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7 Truths About Schools in Spain : State Pre-School

spain education

When we talk to families who are relocating, we advise them to research schools in Spain, before looking for property. Like in many countries, state schools have catchment areas. If you are deciding whether to enrol your children in Spanish State Pre-School, the following facts will help you make your decision.


moving to spain


Pre-school in Spain, known as Educación Infantíl, is for children aged 3 to 6 years.


moving to spain Pre-school, educación infantíl,  is a non-compulsory option. Children are not obliged to start school in Spain until they are 6 years old. It is, however, in my opinion, a fundamental part of their education.


moving to spain

In some regions of Spain, children are taught in the regional language ie. Catalán, Valenciano, Basque… This is a steep learning curve for many non-Spanish children. It is a fantastic opportunity but is it something you think your children can cope with?


moving to spain with childrenChildren start pre-school, in the year that they turn 3 years old. This means that some children are as young as 2 when they start. ie. If their 3rd birthday is in late September, October, November or December, they start pre-school in the September of that year.

moving to spain with children

No rigid target are set in pre-school, educación infantíl. Children are introduced to the subject matters that they go on to study in Primaria. In many schools, there is a lot of project based work. They learn to interact with others and to adapt to routines.


moving to spainMost pre-schools offer an adaptation period at the start of term, for the 3-year-olds. It is not uncommon for school to last only 30 minutes on the first day. It then slowly builds up to the full day which, in most, but not all regions, is from 9am until 2pm. Be sure to check the timetables of the schools where you are considering moving to.


moving to spainI truly believe that starting a 3-year-old child, of any nationality, in a Spanish state school is a fantastic way for them to immerse into the local culture and language. I am not saying it will be easy, but I am saying it will be worth it in the long run.


For more articles and stories about schools in Spain, read the posts in our “Education” category.

My recently publish book covers education in more detail, if you click the image below you can have a look inside and read the reviews …

moving abroad with children


How Not Using a Currency Transfer Company Can Be Losing You Money!

I am continually surprised how many people, moving to Spain, tell me they haven’t even considered using the services offered by a currency transfer company.

It seems to me that too many people believe that their UK bank will give them the best available exchange rate.

Will they?

I don’t know for certain, but I seriously doubt it.

  • If your bank offers you the best exchange rate, what charges are incurred?
  • If your bank advertises a “no charge on foreign currency transfers” service, what exchange rates do they offer?

It is vital that you ask these questions before deciding whose services to use.

The fact is, people are often so busy trying to save pennies (or centimos 😉 ) on smaller transactions that they are losing pounds (or euros) on others. This is particularly true when buying property.

I really feel that anyone planning to move to Spain or buy property in Spain should get a quote from at least one Currency Transfer Company.

Are you planning to buy a property in Spain?

Are you planning to move to Spain?

Do you live in Spain and regularly transfer funds from your UK account?

Do you live in Spain and use a UK bank card for purchases or to withdraw cash?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, you may get a shock when you realise how much money you have “given away”.

Don’t dwell on the past, take action now and improve your future.


The following infographic demonstrates how interest rate changes can affect relative costs between Sterling and Euros when living in Spain or buying property in Spain. The rates used in this example are quite different, but it will serve to highlight my point.

In future monthly posts, we will publish current comparative prices, based on actually daily rates.

For this example, we are showing you the comparative cost of items in Spain, when the UK exchange rate changes from 1.1€ to 1.4€ to the pound …

currency transfer infographic


A currency transfer company can save you a lot of money. They watch the rates and can guide you as to when is the best time to transfer funds.

If you’d like details of companies we recommend, simply Contact Us


A Legal American in Spain : Fred’s Residency Story.

How easy is it for an American in Spain to get residency? It can’t be that difficult can it? Surely, the Spanish government want to welcome wealthy non-EU citizens with open arms, don’t they?

Erm, yes they do, but only if they spend over half a million euros in property or invest big bucks in creating new businesses.

There are other ways, such as Pareja de hecho, marrying a Spaniard or being related to an EU national who has residency in Spain.

Sounds complicated? We’ve only just begun. I’ll pass you over to Arpy to share her adventure of legalising her husband, Fred, an American in Spain…



It’s been a long journey but here we are at last – my American husband Fred outside Malaga’s Comisaría de Policia with his shiny new Tarjeta de Residencía. For the next five years, he can whip this credit-card-size permit out of his wallet on demand or even just to show off, in shops, bars, cars and oficinas of this and that. 

Having arrived in Spain in 2003, we’d renewed the Residencía once already in Granada. But we’d moved house, then city, and never got the letter telling us we could pick up the card, so we lost track of the whole procedure.

Determined to get it right this time, our first move was to consult the oracle – Lisa Sadleir of Move to Malaga. She’s always generous with her time and her advice, and always steers us in the right direction. A blog on her Move to Malaga website has the details: Residency for Non-EU Spouse in Spain 

As you’ll see from the list on that blog, it took us some weeks to collect all the paperwork we needed, including but not confined to:

  • Visiting Bank to verify Fred’s UK pension and get signed copies of his bank account
  • Visiting our medical centre to get signed document that Fred is entitled to state medical care (courtesy of another little card from the Junta de Andalucía).
  • Visiting our landlord to get a signed document that we do indeed rent an apartment in the building he owns.
  • Visiting our local ayuntamiento (Town Hall) to get a signed document that we are indeed resident in Málaga (This is the Empadronamiento).
  • Visiting photographer for new photos right-sized for the Tarjeta.
  • Visiting copy shop to get every single page of Fred’s U.S. passport copied – even blank pages. This is important, the photo page alone is not enough.
  • Visiting U.S. Consulate in Fuengirola to try and get verification that we were married (in the States in 1992) and are still married.

The marriage part was best of all; it seems that our original marriage certificate, issued by a tiny office in Pennsylvania before our civil ceremony, wouldn’t do at all. (That was on our first visit to Immigration)

An American in Spain

Fred with the magical little card 🙂

Admittedly, the certificate looks like a supermarket discount coupon, but that wasn’t the problem. It wasn’t up to date. Why, we could have got divorced, and now my 70+ year-old ex-husband and I are just pretending to be married so that he can stay in the country! Putting it right involved:

  • contacting the Sheriff’s Office in the small town where the certificate was issued and asking a mystified official for verification.
  • Being told that the office couldn’t issue verification that we were still married because they didn’t know if we were. (Fair enough). They could only issue a note that said they hadn’t received a divorce petition.
  • Receiving the note and returning to Immigration.  No, this won’t do at all. We need something called an Apostille, for the marriage certificate and the bits of paper that say we don’t appear to be divorced.
  • Sending Fred’s sister, who still lives in Pennsylvania, to pick up the Apostilles in person and post them to us, certified, registered and for all I know, blessed.

The Apostilles arrive, each with an impressive gold seal like a Christmas chocolate coin. We return to immigration with our not quite twelve Apostilles. But this won’t do at all. We need to get each bit of paper and Apostille translated into Spanish. And not by just any old professional translator, but by a licensed ‘Traductor Jurada’. One document contains 20 words, eleven of which are our names and the US issuing judge’s name.

A couple of hundred euros and lots of email to-and-fro later, we return to Immigration. A nice lady goes through all our paperwork and bundles it up to be devoured by The System.

Weeks later we receive a letter notifying us to go to our local Comisaría and request the Residencía. We go to our local Ayuntamiento offices and ask where this is. When I go in there are three or four men with guns. They are very nice but don’t know why I am there. Finally, I understand that I’m in the wrong Comisaría – we have to go to the big yellow building beyond Corte Inglés.

The first time, we got to the Comisaría at 1.00 pm. By the time we got to the front of the line, they were closed. The second time, waving a letter that seemed to say the permit was ready to collect, we were ushered through many marble halls to a little office. Here, another nice lady hammered away at a keyboard for seven minutes, then told us to come back in one month.  I (mis)understood that they would send us a letter to let us know. Lisa knew better: “I wouldn’t wait,” she said. “Just go down there and ask for it.”

And Lisa was right. On this, our third pilgrimage, we were shown through a different entrance and waited at a big reception desk. We’d dressed up a bit, as we thought there might be a little ceremony…maybe cava and cake…a few shouts of “Olé”, and photos with the nice lady. Instead, she reached into a box at her side and handed over the card with just a hint of a smile. We signed and that was it.

Over our victory coffee and croissants, we looked again at the precious card. Fred’s face glows white against a white background, giving him a distinct halo. Yes, you might need the patience of a saint to achieve this coveted status, but if you do it the Lisa way, the road to residency is a lot less rocky.

Thanks to Fred and Arpy for sharing their story. As we always say “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” You just need to buckle in and get ready for the ride.

For more details and advice on moving to Spain: READ MORE HERE

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12 Common Myths: Family Law for Expats

Living abroad is not always easy. No matter where we live, we have to prepare for and think about many “what if” situations.

I’m not one to dwell on negative matters, one of my favourite expressions is:

family law for expats

But sometimes a little information and knowing who to turn to when the time comes is always reassuring.

On a recent visit to London, I met a very nice lady called Lucy, one of the partners at The International Family Law Group LLP. Lucy gave a short talk to a group of people, thinking about moving abroad. What she covered in those few minutes prompted me to speak to her and to share some of the information with you…

Picture 179

The freedom to live and work abroad often leads to people from different countries falling in love. But what happens if your relationship goes wrong?

There are many myths about what someone can and can’t do legally and what is right and wrong.

Wherever you are in your journey, whether you are moving abroad or already living there let us smash those myths and equip you with all you need to know.

Common Myths:  Family Law for Expats

Like all myths, they can lull people unto a false sense of security or cause people to believe they have no options – when usually they do. Remember this last point as you read on!

  1. I have to divorce in the Country where we married
  2. English Law will apply wherever we live in the World
  3. All marriages are legal and recognised in any country
  4. We are “Common Law” husband and wife so have the same rights as legally married couples
  5. I am allowed to take the children back to my home country if my relationship breaks down
  6. My inheritance, pensions and pre-marriage assets won’t be shared upon divorce
  7. England cannot make orders against foreign held assets
  8. If I divorce abroad and a financial order is made I will definitely be stuck with it
  9. Our property regime agreement or pre-nuptial agreement is binding worldwide
  10. I don’t have to pay my ex-spouse maintenance and if I do it is automatically time limited
  11. Child Maintenance is only ever a relatively simple calculation based on a percentage of my income and will only ever be ordered in the place the children reside.
  12. Any lawyer can do family Law with international aspects 


We will cover each of the above issues in future articles. Ensure you have subscribed for updates to be informed of new information as it is published!

Subscribe to updates as they are published!

Why visit an International Family Law Specialist and why would I want to speak to an English family Lawyer if I live in Spain?

International family law is not something to learn on the job. Fast decisions often need to be made about where best to issue proceedings and tactics generally. Lawyers don’t have time to go to books to check the law!

It remains a shocking fact that there remains a lack of knowledge amongst many family lawyers about international aspects of family law.  Many don’t even question when they meet clients with any English connection whether it is best to issue in Spain or England. Without knowing your rights and options, you can sadly lose out very badly by using a country to determine finances upon divorce which is less favourable to your position. There are huge disparities between the orders made upon separation or divorce in Spain compared to England. You, therefore, need advice from both jurisdictions to make the choice best for you.

Not all lawyers are the same! Using a specialist firm like ours will save you potentially a lot of money and sometimes even mean the difference between seeing your children regularly and not seeing them so often.

At The international Family Law Group LLP we have specialist lawyers in all aspects of relationship law covering these and more topics (e.g. international adoption, surrogacy). We also very importantly have a broad network of family lawyers with international family law experience worldwide with whom we have usually worked before so we can direct you quickly get the advice you need.

Speed is often of the essence particularly with matters between Spain and England or other EU countries as whichever spouse starts divorce proceedings in their chosen EU country (except Norway where different rules apply) means this determines where the divorce proceedings will take place and provided they had the right to issue there that is the end of the matter. There is often therefore a race to issue in your favoured country first in time (and it can be a matter of only hours difference in some cases!).

Subscribe to updates as they are published!

Thanks, Lucy!

As I said earlier, we can’t always imagine this happening to us, or to our friends, but if it does, we now know who we can turn to.

If you have any specific questions for Lucy, feel free to add them in the comments below or, if you do not want your questions shown in public, email them and you will remain anonymous. Email your questions

Getting Married in Spain: Get your FREE Guide Now!

Are you thinking of getting married in Spain? Don’t miss this opportunity to download this FREE guide. It’s full of essential information you need. Download it now!

Over to Karen, founder of Weddings About Spain dot com, who will tell you everything you need to know about getting married in Spain…

P.S: You will find the link to download the guide at the end of the post.

getting married in Spain

Destination Wedding at stunning Spanish Hacienda, Cortijo Capellania between Yunquera and El Burgo in Malaga, Spain. Ruth Joy Photography

Getting married in Spain ticks an awful lot of boxes.

  • For one, the weather will undoubtedly be good especially if you aim for a date between April and November.
  • Two: The backdrop for photographs is quite simply breathtaking from beaches to mountains to blue skies.
  • Three: You can combine the whole thing with a honeymoon and holiday for guests. It’ll turn into a week-long party rather than a few hours.

The wedding industry in Spain is huge and extremely professional. There are wedding planners at every corner eager to help you with anything and everything from venues down to the shoes. Utilise them if you can it will make the whole journey simpler and easier and less stressful.  They know their industry and although you may think it’ll be expensive, they can often make it more affordable in the long run just because of who they know and what they know.

[ctt title=”Spain is a great destination for getting married. FREE Guide to help you organise your big day! ” tweet=”Spain is a great destination for getting married: FREE Guide to help you organise your big day! via @familyinspain http://ctt.ec/UCac5+” coverup=”UCac5″]

If however you want to go it alone then my advice is to start with the venue.  There are hundreds of options available. Why not head inland and rent a beautiful and traditional Cortijo or villa. It could easily house some of your guests and all you need to do then is bring in the caterers and suppliers to you.  Failing that there are numerous beachside restaurants and hotels which cater for weddings. You just simply have to turn up!  Or there are people who hire marquees and there are chapels and even caves you can say your vows in.

Caterers, photographers, rings, outfits and transport – the Costa del Sol has an abundance of them all and you’ll just need to work your way through for information and quotes.

getting married in Spain

Destination Wedding at stunning Spanish Hacienda, Cortijo Capellania between Yunquera and El Burgo in Malaga, Spain. Ruth Joy Photography

When I got married last year my aim was to organise a big party without any pomp and ceremony. Budget was an issue, but I also wanted people to relax and enjoy themselves without the constraints of suits or seating plans.  I ploughed through contacts and compiled a list of options.  Always ask friends for contacts or ideas. Use forums too – first-hand recommendations are often the wisest choices.  You can easily ask for contacts via these two pages:

A quick trip to Gibraltar can sort all your legalities and this is probably the easiest option if you are a foreigner in Spain – far less paperwork and hassle and it is actually quite delightful to see couples in wedding outfits in the town celebrating afterwards or quite simply walking down to the street to the registry office, botanical gardens or to one of the hotels for their ceremony. 

All in all weddings abroad are becoming a hugely popular choice. Traditional or completely off the wall events can be recreated anywhere these days and because people will happily travel, there’s no excuse not to.

getting married in Spain

If you would like to sort your own wedding and need to know where to start, have a look at  www.weddingsaboutspain.com for a list of suppliers.

Meanwhile for more information on ‘How to Get Married in Spain’ you can download this FREE e-booklet via the link:  http://www.weddingsaboutspain.com/ebook/

Pets in Spain: Processionary Caterpillars and Poison Toads

Hazards For Pets in Spain

pets in spain

Processionary Caterpillars on our garden wall today … Eeek!


To be able to take good care of your pets in Spain, you need to be aware of potential dangers and hazards.

We are currently fighting a plague of processionary caterpillars that are invading our urbanisation and who seem to have taken a liking to our garden. Needless to say, we are keeping a tight control on Mika, our lovely German Shepherd.

Are you aware of the danger these little critters can cause?

The following information is taken from our book (Have a look inside here, on Amazon).

The information was provided by Rachel from Posh Pets. Please ensure you read it all and make sure you do not cause any unnecessary suffering to your pets in Spain. These are just two of the hazards you should be aware of when taking your pets to Spain.


Biting Insects, crawling critters these are essential things that you need to know about for you and your pets welfare

The Processionary Caterpillar

At the end of the winter when the weather is beginning to warm up, it is the time to warn pet owners of the dangers of the “candy floss” white nests that  appear rapidly in the fir trees above our heads!!

This is the nest of the PROCESSIONARY CATERPILLAR and they arrive in their thousands!! – They are dangerous to humans too but because dogs & cats are inquisitive & like to nosey about on the ground sniffing out what’s new – that is when pets get themselves into trouble.

The caterpillars get their name because they follow each other in a “procession” actually looking quite sweet, innocent and cute; they are dark brown in colour with white hair.  The caterpillars hatch from their nests and follow each other across a pathway or road making a definite line to their onward destination. It is at this point that we canines and felines wander up to the “little monsters” & have a good sniff to investigate the findings – & get into trouble.

If  your pet comes into contact with the caterpillars it is imperative that you wash well the area & get your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

The caterpillars are covered in thousands of tiny hairs which get hooked on the skin, mouth or nose – they imbed into pets and then literally “eat away on flesh”.

Avoid exercising pets in the pine forests until the end of April

The Poison Toad

If you notice your dog foaming at the mouth after messing with a toad, immediately rinse it out with water. If the dog eats the toad, you should probably get it to a vet or animal hospital right away. Here in Spain the giant toad can grow up to eight inches long and is very heavy. This toad is greenish-brown and covered with bumps. It has glands that can secrete a very toxic poison. The Giant toad is responsible for the death of many dogs. This toad will come into gardens and eat the dogs’ food. If the dog would grab the toad it would be immediately poisoned.

Pet owners might notice these signs: frothy salivation with vigorous head shaking, pawing at the mouth and continuous efforts to vomit, in coordination and staggering.

If you know of or strongly suspect toad poisoning, immediately rinse out your pet’s mouth with water before going to your veterinarian or an emergency clinic for treatment. Most toad poisonings occur in the evening or the night.

Unfortunately, there are no antidotes for toad venom intoxication, but many of these victims may be saved with symptomatic treatment, which reduces the absorption of toxin and controls the clinical signs of illness. Depending upon circumstances, your veterinarian may use a variety of drugs to control heart abnormalities, breathing problems and excitation of the central nervous system. The key to survival is rapid recognition of signs and prompt veterinary medical care.

move to spain

We would like to thank Rachel for contributing some essential information for anyone thinking of living with pets in Spain for our book: Moving to Spain with Children.

The other topics she covers are listed here:

  • Taking your Pets to Spain
  • An Essential Checklist for a safe journey with pets
  • Questions to Ask and Points to Consider
    Travel By Land
    Travel by Plane
  • Documentation Requirements EU Pet Passports
    Re-register Your Pet’s Microchip on Arrival
    Returning to the UK
  • Dangerous Dog License
    Update from May 2012 Dangerous Dogs
    Dangerous Dogs
    Dog Owner License Application
    Dog Registration
    Walking a Potentially Dangerous Dog
  • Hazards for Pets in Spain
    Leishmaniasis is a Serious Disease
    Vaccine Information
    Leishmaniasis Summary
    The Processionary Caterpillar
    The Poison Toad
    Tick Fever & Lymes Disease
    How will Ticks Affect my Pet?
    How do I Prevent my Pets from Getting Ticks?
    Are Ticks Dangerous to Humans?

Whether you are thinking about moving to Spain or are already living in Spain but still have lots of questions, have a look inside the book, there is plenty of information for everybody.

quiz about spain

CLICK HERE to take our fun Quiz about Spain

When Helping Families Move to Spain Sucks

helping families move to spain

Mum & Francesca

I love helping families move to Spain. Well, most of the time.

I am excited to be sharing a new post with you very soon, entitledWhy Living In Spain Is Great For Kids. I will be sharing comments made by many families who live or have lived in Spain. (Click the link to read the post now 😉  )

If you have read my book, (check it out on Amazon here), you will know that I do not believe in selling the dream. I educate and inform people. I want people to get it right and to enjoy family life in Spain as much as we do.

Anyone who moves to Spain with my assistance has very little, if anything, to worry about. I do not tell people what to think, I simply tell them the questions to ask themselves and guide them through the decision process.

There are very few more rewarding moments when than when families I’ve previously helped move to Spain, contact me out of the blue, to let me know how much they are enjoying living here.

However, there is a downside.

A downside that makes me feel like giving it all up.

Each time it happens, I question what I am doing. Do I want to continue?

So, when does helping families move to Spain suck?

Moving to SpainBasically, when they decide to go “home”.i.e. they pack up and leave Spain 🙁

It isn’t always a happy ending for all families who move to Spain. There are so many uncontrollable variables.

Thanks to some wonderful Family Life in Spain Facebook followers and some previous clients, I am going to share some stories with you about families who decided to pack up and leave Spain.

These stories are to hopefully make you think about your own situation before planning your move to Spain. Spain is a wonderful place to live. It is a great place to bring up children. But, it isn’t always easy. The more prepared you are, the more chance you have of success.

These are the questions I asked:

  • Please tell us a little bit about your family, including the age of your children
  • When did you move to Spain?
  • Why did you move to Spain?
  • When did you leave Spain?
  • What were your reasons for leaving Spain?
  • Did you enjoy your time in Spain? Please give reasons
  • What were your biggest challenges when living in Spain?
  • What do you wish you’d known before you made the move that you did not know beforehand?
  • If you had known that (stated in previous question) would you have canceled move to Spain?
  • What do you miss most  (if anything) about living in Spain?
  • Are you glad you tried living in Spain?
  • Anything else you would like to share …
family holidays in cadiz

Bike ride selfie with my kids!

I will share people’s stories with you and invite you, if you too have packed up and left Spain, to contact me if you would like to share your story.

I do love helping families move to Spain and I hope that our honesty and openness will benefit many more families in the future.

PS. If you have read my book, I’d love feedback and (cheeky request) a review on Amazon 🙂

EU Pet Travel Scheme: Changes from 29 December 2014

If you are planning to move to Spain and bring your pets, please ensure you read the latest updates to the EU Pet Travel Scheme.

move to spain with childrenIn our book about Moving to Spain with Children, thanks to Rachel at Posh Pets Spain, we included an important chapter about taking pets to Spain. We cover topics such as:

  • An Essential Checklist for a Safe Journey with Pets
  • Tips for Choosing a Reputable Pet Transport Company
  • Documentation Requirements for EU Pet Passports
  • Re-register Your Pets Microchip when you have Moved to Spain
  • Dangerous Dog License
  • Dog Owner License Application
  • Hazards for Pets in Spain

Since the publication in November, there has been an update to the EU Pet Travel Scheme.

Changes to the EU Pet Travel Scheme came into effect on 29 December 2014. The changes are mainly designed to strengthen enforcement across the EU, increase levels of compliance and improve the security and traceability of the pet passport.

The changes give effect to a new EU pet travel Regulation (576/2013).

NOTE: If you already have a passport for your pets, you do not need to get a new one!

The main requirements of the scheme will stay the same. All dogs, cats and ferrets travelling with their owner will still require:

  • microchipping
  • vaccination against rabies
  • a blood test 30 days after vaccination (if returning or travelling from an unlisted third country)
  • a pet passport issued by an authorised vet (or third country certificate issued by an official vet)
  • a waiting period after primary vaccination and prior to travel:
    – 21 days if travelling from another EU country or a listed third country
  • a waiting period following blood sampling
    – 3 months if travelling from for unlisted third countries
  • treatment against the EM tapeworm (dogs only)

There are exceptions to some of these preparations in certain circumstances. If you are planning to travel with your pet you must read the detailed guidance at: www.gov.uk/pet-travelinformation-for-pet-owners2

eu pet travel scheme

Our pet “Mika”

What’s Changing and What You Have to do:

The key changes affecting pet owners are outlined below:

1. A new pet passport

A new style pet passport will be introduced from 29 December 2014. However if you already have a passport for your pet you do not need to get a new one. Existing passports will remain valid for the lifetime of the pet (or until all the treatment spaces are filled).
The new style passport will include laminated strips designed to cover those pages with the pet’s details, microchip information and each rabies vaccination entry. This will help prevent anyone tampering with this information once it has been completed by a vet. The vet issuing the pet passport will also need to fill in their details on a new ‘Issuing of the passport’ page and must make sure that all their contact details are included when they certify vaccinations and treatments.
The UK pet passport will also now include a unique passport number printed on every page . These changes will improve the traceability and security of the pet passport and enable us to contact the vet who issued the passport if anything goes wrong.

2. The introduction of checks across the EU

If you travel with your pet in the EU you may be asked for your pet’s passport when entering other countries. This is because all EU countries are required to carry out some checks on pet movements within the EU. You must make sure that your pet is fully compliant with the rules of the EU pet travel scheme before you leave the UK. In particular, you must wait 21 days from the date of your pet’s primary rabies vaccination before you travel (the day of vaccination counts as day 0 not day 1). Your vet can advise you on this point. If you have a new style pet passport they will put a ‘valid from’ date in the primary vaccination entry; this will be the earliest date you can travel. All pets entering Britain on approved routes will continue to be checked by the carriers either prior to boarding (for rail or sea) or upon entry (air).

3. A new minimum age for rabies vaccination

From 29 December 2014 your pet must be at least 12 weeks old before you can get it vaccinated against rabies for the purposes of pet travel. These rules will be the same across the EU and help pet checkers carry out compliance checks. It will also prevent very young pets being moved across the EU.3

4. New rules for those travelling with more than five pets

If you have more than five pets and wish to travel with them within the EU and/or return to the UK (unless you are going to a show or competition) you will need to comply with additional rules.

These include:

  • travelling from a registered premises
  • using an authorised transporter and
  • registering the movement on the TRACES system

If you are travelling from outside the EU you will also need to enter through a Border Inspection Post.

Shows and Competitions:
If you are travelling with more than five pets (aged over six months) and can present written evidence that they are registered to attend a show, competition or sporting event (or training for such an event) you do not need to comply with these extra rules and can continue to travel under the EU pet travel scheme. The evidence you provide will need to show at least the name of the event, together with the address and date(s) it is taking place. You may also be asked to sign a declaration confirming that you are eligible to make use of this exemption. This requirement may change – we’re consulting on some of these details – so you should check the website for up to date information before you travel.

5. Requirements for pets entering the UK/EU
If you are entering the UK (or another EU country) and your journey began outside the EU you must sign a declaration confirming that you do not intend to sell or transfer ownership of your pet. The format of this declaration is outlined in Part 3 of Annex IV to Regulation 577/2013. If you are not able to accompany your pet then you (or a person you have authorised in writing) must travel within 5 days of your pet’s movement. This rule applies both to travel within the EU and for movements from outside the EU.

6. Clearer definition of cat, dog and ferret
The new EU Regulation specifically states that the only species of pet animal that can travel under the EU pet travel rules are:

  • Canis lupis familiaris – domestic dog
  • Felis silvestris catus – domestic cat
  • Mustela putorius furo – ferret

The reason for this change is to make sure that wild animals can’t be moved under rules designed for pet travel.4 This change will not affect the majority of pet owners. However, if your pet is a hybrid (such as a
Bengal or Savannah cat, or a Wolfdog) then you must seek advice from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency before you travel. They will advise you on the import requirements for your pet. See ‘Contact us’ below.

eu pet travel scheme

Mika in the campo


Don’t forget…
• Your pet must receive the correct treatments in the correct order. In particular, your pet must have been microchipped before it receives its rabies vaccination. If your pet was vaccinated before being microchipped then it will need to be re-vaccinated after the microchip is inserted.
• If you take your pet abroad it may be exposed to diseases which we do not have in the UK. We recommend you consult your vet about your pet’s health and fitness to travel before you take it abroad. Ask your vet for advice on the appropriate treatments for the part of the world you are travelling to.
• The pet travel rules apply to all dogs, cats and ferrets travelling with their owners (including assistance and guide dogs). You are responsible for ensuring your pet meets all the rules for entering the UK under the pet travel scheme. Make sure you have had the procedures carried out in the correct order and that your pet’s documentation is correctly completed. If you do not, your pet may not be able to enter the country or may have to be quarantined on arrival. This will mean delay and cost you money.
• If you are bringing a dog, cat or ferret into the UK in order to sell it or pass it to a new owner (e.g. for rehoming), you cannot travel under the pet travel scheme. Instead you must comply with the rules of the Balai Directive. Further information is available: www.defra.gov.uk/animal-trade/imports-non-eu/iins/live-animals/iins-other-animalsbalai/iin-bllv-5/
• Stringent penalties are in place for those that break the pet travel rules in order to bring animals into the UK illegally. Pets that are non-compliant pose a potentially serious risk to both animal and human health. Anyone with information relating to illegal activity should contact their local Trading Standards office.

For further information on any of the changes outlined above or for enquiries relating to pet travel, please contact the Pet Travel Scheme helpline:
• Telephone: 0370 241 1710
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm (closed on bank holidays)
• Email: pettravel@ahvla.gsi.gov.uk

This information was originally posted here.

Reproduced in the interest of our readers, with permission given here.

Videos about Moving to Spain with Children: The Eisen Family and Their 3 Young Daughters.

education in Spain

Spain is great for kids!

In addition to the publication of our book and our written interviews with families who have moved to Spain, we are excited to launch a new series of Videos about Moving to Spain with Children.

In these videos, we chat with parents who have made the move with their children and discuss the research they carried out, the research they wish they had carried out and much more.

The questions we will be talking about include:

Pre move …

  • General introduction to the interviewee:
  • Who you are? Where did you move from? Where have you moved to? How old are your children?
  • What were your main concerns / worries before moving to Spain?
  • What research did you carry out before deciding to move?

During the move and now …

  • Let’s talk about the experiences at school / nursery … How did you decide which school to send your children to?
  • Any tales / stories to share?
  • Any tips for other mums about selecting schools
  • Integration:
  • What steps have you taken? Has it been hard/easy?
  • General comments about the local people in the area you have moved to
  • How is your Spanish? What about your children? What are you doing about it?

Closing comments …

  • If you had the chance to do it again, would you do anything differently?
  • What advice would you give to anyone thinking of moving to Spain with children?

If you’d like to be interviewed, please contact Lisa on familylifeinspain@gmail.com.

Moving to Spain with children can be challenging, to say the least. I often say that the success of the relocation is determined by the children. When children are happy, their parents have more chance of being happy. Particularly when the children are very young.

Rebecca and Ben, originally from a tight-knit local community in East London,  recently made the move to Mijas with their three daughters, aged 18 months,  three and four years. Not surprisingly, the girls were their main concern.

How did it go? The following videos will give you a good idea …

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:


Have you grabbed your copy of our book  about Moving to Spain yet?

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Living in Barcelona with Children: An Interview with Justine Ancheta

living in barcelona

Justine and her family.


In a new series about moving to and living in Spain with children, we speak to families who have taken the step and moved their family abroad, to Spain. Today we speak to Justine Ancheta about living in Barcelona with children.

@FamilyInSpain interviews Justine about moving to and living in Barcelona with children…


General introduction. Who you are? Where did you move from? Where did you move to? Do you have children?

Hello! I’m Justine, and I’m a US citizen from California. I met my husband when I was living in Seville in 2003, which is where he is originally from. We got married in 2008 and lived together in Barcelona. Both of our children, ages 2 and 5, were born here in the city.

Book about Moving to Spain with ChildrenWhat were your main concerns / worries before moving to Spain?

I spoke Spanish very well. My worries began when I first got pregnant in Spain, thinking about giving birth in a Spanish hospital. I was concerned nobody would understand me culturally and emotionally, and I wouldn’t have anybody to help me raise my baby. Luckily, my parents and my husband’s parents were with us the first month, so we were able to get some help cooking and cleaning our home.

What research did you carry out before deciding to move?

Since my children were born in Barcelona, I knew a few expat mothers who had already been through the process of raising their children in a multilingual and multicultural environment. I asked lots of questions! I also joined a online group of parents in Barcelona called Barcelona Tots. It’s very active, and you can ask anything, such as language issues, recommendations for dentists, day excursions with the kids, etc. Just being able to find people online who have “been there, done that” was a great help. The Internet is truly a goldmine!

During the move and now …

Book about Moving to Spain with ChildrenLet’s talk about the experiences at school / nursery … How did you decide which school to send your children to? Any tales / stories to share? Any tips for other mums about selecting schools

When I first started to think about nursery for my daughter, I was very stressed out. The mentality of sending children to nursery here seems to be that nursery is not just a place where a caring guardian can watch your children while you work. Spanish people seem to truly treat it like school, and they often call it that — “cole”. They also feel that it’s very important that very young children socialise at an early age (such as 12 months old) because it’s good for them. I got lots of pressure and opinions about it.

I ended up deciding to put my daughter in an international, multilingual part-time playgroup when she was two years old. This was the best decision I made for my family. Not only did it ease me into the Spanish education system, but we also made some very valuable friendships with other families at the playgroup. These friends have been an expat support group. Any expat experience has its challenges, but when you’re an expat mother, it gets even more complicated. I especially need friends who completely understand my feelings of being in between two countries.

Integration: What steps have you taken? Has it been hard/easy? Any general comments about the people where you live?

To integrate into the Catalan culture, we decided to incorporate our children into the public education system. Our daughter goes to a concertada school (half-private, half-public). It’s much less expensive that private schooling of course, and also I think it’s healthier and easier that our children have friends in our neighborhood. They are also growing up trilingual, which is a huge plus. Luckily, we got our daughter into the school of our choice, and we couldn’t be happier. Our son will go there next year.

Getting to know Catalans has been a challenge. But I think it’s normal for any culture. When I was single and living in Seville, it was easier to make local friends, but I had the time, and my lifestyle was different. Now, I find myself trying to make friends with the mothers at school. Friendships take time. I don’t know if I’ll ever find a Catalan BFF, but just getting to know parents at school is a start!

In general, I find the Catalan people to be open to other people and cultures because there’s so much diversity. I find they’re often misunderstood by other Spaniards as being cold or lofty. That’s not my experience.

We don’t live in the center, so our neighborhood is family-oriented. We’ve also been lucky to have outstanding neighbors. This lovely elderly couple has watched my children while I ran important errands, one of them quite often. They’re practically family. They know how hard it is to take care of two little ones since essentially we don’t have any relatives nearby. They’re truly invaluable.

speaking SpanishHow is your Spanish? What are you doing about it?

I’ve been learning Spanish for over 20 years, and my husband is Spanish, so it’s advanced. I will never be a true bilingual. I would have a hard time writing an academic paper, but I can have a decent conversation in Spanish.

What do you do for a living? How do you support your family in Spain?

I’m teaching English at the moment. Most of the hours available for teaching are after school or weekends, and I value that time as family time.  Currently, I’m looking to expand my career into marketing, writing, and/or editing. So if you know of any opportunities, let me know!

To close …

If you had the chance to do it again, would you do anything differently?

I can’t think of anything that I could change. There are natural challenges of living abroad, but they were bound to happen. I’m happy where I’m at! I feel like I’ve learned and grown ever since living here.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of moving to Spain with children?

It’s a great opportunity to raise your child in a multilingual environment. Plus, it’s probably more acceptable to be out with your children late in the evening, which I think is great! The kids here seem healthy, happy, and safe.

About Justine:

A native Californian, Justine began her adventure as an exchange student in Seville, Spain. She realized her real adventure started when she came back as a resident and started raising a family in Barcelona. But she’s up to the challenge because she can’t get enough of this stunning city.

Don’t forget to check out Justine’s great  Blog: http://www.latitudefortyone.com

If you’d like to share YOUR STORY, please contact us .

All the information you need can be found in our newly published book, available here …


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