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Despite a recent rise in European terror attacks and petty crime, safety in Spain is not a major concern for expats. Petty theft is mainly an issue in the urban centres, and criminals are known to specifically target foreigners. Terrorism in Spain is also a concern; the country has witnessed terrorist attacks from both regional and international terrorist groups.
Crime in Spain
Passport theft is becoming more common since demand from potential illegal immigrants has fuelled the creation of a lucrative passport black market. A stolen passport should immediately be reported to an expat's local embassy and a new passport should be issued.
Pickpocketing is also rife in some crowded areas of Madrid and Barcelona, so expats should keep valuables locked securely away. They should also be wary if someone bumps into them, as it may be a potential thief searching for valuables.
Expats are advised to take basic security precautions while in Spain, like locking doors, being mindful of possessions in crowded tourist areas, and avoiding deserted or dark streets when walking alone at night.
Terrorism in Spain
Though the assumed al-Qaeda terrorist attack on one of Madrid’s train stations in 2004 and the 2017 terror attack in Barcelona likely remain fresh in many minds, terrorism bares little concern from locals and other residents of Spain.
On the domestic front, the Euskadi ta Askatasuna - Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) is a long-standing indigenous separatist organisation fighting for the independence of the Basque region. This organisation has used explosive attacks to support its pursuit of autonomy. Despite a declaration of a "definitive cessation of armed activities" in 2011, the group has not officially disbanded. The police, nevertheless, made key arrests in 2015 that have significantly weakened the ranks of the group.
Protests in Spain
Spain has witnessed numerous protests and strikes in recent years. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Spanish cities in protest over welfare cuts and unemployment, amongst other grievances.
Violence has erupted on numerous occasions and protesters have vandalised public and private property. When they have occurred, protests have severely affected service delivery and transport. Expats in Spain need to keep abreast of developments and should avoid protest areas.
Emergency numbers in Spain
►For more on adjusting to life in Spain, see Culture Shock in Spain.
Are you an expat living in Spain?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Spain. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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