Start a business in Spain

Foreigners wishing to start a business in Spain must apply for a residence and self-employed work permit. If they have permanent residence there will be no need to do so and you will only have to comply with the same requirements that are required for natural Spaniards.

If you are thinking of joining the business market as a self-employed person or creating your own company, we share with you some tips and requirements to take into account when creating a company in Spain. 

All along this article, we will cover the following topics:

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Requirements to start a business if you are a non eu citizen.

First of all, obviously not be a citizen of an EU state, European Economic Area or Switzerland, as the relevant regime would apply.

  • Not having a criminal record in Spain in any of the crimes covered by the Spanish code, as well as in the other countries in which the interested party has resided.
  • Not being in an irregular situation in the country. Therefore, not to have the entry prohibited, not to appear as rejectable in Spain or any of the territories with which there are agreements in this area, as well as to be outside the period of commitment not to return to Spain after returning voluntarily to the country of origin.
  • Have the necessary professional qualifications or accredited experience to carry out your specific activity, as well as, where appropriate, professional membership.
  • Be able to justify the ability to cover the investment planned for the implementation of the project, as well as express whether there is the possibility of generating new jobs in Spain.
  • Proof that you have the economic capacity to support yourself as well as the expenses deducted from the development of your professional activity.
  • Comply with current regulations regarding the specific requirements for each type of business.

Non-EU immigrants intending to set up and start up a business in Spain may obtain a visa allowing them to stay in Spain for a maximum period of one year, provided that the reason for this stay is to manage the procedures prior to setting up a business and developing an entrepreneurial activity. An entrepreneurial activity will be understood to be one that is of an innovative nature with special interest for Spain and for this purpose has a favourable report from the Commercial Office where the investor submits the visa application.

Requirements to start a business if you are a EU citizen.

Fortunately for you, if it is your case, the current agreements between the EU member countries and the territories included in the European Economic Area, state that:

  • Every EU citizen has the right to: set up his or her own business (even as sole proprietor) in any EU country (or Iceland, Norway or Liechtenstein).
  • Create a branch or subsidiary of an existing company that has its registered office in the EU and is already registered in an EU country.

how to start a business in spain as an expat

Once it is clear to us that we meet the requirements mentioned in the previous section, the immigrant intending to create a company in Spain will have to present the following documentation, attaching the original copy of each procedure translated into Spanish or co-official language of the territory, at the Spanish Consular Office corresponding to his country of residence.

1. Printed in duplicate of application EX-07, correctly completed and signed.

2. Complete copy of the valid passport or travel document with a minimum validity of four months.

3. In the case of creating a company whose activity is of a retail commercial nature, in a permanent location with a surface area equal to or less than 300 square meters, you must present the declaration of responsibility or previous communication, as well as the proof of payment of the corresponding tax. More information about its regulation, here.

4. In the rest of the activities not included in the previous epigraph, it will be necessary to accredit the list of authorisations and/or licences required to start the activity, indicating the state of the procedures for its attainment, including, if there are any, certifications of application to bodies.

5. Proof of labour qualification and professional qualification, legally required for the exercise of the profession.

6. Demonstrate own investment capacity to face the project or economic guarantee by a financial institution or similar.

7. Business plan that includes the nature of the company, characteristics, sources of financing, capacity to generate employment, projection of the activity and, in short, viability of the project.

8. Payment of residence and work fees: from the moment of validation of the application process, to be paid in a period of 10 working days:

  • Form 790 code 052, section 2.1 for the initial temporary residence authorisation. It costs around 10’50 euros.
  • Form 790 Code 062, filling in section 1.5 in reference to “self-employed work authorisations”: 195.88 euros.

9. Accreditation demonstrating the nullity of criminal records in the countries of residence of the last five years, issued by institutional bodies of these territories.

10. Medical certificate.

11. Proof of having paid the 60 euro visa fee.

Foreign companies opening up a branch or subsidiary in Spain

If you have your own company in your country of residence, but are looking to set up a branch or subsidiary in Spain, you will have to follow a different process.

When processing your application, you must provide a series of documents, including the following:

  • A copy of the main company’s certificate of incorporation and certificate of good standing
  • Notarized power of attorney
  • Spanish tax identification number (NIE)
  • A member of staff at the Spanish branch to be a resident in Spain, who will agree to be liable for any company debts and tax payments
  • While additional branches and subsidiaries don’t need to file accounts on the business register, they must pay income tax and submit quarterly VAT returns through their NIE number.

Some banks and business advisory companies will offer special packages to help you set up the particulars of opening a new branch in Spain.

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