How foreigners can start a business in Spain

There are many benefits of setting up a company in Spain. Spain has a strong strategic location, with access across all the markets of the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, North Africa) as well as trade links to Latin America. If you are considering expanding your existing business into Spain, you can also take advantage of the existing trading links between Britain and Spain.

If you are a foreign business person considering expanding into Spain, it is crucial to be aware of the legal issues and requirements surrounding the business.

Here is a guide to setting up a business in Spain as a foreign national.

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What is required for foreign nationals to start a business in Spain?

Find out whether Spain is an ideal location for starting a business abroad.

The different types of commercial entities you may choose from.

The documents you will require to set up your business.

We answer common queries on starting a business in Spain as a foreigner.

Can foreign nationals start a business in Spain?

Yes, you can set up a business in Spain as a foreigner, regardless of whether you are an EU citizen or not. Spain is a country that is keen to attract foreign talent and is therefore a very popular choice for foreign nationals who wish to start a business abroad.

EU citizens have an advantage over citizen of non-EU countries as the trading agreements between 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 in any EU country (or Iceland, Norway or Liechtenstein). As well as having the right to set up a branch or subsidiary of an existing company that has its registered office in the EU.

Is Spain a good place to start a business?

Foreign nationals doing business in Spain experience a number of benefits, not the least is Spain’s perceived advantages among other European countries. There are many trading opportunities and also a relaxed business culture – Spain remains a popular location for setting up a business.

Spain is keen to welcome foreign talent and investment, and has an impressive infrastructure, with the most extensive high-speed rail network in the world.

Do you need a work permit before starting a business in Spain?

Non-EU citizens moving to Spain to start a business will need a valid work permit to do so. To get a work permit, you will need to apply to the Spanish embassy in your home country.

Scenic aerial view of the Agbar Tower in Barcelona

The requirements for a non-EU citizen

As a non-EU citizen, there are specific requirements in order to set up a business. First, you require proof that you don’t have a criminal record in Spain relating to any of the crimes covered by the Spanish Criminal code, or in any country in which you have previously resided. Proof is also required to establish that you are not prohibited from entering Spain.

Additionally, you should expect to provide proof of your professional qualifications or related experience that will enable you to carry out your project. Finally, you will also need demonstrate that you are capable of supporting yourself financially whilst setting up your business.

Finally, you will also need to show how your new business will generate new jobs in Spain.

For further information on how to set up a business in Spain please contact our Spanish lawyers for assistance today. You can also find out how our Spanish lawyers can help here.

Choosing a commercial entity in Spain

There is a range of options regarding the type of commercial entity you can set up. The options are:

  • Self-employed
  • Sole trader
  • Partnership
  • Limited liability company.

Find out more about the different commercial entities in Spain here.

What documentation is required to be provided by foreign nationals starting a business in Spain?

The steps you need to take are:

  • Obtaining a foreign national’s tax identification number - Número de Identidad de Extranjero (NIE)
  • Registering the company name with the Mercantile Registry - Registro Mercantil Central (RMC)
  • Obtaining a tax identification number - Certificado de Identificación Fiscal (CIF) - for the business
  • Opening a business bank account
  • Signing a deed of incorporation, if appropriate
  • Registering the company
  • Registering for Social Security

Read our additional information for setting up a business in Spain.

Should you seek assistance from a multijurisdictional law firm?

Seeking guidance from a multijurisdictional law firm with English-speaking lawyers is strongly recommended. You can have a clear explanation on the differences between the commercial law in Spain and that of your home country. This can be invaluable if you do not have Spanish as you will gain a clear understanding of the legal requirements necessary. You will also be provided with expert guidance through the process, including advice on choosing an appropriate commercial entity.

A cross-border law firm will assist you with preparing the required documents and will guide you on how to prevent your business registration from being rejected.

Contact Giambrone & Partners today to find out how we can help.

Frequently asked questions related to living in Spain

The requirements to obtain a Golden Visa for Spain?

To be eligible for a Spanish Golden Visa, you must make one of the following investments:

  • Purchase real estate in Spain worth at least €500,000. The real estate can be one single unit or several, with an overall worth of no less than €500,000.
  • Make an investment in the Spanish public debt of at least €2,000,000.
  • Buy shares in a company or make a deposit in a Spanish bank of at least €1,000,000.
  • Invest in a new business that will offer employment, contribute to scientific and/or technological innovation and have a socio-economic impact in the area where the business is established.

What documents do you have to submit for a long-term Spanish residency permit?

You need to provide the following documents:

  • Your current passport and residency permit
  • Proof of residence in Spain, such as a rental agreement
  • Medical certificate and health insurance
  • Proof of living in Spain for five years, such as payslips or tax returns.

What are the steps to buying a property in Spain as a foreign national?

Contact our Spanish real estate lawyers for assistance on buying a property. You can also read our guide to Spanish real estate here.

The benefits of working with Giambrone & Partners

Giambrone & Partners’ expert corporate and commercial lawyers in Spain have a wealth of experience in advising and assisting British businesses in setting up a range of company structures in Spain. Our lawyers can advise you on the best company structure for your business and explain all legal aspects you must consider in your own language. Our experienced commercial and international teams can provide all the advice and practical solutions you will need to succeed in your new venture.

Contact us today for our expert guidance.