Since the ‘Barcelona International Welcome Desk’ was launched by Barcelona City Council on 22 November 2021, the service has worked non-stop to deal with requests for information and advice on various matters and procedures relating to arriving and staying in the city.
As of 31 October this year, the website had received almost 33,000 visits, leading to over 1,600 support actions.
Almost 600 people from 87 countries were attended to in the first eleven months of this municipal initiative aimed at international talent, the first of its kind in Spain. Most of them came from non-EU countries, such as the United States, Argentina, Colombia, Iran, India, Turkey or China, although the most represented country was Italy.
A pioneering service in Spain that provides personalised support
The Barcelona International Welcome Desk is a service that is unique in Spain and aims to facilitate the arrival of international talent in the city. Anyone wishing to access the service and make an appointment can do so from the Barcelona International Welcome website.
Although 85% of the people who have received assistance at the BIWD were already in Barcelona, under its help system anyone interested in using the service can make an appointment in advance, even before arriving in Barcelona. This means that users can receive personalised assistance by video conference from their countries of origin or residence before moving to Barcelona.
Furthermore, face-to-face appointments at the office in the MediaTIC building in the 22@ district, which is located at Carrer de Roc Boronat 117, are also available. This has been the chosen option for almost half the people served since the service first started.
There are three levels of remote and face-to-face personalised assistance:
- Basic and practical general information about living in Barcelona. Most of the requests for information made so far have related to procedures in connection with immigration and ID (Tax ID for foreign nationals, identity card for foreign nationals, etc.), access to housing (renting flats), how the healthcare system works, the education system, and other practical matters, such as how to start up a business or company, investment or work opportunities in the city, taxes, public transport and private vehicles.
- Carrying out urgent administrative procedures. The most requested type of assistance has been in relation to the procedures for registering in the Municipal Register and obtaining the idCAT digital certificate, as well as in relation to the registration of pets. Other interesting procedures being carried out with assistance from the service include those relating to economic activities and the enjoyment of the city’s cultural life, such as how to enjoy the ‘Gaudir Més’ discount and advantage programme, and applying for a library card for Barcelona’s public libraries.
- Expert advice in key areas such as tax and immigration which, at 60% and 40% respectively, have accounted for most of the assistance provided by the advisory services.
Assistance for people moving to Barcelona
As to the profile of the people assisted by the Barcelona International Welcome Desk in its first year of life, almost all of them (95%) have a degree. In addition, 4 out of every 5 users are in the 19-40 age bracket, and almost 3 out of 4 (79%) are men.
Furthermore, the main reasons for moving to Barcelona are: to work in a highly qualified job for a company based in Barcelona (22%), to start a business or activity in the city (17% ), to study for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree (22%), to live here as a digital nomad (9%), or to carry out research at a university or research centre (10%). There has been a sharp increase in this last profile in recent months.
Responding to a need of the ecosystem with the involvement of various stakeholders
The Barcelona International Welcome Desk meets the needs of both the city’s business and technological ecosystem and civil society.
In fact, Barcelona’s foreign community has kept growing, going up by 2.9% this past year and currently accounting for 22.4% of the city’s population. The fact that 40% of start-up founders in Barcelona were born outside the country is significant. In addition, the need to attract talent in key areas has been identified, particularly in the digital sector following announcements by large Barcelona-based companies with job vacancies.
The Barcelona International Welcome Desk is a municipal service involving several teams, such as the Citizen Help and Information Department and Barcelona City Council’s City Promotion Department, as well as Barcelona Activa.
Since it was first launched, the service has worked in partnership with the Spanish Government’s Regional Representation in Catalonia and the associations Barcelona Global and 22@Network Barcelona. In addition, it will soon be joined by other institutions with a key role in giving Barcelona visibility as an attractive city for international talent: ACCIÓ and the Mobile World Capital Foundation.