest in Europe and sixth-longest in the world we truly have it all. Over 300 stations and 12 colourful metro lines located perfectly in all important junctions of Madrid you will surely be able to explore the city comfortably. 

Without a metro card registered to your name you will find yourself at a ticket machine (located in every metro) paying 12 euros for 10 single tickets. The first time you do this, the machine will charge you an extra 2-3 euros because it is providing you with a re-usable plastic card that you will use to refill every time your tickets run out. There are always metro service workers there to assist you incase you need any help.

For your first few days in Madrid this temporary card will work, but if you plan on getting around without worrying about how many trips you have left we recommend booking an appointment to get your very own “abono”.

To complete this process you will need:

  • A standard passport sized photo
  • An original copy of either your, EU ID, Spanish residency card, or passport
  • Schedule an appointment by clicking here 

It is important to know that this card will cost a one time fee of € 5. It will take approximately 10 minutes or less to complete the necessary paperwork and have the card ready for use. Once you leave the Metro office you can go to one of the ticket machines, put through your card and pay 30 days worth of unlimited transport. 

There are two zones of Madrid which you would need to choose from.  Zone A is considered the city “center”, while Zone B the outskirts of Madrid. 

In terms of monthly pricing it goes as follows:

  • Youth Tickets: (7 – 25 years old) pay  €20 / month and have access to Zone A & B
  • Standard Tickets: (26 – 64 years old) pay €54.60 / month in Zone A and € 63.70 / month in Zone B
  • Senior Tickets: (65+) pay €3.30 and have access to Zone A & B

We have a huge tip for those moving to or will be living in Madrid from September – December 2022! 

The Government of Spain recently announced a price reduction for subscriptions. Meaning from September 1, 2022 – December 31, 2022, the 30-day regular subscription will be the following:

  • Youth Tickets: (7 – 25 years old) will cost €10
  • Standard Tickets: (26 – 64 years old) will cost €27.30
  • Senior Tickets: (65+) will cost €1.15

So if you are thinking about creating your metro card in August 2022, it may be best to purchase the 10-trip pass and hold off until September 1st to pay for your 30-day subscription to take advantage of this discount!  



The certificate of “empadronamiento” (also known as padrón) is an official registry that indicates where you live which every resident of a municipal area, whether Spanish or foreigner must legally have. It is advised to do this within your first month of being in Spain as you will most likely need to present it in various administrative occasions. We recommend applying for this certification before getting your NIE. 

To complete this process you will need:

  • To fill out the application form here
  • A valid passport and copy for each member you are registering
  • Provide proof of address
  • To schedule the appointment here by selecting “Padrón” in the category and then “Certificatido de empadronamiento”

NIE – Identification 

A NIE is “Número de identidad de extranjero” meaning a Foreigner Identity Number, not to be confused with a tax identification number. A NIE is linked to your residence card and to your social security in Spain. If you plan to live in Spain more than three months it is a requirement for you to obtain this card. 

Whether you are an EU citizen or NON-EU citizen this card is required by law. You cannot apply for the NIE online, it must be done in person, but are encouraged to prebook your appointments before your arrival to Spain. 

To complete this process you will need:

City Life Madrid has provided an intricate step-by-step guide as well, to help you obtain your NIE and have even provided a direct link to a consulting company experienced with this application process.



Having a Spanish bank account is not a legal requirement, but if you plan on living in Spain it would be extremely beneficial to your finances to avoid conversion fees and commission from your credit card.

There are 2 types of bank accounts in Spain:

  • a residents account (for people who live in Spain)
  • a non-residents account (for people who live abroad)

It is important to keep in mind that although the non-residents’ account is easier to open, a resident’s bank account can give you more flexibility.

To complete this process you will need:

  • Proof of identity (Passport)
  • Your NIE
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of employment status (student card or employment contract) 

There are a handful of banks that do not require a NIE number to open an account such as LaCaixa, Bankinter, Santander and Sabadell

Banks are typically open from 8:30 – 14:30 Monday – Friday to assist you in opening your new account. 

After you have completed all of this you will be ready to relax on a terrace with a well deserved vermouth or
caña while basking in the Spanish sun from all your hard work. 



The information on this blog post could change, it is always advisable to look on official government websites for updated versions. 



Read More


Renata Primorac


Renata is our Social Media & Content Manager.