Work Permit in Spain

It is essential to understand that working legally in Spain hinges on the possession of a valid work permit. According to Article 3.61 of the Spanish Law on Foreigners, all foreign nationals are required to obtain ‘the appropriate administrative authorization for work and residence.’ This unequivocally underscores the necessity of a work permit. Non-compliance with this requirement carries significant consequences, including serious penalties for both employees and employers.

On this comprehensive resource page, we provide a wealth of information regarding work permits in Spain, including essential details, eligibility criteria, and the application process. Join us as we navigate the intricacies of work permits and the legal framework surrounding them, ensuring you are well-informed and prepared.


It is a permit that must be granted by the Foreigners Office to non-EU citizens. It is essential, since any work activity carried out by a foreigner is penalized if he or she does not have this permit.


It is a permit that must be legitimized by the employer. The latter is responsible for taking the necessary steps, thus demonstrating his or her true interest in having the services of a foreign citizen.

It is also relevant to indicate that the duration of this permit is more than 90 days and less than five years. In this regard, the duration is structured as follows:

The permit, as such, lasts only one year (residence plus work, according to article 63.5 of the Immigration Regulations).
It is possible to request a renewal of this permit (article 72.1 of the Immigration Regulations).
It is possible to last up to five years with long-term residence (Article 32 of the Immigration Law and 147 of the Immigration Regulations).
In short, once you have obtained your permit, you must continue to apply for it in order to extend it. All these procedures must be carried out by the employer.

Who needs a work permit in Spain?

A work permit is mandatory for all non-EU foreigners, that is, all persons who are not nationals (or family members under the EU regime) of countries in the European Union, Switzerland or the so-called European Economic Area.

Not being a citizen of Spain, a country of the European Union or Switzerland.
Those who are not direct relatives (child, grandchild or spouse) of someone with Spanish, European Union or Swiss citizenship.
Therefore, it can be stated that almost all foreigners are required to have this procedure from the Spanish authority in order to carry out economic activities in Spain.


According to the Spanish Law on Immigration, it is not possible for a non-EU citizen to work in Spain without a work permit. Although it happens that foreign citizens have the same right to work, if they are not from the EU they need to ask for a permit. As indicated above, working without this permit entails fines both for employees and for those who pay for the services of foreigners.

Ultimately, it simply happens that any foreigner (non-EU) who works without this permit is in serious breach. He is considered to be acting illegally in Spain.

Types of Work Permits in Spain

The relevant regulations, which are called the Law on Foreigners, indicate everything about the case. In this regard, this legal text indicates that “foreigners exercise the rights recognized by this Law on an equal footing with Spaniards”. However, in the case of labor, a couple of different conditions are distinguished, which are detailed below


Due to international agreements such as the Schengen Area and others signed by Spain, citizens of European Union nations and Switzerland do not require a special work permit. However, it is obligatory for them to process certain documents.

The Certificate of Registration of Citizen of the Union.
Likewise, those who are family members of Spanish, European Union or Swiss citizens must process the Community Card (Residence Card of Family Member or Citizen of the Union).
According to article 15.8 of the Royal Decree 140/2007 it is interesting to mention that EU citizens who do not comply with the request for documentation mentioned above, expose themselves to serious financial penalties.


This is a permit in all matters of law. It is a permit requested by the employer, that is, a person or institution requests the endorsement of the Public Administration to have a non-EU citizen on its payroll. It is important to clarify this: legally, a person is not given permission to work, in fact, an employer is authorized to hire a non-EU foreigner. In addition, you must be at least 16 years old.

Applying for a Work Permit in Spain

The procedure for obtaining a work permit is carried out at the Foreigners Office of the province where the work is to be done. This request must be made by the company or employer of the foreigner, in other words, the foreigner from Spain cannot make this request on his own.


The truth is that there are several requirements and procedures that must be followed. In any case, it is necessary to clarify that Spanish labor law understands two conditions: self-employment and employment

When someone has his own profitable activity, without a relationship of dependence on an employer, it is said that he works as a self-employed person. On the other hand, all employees who have an employer fit into the subordinate account segment. It is important to clarify the differences between “self-employment” and “employment”. The reason for this is that the work permit we have detailed refers to those who are in a subordinate position.


Article 36.1 of the Spanish Immigration Law states that all work permits are granted together with residence. What does this mean? Well, that in order to obtain this authorization it is necessary to comply with requirements relating to both residence and work. In this regard, we make some clarifications.

Requirements related to residence

It is necessary to comply with certain provisions set forth in Article 64.2 of the Immigration Regulations. For example, the employee is required to apply for and obtain a work and residence visa, which can only be obtained once the employer has requested permission to hire him/her

1. Not being in Spain illegally

In this case there is a basic principle: the rule requires that the hiring is the reason why the residence is given and not the other way around. Therefore, the foreigner must be outside Spain at the time the employer applies for the work permit. Once that permit is obtained, then the employee can apply for residence and enter Spanish soil.

2. No criminal record in Spain

A requirement only if the employee is of criminal age. In fact, not only is it required that the employee has no criminal record in Spain, but also that he has no such record in his home country.

Not to appear as a person who can be rejected in the Spanish territory or with countries with an agreement
For example, if someone has been expelled from a nation in the Schengen area, then he or she cannot apply for this permit.

3. Pay the fee for processing the residence permit

The person to be employed must pay a total of two fees. One of them is the residence authorization and the other corresponds to various procedures. The approximate amount is about 11 euros.

We have just mentioned the requirements concerning the employee, the person who is moving from abroad to Spain. Now, it is time to describe the requirements of the job.


It is necessary that the employment meet certain characteristics, which are described in Article 64.3 of the regulations concerning foreigners in Spain. These requirements cover the working conditions, the employer and the legal status of the foreign worker.

1. National employment situation

It is a somewhat complex requirement. Basically, it happens that the Spanish autonomous communities indicate which are the professions, trades or labor requirements that are more complicated to obtain on Spanish soil. In this situation, in order to apply for a work permit, the employer must prove that he or she is hiring a foreigner, since in Spain it is complicated to obtain certain types of employees.

2. Employment contract with guarantee of continued activity

The work permit initially lasts 1 year. A priori the work contract is required to be at least 1 year. However, ideally it should be indefinite and then the corresponding extensions should be requested.

3. Minimum Labor Conditions

Employment must be fair, in accordance with labor laws. Verbally, it is required that it at least covers the amount of the Spanish minimum wage. Likewise, it must be adapted to the collective bargaining agreement and the facilities must comply with the health requirements requested for these cases.

As we can see, not any employer can hire non-EU foreigners. To a large extent, this is a provision to prevent the bringing in of foreigners under illegal or exploitative labor conditions.

Employer-related requirements

Every employer must be registered with the General Treasury of Social Security. That way, he will have the respective code to be able to contribute. This is necessary because several taxes must be paid for the work permit. You must also comply with the following list of requirements:

  • You must be fully solvent with respect to all tax issues.
  • You must have the certificate of the Tax Agency and the General Treasury of Social Security.
  • Demonstrate that you have sufficient economic means to pay the salaries of the foreigner you are requesting permission to hire.
  • Demonstrate that your company has projections to remain solvent, without going bankrupt, during the time it hires the foreigner.
  • To have a minimum average of profits. For this purpose, the Public Indicator of Multiple Effect Income (IPREM) is used as a reference, which indicates a minimum amount of 534.84 euros per month.
  • All employers must pay a fee for employees under their employ. If the amount paid to a worker is less than 2 minimum wages, this rate corresponds to 199.82 euros. On the other hand, if the salary is higher than 2 minimum salaries, then it is equivalent to 399.67 Euros.

The above are the requirements for the employer. It is necessary to know them, since a foreigner should not accept any job offer from an employer who does not comply with the list described above.

Procedure for obtaining a work visa in Spain

Once all of the above (residence, meeting the requirements of the job and the requirements of the employer) are fulfilled, it is now time to process the work visa. To do so, the following stages must be fulfilled


Apply at the foreigner’s office of the Autonomous Community where you will be working. The application is made by the employer and has a maximum period of three months to be approved.


Once the permit has been obtained, the employee remains outside of Spain until he or she receives such a permit. It is then that he makes the request for the visa before the Spanish embassy or consulate in his country of origin.

No criminal record in the country of origin

Present a medical certificate of health

Social Security affiliation as a foreign worker

This procedure must be done within a maximum of three months after the employee enters Spain.


This whole procedure takes place when the employee receives the Foreigner’s Identity Card, which will be his official document on Spanish soil.

When is this card obtained? The protocol indicates that the card is sent to the employee one month after he/she has registered with Social Security.

Procedure for obtaining a work permit

We have already indicated that this permission is requested by the employer. Also, that it is processed in the Office of Foreigners of the corresponding Autonomous Community, what corresponds now is to know how to obtain the extensions.

This permit is issued for one year. However, it can be extended (almost everyone does) by following the steps below:

  • Demonstrating continuity of employment relationship with the employer.
  • Having worked at least six months during the initial leave year.
  • Having a contract in effect when requesting renewal.
    Being the holder of a Contributory or Non-Contributory Benefit.
    This renewal is made 60 days before the expiration of the Foreignner Identity Card. For this request, the printed form EX-03 is required.