Living in Spain

Most homes in urbanised areas have a choice of electricity suppliers, although in rural areas it is unlikely for there to be more than one supplier. In some remote areas no mains electricity, or a limited service, is available. Households can install a generator.

There are different electricity providers in each autonomous region and as such the price is likely to vary from place to place. The Town Hall (Ayuntamiento) can provide information on the local suppliers of electricity, water and gas.

Spain’s standard electricity supply is 220 Volts (V), 50 Hertz (Hz) AC, although in some older properties it is still possible to find 110 V supply or a combination of the two.

Note: A country’s available voltage is printed on the glass of a light bulb, or the light bulb packet.

Plugs and Adapters

Spain uses the standard European two-pin plug and socket.

All domestic goods sold in Spain have a compatible two pin plug attached. For appliances with foreign plugs, adapters (enchufes or adaptador) can be bought or the plug can be changed. Adapters are widely available at most large supermarkets in tourist destinations, and electrical shops and DIY stores also usually stock them.

Time of Day Rates

Some electricity suppliers offer a “Time of Day Rate” which provides reduced rate electricity during off-peak hours. Generally, customers choosing this option will have to have a new electric meter fitted. Prices for this service vary between companies and it is advisable to enquire with the local supplier for further information.

Power Cuts (apagon)

Spain operates a power rating system (potencia) where a household calculates its average usage and the supply received is based on this. This can cause small blackouts if too many appliances are used at once.

It is worth knowing that during peak electricity usage periods and storms the electrical supply may be cut; this happens regularly in many regions. A supplementary generator or UPS system for computers can be installed at a business or home that depends on power.

A power surge protector is also recommended to protect appliances (computers, TVs, fax machines) from damage when the power supply is resumed.

Getting Connected to Mains Electricity

It is necessary to have a contract with the local electricity company in order to receive electricity. In general, the information needed to get power connected is the following:

First-time connection for a new-build house:

  • Connection certificate / CIE (Boletin de Enganche, Certificado Instalación de Baja Tensión or Certificado de Instalación Eléctrica). This must be supplied by the electrician responsible for the initial installation of wiring in the property and should be stamped. The CIE guarantees the quality of the installation and lists specific details about the power supply
  • The First Occupation Licence (Licencia de Primera Ocupación) or Certificate of Habitability (Certificado de Habitabilidad) available from a Town Hall (Ayuntamiento)
  • NIE number
  • Supply point address
  • Bank account number

For all electrical connections:

  • A copy of the last electricity bill to the property
  • Identification (passport or NIE number)
  • If renting, details of the rental contract or details from the property title deeds
  • Bank account details in order to set up payment of the bi-monthly bills on Standing Order

A CIE certificate is only required if the property is older than 20 years old. In the Canary Islands, a CIE certificate is required no matter what the age of the property.

Once the contract is set up, bills will be received by post or can be viewed on the supplier’s website, showing the total amount that will be debited from the bank account.

To cancel the contract it is necessary to write a letter to the supplying company asking them to stop the service. Attach a copy of the passport identity page or NIE number.

The electricity supply in most of Spain is 220 volts AC with a frequency of 50 hertz (cycles).

For registration by telephone or Internet:

  • Identification (passport or NIE number)
  • Electricity supply reference number (Contrato de Suministro Nº) usually found on the top left-hand corner of an electricity bill
  • Bank account details in order to set up payment of the bi-monthly bills on Standing Order

Once the contract is set up, bills will be received by post or sent by email or can be viewed on the supplier’s website, showing the total amount that will be debited from the bank account. Electricity consumption is charged per KW and bills are issued every two months. VAT and standing order charges are also added to the bill. Electricity consumption is estimated every second billing period. Bills can be paid via direct debit (transferencia) or by cash at the electricity’s company office, approved banks or the, post office. When transferring an electricity contract from one name to another, ensure all previous bills are settled otherwise the new owner is liable for any outstanding charges.

Some electricity companies offer ‘Apps’ for mobile devices allowing customers to check bills, usage and contact customer services, To cancel the contract it is necessary to write a letter to the supplying company asking them to stop the service. Attach a copy of the passport identity page or NIE number. Any standing orders or direct debits should also be cancelled with the bank.

Electricity companies

The National Energy Commission (La Comisión Nacional de Energía or CNE) has a complete list of energy suppliersand contact details available in Spain. (PDF in Spanish)

Comprehensive information for both gas and electricity consumers can also be found online at the The National Energy Commission (La Comisión Nacional de Energía). By entering a postcode, consumers can compare the rates of each national supplier to find the cheapest electricity tariff.

An energy price comparison website is provided by Comision Nacional De Los Mercados Y La Competencia.

Renewable Energy

Government grants are available for solar energy hot water boilers, biomass boilers and solar panels that are certified by the Spanish Government. Installers can advise customers on application procedure in their region, before installation permission is required from the electricity supplier. In October 2015 the Government declared that solar panels connected to the national grid producing less than 10kW per hour will not be taxed.

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When moving into a property with mains gas (currently only in the major cities), contact the local gas company to have the gas switched on, the meter read and to sign a supply contract. A bill will be sent bi-monthly (every two months), which will include VAT (IVA) at 16 percent. Gas can be paid by direct debit (domiciliación bancaria). Gas Natural is the main supplier for all regions of Spain.

If there is no mains gas, butane bottled gas (bombonas) can be delivered or may be available from local petrol stations, supermarkets and other suppliers, depending on the area.

A contract with a supplier is needed initially in order to receive bottled gas. Before this contract is approved, the supplier will require a safety inspection where it will check the property where the gas appliance is to be used.

The property owner will also need to provide the following paperwork:

  • Photocopy and original of passport or NIE
  • Photocopy of another utility bill for the same address
  • Certificate provided by technician for gas inspection.

A refundable deposit is payable on each gas bottle the first time it is purchased. Once the bottle is empty, it can be exchanged for a full one. Appliances must be serviced every five years (servicing can be arranged through the bottled-gas supplier or an authorised distributor). The price of gas fluctuates from time to time, but is fixed at the same rate at all suppliers.

Gas Companies

The National Energy Commission (La Comisión Nacional de Energía or CNE) has comprehensive information for both gas and electricity consumers.

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Local municipalities usually control the water supply in Spain and pass on the responsibility of distribution to a private or public company. The seller of the house or the landlord must supply the new resident with the most recent water bills paid to the utility company. The Town Hall provides information on which water company supplies a property. If renting the same procedure applies, unless utilities are included in the rent.

  • Water restrictions are common place in some regions and water saving is encouraged
  • The following documents are necessary to obtain water
  • Photocopy of the property title deed (Escritura) or rental contract of the property in the applicants name
  • Photocopy of the passport/residence permit or NIE number
  • Official water installation certificate (Boletin del agua) provided by a certified plumber (in the case of a new property)
  • Payment of the contract fee
  • Bank account details in order to set up payment of bills on Standing Order

When transferring a water contract from one name to another, ensure all previous bills have been settled by the previous owner otherwise the new owner is liable for any outstanding debts.

There is usually a quarterly charge for minimum consumption, (canon de consumo) even if no water is used during the billing period. Some regional governments issue a charge for water purification. Late bill payments incur a surcharge. In some areas, the water bill is combined with a refuse collection and sewerage fee.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment has comprehensive details on subjects like water resources, water quality and flood management.

The Spanish Association of Water Treatment and Control (Asociacion Espanola de Empresas de Tratamiento y Control de Aguas) is responsible for bringing together companies in the water sector

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Movistar (previously known as Telefónica) is the national supplier of landline telephone service, cellular/mobile telephone service, Internet and ADSL. Long-distance and Internet service may be obtained through other providers, but the basic landline will still be provided through Movistar

Note: while Movistar is the only provider authorised to install physical landlines, there are many other companies that offer telephone accounts. For listings, see the Internet, Telephone, VOIP and WiFi category of the Angloinfo Business Directory.

Other phone companies include:

The following information may be required by Movistar when contacting the call service:

  • Movistar bill (if available) or a recent utility (electricity) bill
  • NIE and passport number
  • Bank account details
  • Mobile number of a friend or a neighbour

Bilingual agents can be hired to assist in getting telephone and Internet service established. The agent acts as a go-between with Movistar and provides contracts and other information (including manuals) in English.

Getting a telephone line installed

Movistar is the only company authorised to install landlines in Spain; there may be lengthy delays (many months) for installation, particularly in new developments or areas that are rural, difficult-to-reach or have rough terrain.

To obtain a new phone line, it is necessary to contact Movistar directly. The Movistar website has a search feature that allows potential customers to check if desired services are available in their area, though the website is in Spanish.

Getting a telephone line connected

Before moving into an apartment or house, verify if there is a line (the presence of phone jacks does not mean a line is installed). Where a phone line is functioning and “live” it is possible (and less expensive) to transfer the account from the name of the previous occupant to the new one.

Requests for transfers may be done online at the Movistar website and can be submitted up to two months in advance of the changeover. Customers moving within the same Movistar tariff zone may be able to keep their previous Movistar phone number.

To reconnect a phone line, contact Movistar directly by calling them or by visiting a local Movistar shop. Cancelling a telephone line needs to be done in writing and cancellation take 48 hours from when notification is received.

Getting a business line

Contact Movistar directly to establish business telephone and Internet service. This may be done via the Movistar website or local Movistar shop.

Making phone calls

Phone calls within Spain are usually charged by the minute, with charges dependent on the time of day the call is made. Apply for a flat rate plan if a large number of calls are likely to be made. Although Movistar holds a majority of the market, there are quite a few competitors offering reduced pricing plans.

Calls can be made using the existing phone service, pre-paid phone cards, access codes, call-back numbers or over the Internet.

Useful telephone numbers in Spain
To call out of Spain dial the exit code followed by country code and number 00 +
To call into Spain dial entry code followed by Spanish number 34 +
Movistar’s English-speaking account inquiry (say “English” at the prompts) Tel: 1004
Movistar’s domestic services (to reach technical support) Tel: 1004
From a mobile: Movistar’s technical support and line fault Tel: 1004 / 680 / 013 123 300
Spanish directory enquiries Tel: 11822 / 11818
International directory enquiries Tel: 11825
To call via an operator Tel: 1008


Movistar bills can be received on paper by post, electronically via email or accessed at the Movistar website. Landline Movistar bills are generally distributed every alternate month. Payment can be made via direct debit, by cash at a local bank, in Movistar shops and online. If payment is late or not received, Movistar may cut off outgoing service and demand a fee in addition to outstanding bills to re-establish normal service.

Note: In certain areas companies (including ONO) provide telephone and Internet services via cable; this is independent of Movistar.

Technical Support and Customer Services

In the event of a problem with a landline, billing or any other issue, some providers offer support agents and technicians via their websites where issues can be resolved online. The following numbers may also be useful:

Movistar’s English-speaking account inquiry (say “English” at the prompts) Tel: 1004
Movistar’s domestic services (to reach technical support) Tel: 1004
From a mobile: Movistar’s technical support and line fault Tel: 1004 / 680 / 013 123 300

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Many choices exist for mobile phone service in Spain. Spanish mobile phone service operates on a GSM network, so phones from elsewhere in Europe, including the UK, will probably function, although roaming charges may apply. For those spending some time in Spain, buying and installing a Spanish SIM card in the phone (and therefore obtaining a Spanish mobile phone number) is a less-expensive option. Phones from North America that operate on the CDMA system will not work in Spain.

Smartphones and iPhones are commonplace in Spain. Mobile cellular telephone service providers offer various tariffs which incorporate air time, texts and GB data. 3G networks are widely available and 4G networks are on the increase.

Prepaid and contract phones

For those opting for a Spanish SIM card and/or phone, phone service can be obtained on a pre-paid or contract basis.

Identification such as a Número de Identificación de Extranjero (NIE), or passport and proof of address are required when buying a new SIM card. This identification is required to comply with Spanish anti-terrorism laws.

Contracts: Connection, services offered and monthly service charges vary depending on the provider and it is recommended to compare the prices and services offered. Service on a contract is generally less expensive per minute than the pre-paid service and billing is usually on a monthly basis. Service providers offer various tariff plans. A minimum contract of 12 months is usually required.

Pay as you go: The pre-paid card (tarjeta prepago) provides a number and a certain amount of call-time (“credit”). The credit must be used within the expiry period, or the number may be reissued by the service provider. No contract with the service provider is required.

Cards can be bought at a number of places: tobacconists (estancos), newsagents, supermarkets, petrol stations and from telephone card machines.

Pre-paid calling plans require credit to be bought at a mobile phone store, tobacconist, grocery store or newsagent. Some banks offer an account top-up service available from ATMs.

Credit on prepaid phones usually has an expiry date, after which the number will only receive limited service. If the phone credit is not topped up after this expiry date, the number may be reassigned by the service provider. The expiry period varies between providers.


There are several mobile service providers in Spain:

Virtual Mobile Phone Service Providers

Mobile Virtual network operators (MVNO) are on the rise in Spain. These operators do not own mobile networks but rent capacity from larger networks and sell it on to their customers at a competitive rate.

Virtual providers include:

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Internet connection is usually provided via a physical telephone line, although portable mobile options for smartphones are available. Once a telephone line is installed, there are various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offering telephone and Internet package deals. Prices can vary and installation fees usually apply.

Fixed Broadband

For permanent residents or long-term visitors, the best option is to sign up to one of the unlimited high-speed broadband connection plans from one of the major telephone companies. ADSL and cable broadband allow the user to stay connected to the Internet 24-hours a day. Internet speed will depend on what the local exchange system is capable of supplying. Phone and broadband Internet connection is commonplace in large cities and highly populated regions. There are some isolated rural areas where broadband or even landline connections are not guaranteed due to a lack of infrastructure, however the coverage areas and level of bandwidth continue to improve.

Movistar is the national supplier of landline telephone, Internet and ADSL services. Telephone and Internet services can be obtained through other providers, but the landline is provided through Movistar. The company is an ex-state service and still retains more than 80 percent of the market share.

The most common and practical way to get online is via a package deal with an Internet Service Provider. They offer deals that include phone and Internet access at a flat fee. Be sure to check on hidden costs such as hardware installation, taxes and other “fees” the provider adds.

Installation of the broadband hardware may be required. Most Internet providers can send technicians to help, but there may be a charge. High-speed access usually involves signing a contract of one year or 18 months. If a contract is terminated before the expiry date, a significant fee may be incurred.

Once broadband is installed, a WiFi router can be connected, allowing for wireless Internet usage within a building and for other computers and mobile devices to be connected.

The main broadband and internet service providers in Spain are:

The Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism has a policy of universal service whereby the provision of electronic communications service is guaranteed to all users who request it, regardless of geographical location. This includes broadband up to a speed of 1 Mbps. This is the responsibility of Movistar until the end of 2016.

Signing up to a service

In order for non-Spanish citizens to register with an Internet service provider, they must be over 18 years of age and have an NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero). Switching to other providers is usually only allowed if the registered name and the NIE number are the same. A bank card and Spanish bank account details are required to complete an application and so that debit payments can be made.

Some Internet providers can provide service contracts in English, but can only offer technical support and customer service in Spanish.

Dial-up Internet Access

For those who do not want to commit to a long-term contract or do not use the Internet on a regular basis, dial-up Internet may be available. Dial-up access is billed per minute or on the basis of a predefined credit within a monthly bill. As the slowest and oldest form of Internet connection, dial-up is slowly being phased out. Dial-up uses the telephone line in accessing the Internet; this means the telephone cannot be used simultaneously while connected.

Dial-up is generally offered in the following ways by Internet Service Providers:

  • Pay as you go (PAYG)
  • Flat rate service (tarifa plana), at a fixed rate per month for unlimited access
  • A combination of PAYG and flat rate – usually involving a flat fee for access off-peak and a per-minute charge during business hours

Satellite Broadband

Satellite Internet use is increasing. Those living in rural areas may find that satellite broadband is their only option for Internet and telephone service. The equipment required is a satellite dish, modem and broadband router. The satellite dish must have a clear line of sight to the south. If renting a home or other premises, installation of a dish is subject to the landlord’s approval. Like regular broadband, it can be connected to the Internet at all times while allowing phone calls. Plans usually come with monthly data upload and download limits. Set-up and monthly service costs charged by the individual provider are generally much higher than conventional broadband. Download speeds can be quite fast, with speeds of around 10 Mbps, but upload speeds are much slower and there can be a delay in the signal.


WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is a high speed, long-range wireless connection that is available for some areas where landlines are not available. In order to receive this service, a small dish must be erected on the outside of the property. The installation is similar to satellite TV, although with much smaller equipment. For a WiMax installation to work, the receiver must be within the direct (line of sight) path of the transmission mast. Speeds and reliability can be affected by network traffic and environmental factors.

Aeromax, WifiBaleares and Iberbanda offer WiMax, and ConectaBalear provides a WiMax service exclusively to Mallorca which covers most of the island.

WiFi Hotspots

Hotspots can typically be found in coffee shops and various other public establishments. Some will offer free WiFi (a password may be required), while other wireless hotspots require a credit card payment through a browser before allowing access to the Internet.

3G and 4G Mobile Broadband

3G is primarily designed for sending and receiving small quantities of data via mobile devices, but some find the portability and pay-as-you-go structure useful as their primary means of connection. It may be offered by a mobile phone provider, or as part of a home Internet bundle. Coverage depends on the area and the network. Some providers and some tariffs do not allow VoIP data or charge extra. VoIP allows both voice and data communications to be run over a single network. Another option is adding a data option to a Smartphone contract and “sharing” its 3G data connection with other Wi-Fi devices.

An NIE is required to buy any kind of mobile phone or mobile Internet.

There are 4G networks available in Spain. All towns and cities with more than 10,000 residents will have access to the 4G network. Coverage will extend to 85 per cent of the population by the end of 2015. The theoretical maximum download speed for the network is 75Mbps, but the average is between 20Mbps and 40Mbps.

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The television standard in use in Spain is DVB-T. Spain started broadcasting in digital in 1999, and finished broadcasting in analogue in April 2010.

Most countries in the world have either switched over, are switching over, or plan to switch over from analogue TV broadcasting to digital TV broadcasting. Before the advent of digital broadcasting, the main three standards were:

  • NTSC: the USA, Canada, Japan
  • PAL: most of Western Europe, Australia, southern Africa
  • SECAM: Eastern Europe and France

Today, the main digital standards are:

  • DVB-T: most of the world, including Europe, southern Africa, Australia and southern Asia
  • ATSC: the USA, Canada, Mexico and South Korea
  • ISDB-T: most of South America
  • DTMB: China

Digital set-top boxes are available for people still using analogue TVs. However, these only work within one set of standards, so an analogue set brought into another region may still not work with a set-top box.

The DVD region for Spain is 2. DVD players will either need to be region-free or set to region 2 in order to play discs typically bought in Spain.

National Spanish TV Stations

There is no TV licence fee payable in Spain; advertising supports all channels. Spain does not have a national independent broadcasting authority.

Some of the autonomous communities have a regulatory board but the only national commission is the Comisión del Mercado de las Telecomunicaciones (Telecommunications Market Commission) that has a small influence over the audio-visual sector.

There are a number of regional stations available to each province broadcasting in the local language such as Catalan, Basque and Galician.

Terrestrial Digital Television (TDT)

TDT is the Spanish equivalent of the UK’s free view television. Digital television provides a greater number of channels and better picture quality using transmission to a standard television aerial. In Spain analogue television was completely phased out in April 2010.

  • The Ministry of Industry and Tourism has more information about TDT

Satellite programming

Free to air programming from other countries may be received with an appropriately-sized and -oriented satellite dish and digital satellite receiver. Some European providers also make these television services available via the Internet.

Alternatively, it is possible to access UK-based free-to-air (FTA) programming on the same satellite that broadcasts Sky Digital. It is not known, however, whether this will still be possible after UK services transfer to the Astra 2E satellite in early 2014. Please note that there is no way to access encrypted programming within the terms and conditions of the TV provider, if that provider exclusively serves the UK.

Satellite dishes over 1.9 metres in diameter may require planning permission from the local Town Hall (Ayuntamiento) although this varies between towns and should be checked before proceeding with any installation.

Internet Protocol TV

An increasing number of TV channels are offering IPTV services or VPN TV: programming delivered via the Internet rather than by satellite or cable. As with satellite TV, the availability of channels from other countries depends on international licensing arrangements, and the terms under which the provider makes their programming available overseas.

IPTV service providers in Spain include:

Related Information

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What follows is a small selection of basic self-service supermarkets, furniture, appliance, office supply and DIY hardware chain stores in Spain. There is no guarantee that anyone will speak English, but once you have found what you need, little more than basic Spanish should be necessary for the transaction.

Look in the Yellow Pages or on the stores’ own websites for the branch addresses.

Hypermarkets, Supermarkets and Superstores

Alcampo: Supermarket chain also offering online order service.

Aldi: Supermarket chain offering food, some clothing, and some electrical applicances.

Caprabo: One of the largest supermarket chains in Spain. The Club Cliente Caprabo card offers extra savings for regular shoppers. In addition to stocking a wide range of food produce, the shops also sell household goods and audiovisual equipment.

Carrefour: Large hypermarket chain offering Carrefour own brand foods, clothing, accessories and electrical appliances. Discounts offered to holders of the store’s loyalty card or Carrefour credit card.

Consum Cooperativa: Supermarkets chain present in some regions of Spain.

E.Leclerc: Supermarket and hypermarkets present across the mainland, with general foodstuffs, clothes, electrical appliances, accessories and household goods.

Eroski: Basque supermarket chain with 1,000 stores across the country. Some of the larger branches have petrol stations. Eroski has its own brand for fresh products, Eroski Natur.

Froiz: A large supermarket and hypermarket chain for general foodstuffs and perishable goods. Online order service available.

Hipercor: Supermarket chain with foodstuffs, household goods, clothes, electrical appliances, books and accessories.

Lidl: Discount supermarket chain for household goods and foodstuffs including frozen foods, alcohol, bread and a limited range of fresh fruit and vegetables. Many economy brands in stock. Customers can arrange to receive a list of weekly offers via email.

Makro: Wholesalers in food products and supplies for restaurateurs, hoteliers, retailers, food retailers and other large consumers.

Masymas: Supermarket chain with stores in seven regions of Spain. General food.

Mercadona: Spain’s largest supermarket operator. Stores on mainland Spain as well as the Canary and Balearic islands. The Mercadona store card allows consumers to spread out their shopping payments. Online shopping is also available.

Simply Market: Supermarket, part of the Musgrave group that also owns Dialprix, Cash & Carry Dialsur, and Dicost.

SuperSol: Chain of supermarkets and hypermarkets operating on mainland Spain, part of the DinoSol group that also owns the chain of HiperDino supermarkets in the Canary Islands. Reasonably priced foodstuffs are on sale.

Furniture and Appliance shops

Conforama: For a full range of household furnishings, computer and audiovisual equipment, kitchen appliances and electrical goods. Conforama offers customers a “buy now, pay later” option as well as a loyalty card Tarjeta Conforama. The company has 16 stores on mainland Spain and Majorca.

Esil de Alba: Kitchens, bathrooms, home decorations and furniture are available from these design specialists, with several stores in the Madrid area.

Euronics: Electrical equipment specialists with 800 stores across Spain. For televisions, DVD players, PCs, air conditioning units, cameras and mobile phones.

IKEA: Indoor and outdoor furniture, sofas, dining tables and chairs, book shelves, futons, kitchens and storage containers. With branches throughout mainland Spain, the Canary and Balearic islands.

Tienda Azul: Online sales of electrical and domestic appliances such as dishwashers, fridges, kettles and washing machines, as well as home furnishings. Delivery service is available throughout Spain.

Zara Home: High-end furnishings, bedding and home decorations

Building Material, Hardware and DIY

AKI: For DIY, garden and interior decorating equipment and advice. Customers registering with the store, online, are eligible to win prizes and promotions on products. There are numerous stores located around Spain.

Bauhaus: DIY Superstore for electric tools and machinery, bathrooms, wood flooring, lighting and garden equipment. The Tarjeta Bauhaus is available for regular shoppers and offers a percentage discount on all purchases. Stores are located in Barcelona, Gavá, Girona, Tarragona and Málaga.

Brico King: Specialists in wood flooring, kitchens, and bathrooms, flat pack furniture and garden equipment. Home delivery service and wood cutting available. There are over 20 stores situated around Spain.

Leroy Merlin: Large hardware superstore chain with branches all over mainland Spain, the Balearic and Canary Islands. For tools, electrical equipment, paint, wood, plumbing supplies, bathrooms, kitchens, building equipment and lighting. Many stores also have a café and children’s play area.

Office Supplies and Stationery

Alravasa: For office furniture, filing systems and designs to fill office space. There are stores in Barcelona and Madrid.

El Corte Ingles: Major Spanish department store chain with a good selection of stationery and office supplies. These include palm tops, multimedia devices, school stationery and office lighting. Store card available offering discounts to regular shoppers. Purchases may be made online.

OFI Precios: Office furniture and lighting suppliers with stores located all over northern Spain, as well as Salamanca and Valencia. Ergonomic equipment is also stocked. Free catalogues can be ordered from the website.

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Building and contents (continente y contenido) insurance is essential to the home owner in Spain. Contents insurance (contenido) is also recommended when renting a property in Spain. Insurers offer a range of covers to suit the specific requirements of this market.

Policy options include:

  • Standard comprehensive policies with public liability insurance (also known as liability to third parties)
  • Accidental damage cover and “All Risks” outside the home
  • Liability cover for dangerous dogs, cover for non-dangerous dogs is automatically included
  • Property Owners Liability (landlords) for rented accommodation
  • Increased limits for liability cover

Household insurance (seguro del hogar) in Spain generally includes the building, its contents and third party liability. Insurers do not have to be based in Spain and many insurers outside the country offer insurance policies on properties in Spain. Many of them, even Spanish-based ones, are able to provide insurance policies written in English.

Building’s Insurance (continente)

The building sum insured should represent the rebuilding value for the property and not the market value. Rebuilding costs have risen dramatically in Spain over recent years; it is important that the rebuilding sum insured is realistic or any claim may be reduced for underinsurance. As a rough guide the rebuilding sum insured should be about €1,500 per square metre of a constructed property.

Inflation is accommodated by index linking which covers standard inflationary increases. This is reviewed automatically annually by insurers. Market forces can cause variations locally and the insured should request advice if unsure that the sum insured is adequate. Generally, standard policies do not have any excess although a reduction in the premium can be obtained if an excess is taken.

If the owner has a mortgage on the property, the bank will insist on building insurance with a clause on the policy noting their interest.

Contents Insurance  (contenido)

Home insurance policies in Spain are generally on a “new for old” basis (this means that in the event of a claim insurers will settle the claim based on the value of a similar but new item to the one lost or damaged). It is therefore important that the contents sum insured reflects the replacement value.

In the UK bathroom and kitchen fitments are usually covered under the buildings section of a policy. In Spain this is not always the case and the value often has to be included under the contents sum insured.

Holiday Lettings

The owner of a property that is rented out as holiday accommodation must make sure that the insurers are aware, and check that they have have adequate public liability cover as a landlord. Liability limits of Spanish insurers tend to be fairly low, although some Spanish insurers do offer higher limits and this should be checked with the adviser or insurer.

If the property is a holiday home insurers must be advised of the periods of non-occupancy.

Note: People who live in communities must be aware that their community policy may not  provide cover in the event of damage to the buildings. Advice on this point should be sought from an insurance adviser.

Making a Claim

Claims must be reported to the insurers or insurance adviser as soon as possible. Policies usually have a time limit for claims of seven days (check on the policy). Contact the advisor or insurer by telephone, fax, letter or email. Although it is written in the policy that claims must be reported within seven days, if there are circumstances which prevent the client from doing this, then insurers will normally take this into account when dealing with the claim.

In the case of a robbery, malicious damage or arson a police report (denuncia) must be obtained and sent to the insurer with the claim.

Information provided by Neil Rowley ACII, Chartered Insurance Broker of Neil Rowley Insurance Edificio Minaco 6H, Avenida Alejandro Rossello 15, 07002 Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain Tel: + 34 971720807 / Fax: + 34 971717078 / e-mail / Website Copyright © Neil Rowley, Neil Rowley Insurance All Rights Reserved

Management of household waste and recycling in Spain is under the responsibility of the municipalities.

Refuse collection varies depending on region, and type of area. The bins should often be put out at specific times. The town hall can provide information on this.

The waste collection is paid for annually through taxes.

General Household Waste

Residual waste is any non-recyclable, non-hazardous, household waste. The colour of the bin depends on the region, but is normally grey.


Products to recycle should be brought to a recycle point (punto limpio), where containers in several colours are located. Each colour is associated with the type of material.

Organic waste should be put in the brown bin, where available.

Glass should be recycled in the green bottle bank, without lids or caps and properly emptied.

Plastic bottles, metal packaging and drinks cartons should be recycled in the yellow bin.

Paper (papel) and cardboard should be recycled in the blue bin.

Textiles should be left in a clothing bank, if there is one. Associations accept used clothes, and kennels and catteries appreciate donations of towels and sheets.

Dangerous or Toxic Products

Medication should be returned to a pharmacy.

Batteries should be left in collection bins for this purpose.

Small hazardous waste or chemical waste such as detergents, paint, varnish, oil, cosmetics, cartridges and toners should be taken to a recycling centre (eco-parque). In some areas, there are red bins for hazardous waste.

In some peripheral neighbourhoods, there is a scheduled mobile collection point (Ecoparque Móvil) service.

Disposing of large objects

Bulky objects can be brought to a recycling centre. There might also be a pickup service for these objects – the local town hall can advise on this.

Electrical and electronic appliances, as well as renovation and construction waste should be brought to a recycling centre.

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