EU/EEA & Swiss citizens
If you are an EU citizen trying to find a job in Spain, congratulations, you’re already closer than most.
Since 2003 when Spain opened its borders to allow EU citizens to work in the country, EU nationals have not needed a work permit to work in Spain.
The only exception to this is Romanian citizens who require a work permit and a work contract before they can enter the country. These restrictions were put in place in July 2011 and will be effective until at least 31 December 2012.
If you are a citizen from the EU/EEA country or Switzerland you may enter Spain on a tourist visa and stay for up to three months. However if you plan to stay for more than three months you must register in person for a Residence Certificate at the Oficina de Extranjeros in the province in which you are residing. There you will be issued with an A4 printed Residence Certificate stating your name, address, nationality, Foreign Identity Number (Número de Identificación Extranjeros or NIE) together with the date of registration.
As an EU citizen with a valid residence card you need do nothing further until the card expires. At that point you must register at the Oficina de Extranjeros or designated police stations.
Family members who are non-EU citizens may reside in Spain for more than three months by obtaining a residency card for EU citizen family members from a Foreigners Office. This must be done within three months of arrival.
On 10 July 2012 the Spanish Government introduced new rules for EU/EEA and Swiss citizens applying for residency or stays of longer than three months. This includes the requirement to produce evidence of financial support for themselves and dependants. Applicants may also be required to provide proof of private or public healthcare insurance.
Working in Spain
You can enter Spain as a tourist and then register with the Spanish national employment office (Instituto Nacional de Empelo – INEM) to look for work. You will have 90 days to find employment. It is possible to obtain an extension after this or alternatively you can leave Spain and re-enter for a further 90 days.
When you secure employment you must produce your employment contract in order to apply for your residence card. Employed workers must also produce a declaration or certificate of employment (containing company details, tax identification and Employer’s Social Security Number).
Self-employed workers must produce evidence such as the following:
You must apply for registration in the Central Register of Foreigners to obtain the necessary Registration Certificate (Autorización de Residencia y Trabajo). Upon doing so you become entitled to the same legislation and equal citizens as Spanish citizens, including unemployment benefits should you be laid off.
The spouse or registered partner of an EU citizen is allowed to work in Spain and to do their children until they are 21 years old - the legal age to begin working in Spain is 16.
There are a handful of different live-work visas, issued for fixed periods of time or certain kinds of jobs, but you may have to trudge through several layers of bureaucracy to get all the right papers together.
You will need a visa to live, reside, work, study or research in Spain in addition to getting a work permit.
Starting your life with a job contract will make the visa process much easier, but given the competitive market and increasing number of foreigners scrapping for these jobs, getting hired from abroad can be tricky.
If you are already in Spain you may apply to the provincial office of the Ministry of Labour (Delegación Provincial del Ministerio de Trabajo). In many cases, your employer will guide you through the process or submit documentation on your behalf.
In order to complete your visa application at the consulate’s office in your country of origin, you may need a letter from the Immigration Office in Spain (Oficina de Extranjero/Oficina d’Estrangers; Avinguda Marquès de l’Argentera 4, www.map.es, 93 520 14 10) granting you and your company work permit authorisation.
The provincial labour offices (Direcciones Provinciales de Trabajo, Seguridad Social y Asuntos Sociales) will decide whether the work permit will be issued or not.
You must present the following documents when applying for a work permit:
Landing a job requires the Spanish Employment Institute (www.inem.es) to agree that this position cannot be filled by any other Spanish or EU citizen. If this isn’t the case your employer will have to be interviewed to make a claim for you to work for them.
It may help if the occupation is included in the National Occupation Shortage list (www.redtrafaja.es). Other requirements include:
Once a work permit has been granted you must present a visa application at the consular office in your country of residence, if you are not living in Spain. The following documents are required:
The application fee is usually €60 and is non-refundable and a decision will be made in between 1 – 3 months.
If you are successful in obtaining a visa and it is for longer than 6 months you must apply for a foreign identity card within one month of entering Spain. Additionally, the employer must register you with the Social Security system within 3 months of entering the country. You can renew residence and work permits provided employment is continuing and an application is made within 60 days of the expiry date.
After this, begins the process of applying for a work visa. Here are the things you will be required to submit to the Subdelegación del Gobierno of the city in which you will be living.
Highly Qualified Professionals
Applicable to workers who can prove a minimum of 5 years of professional experience in an activity that requires a higher education qualification (of at least 3 years duration). This is a temporary residence and work permit.
Employers must submit an application for an initial permit. If this is granted you must apply in person to the consular office in your country of residence, submitting the following documents:
You must enter Spain within 3 months of obtaining the visa and also be registered with the Spanish Social Security system. Once you have registered you must apply in person for a foreigner identity card at the immigration office or police station. Failing to do so can lead to deportation. The initial permit is granted for one year and can be renewed within 60 days of the permit expiry date. Once the renewal application is approved you must apply for a new foreigner ID card within one month.
Types of work permits
- Type A: for seasonal or time-limited work. This may entail a specific contract or a specific geographic area. Its maximum duration is nine months, including renewal
- Type b initial: It enables the foreigner to work in a specific profession, activity and geographic area for a maximum period of one year.
- Type B renewed: This is issued to those ‘b initial’ holders once it has expired. It entitles you to carry on various professions or activities within a maximum period of two years.
- Type C: issued to the ‘B renewed’ work permit holders once it has expired. This entitles the foreign worker to perform any professional activity throughout the Spanish territory.
- Type d initial: To carry on a specific activity for a maximum of one year. Spanish authorities could limit this to a specific geographic area.
- Type D renewed: This is issued to those ‘d initial’ holders once that permit has expired. It entitles him to perform various professional activities for a maximum period of two years. Spanish labour authorities could limit this to a specific geographic area and/or a specific activity.
- Type E work permit: This is issued to those holding the ‘D renewed’ work permit once it has expired. This entitles the foreign worker to perform any professional activity throughout the Spanish territory for a maximum period of three years.
Either employed or self-employed
- Type F work permit: To perform professional activities within Spanish borders, provided their daily return to the foreign borders where they normally reside. This is issued for a maximum period of five years, after that it may be renewed.
- Permanent work permit: It enables the foreign worker to perform any professional activity where s/he has the qualification required. Type C or E work permit holders may obtain this permit once theirs has expired. It is mandatory to renew this work permit every five years.
- Extraordinary work permit: this is issued to non-EU foreign citizens who have helped Spanish economic and cultural progress. It enables the foreign worker to perform any professional activity throughout the Spanish territory where s/he has the qualification required. It must be renewed every five years.
Visit Spain’s Ministry of Labour website at www.mtas.es just in case these rules change. On the website you can also find out about registering professionals in Spain.
Everyone else, roll up your sleeves. This is where the cat and mouse game begins and the rubberstamp collecting can get complicated.
First, you’ll need to decide on the most appropriate visa for you. The broad categories include student, residency and a combined work and residency visa.
There are also visas for family members, family reunification, retired persons, self-employment and investors.
In all cases, though, you’ll want to coordinate with the local Spanish consulate in your home country, which will act as the middleman for all visa-related matters.
Other things to keep in mind:
There are a few types of residence visa that allow you to live in Spain, but not to work or conduct ‘lucrative activities’ here. These visas include:
Temporary residence card
Initially granted for 1 year but can be renewed for an additional 2 years. Upon this expiry you may apply for a permanent residency visa, which is renewed every 5 years.
For this, you’ll need medical and criminal record certificates, documents showing financial status and a passport valid for at least one year. Plus, you may need to prove family ties to someone already living in Spain.
If you’ve been resident in Spain for one year and have your residency renewed for another 12 months you can make moves to ‘sponsor’ family members. Visa applications can be submitted for a spouse, unmarried children under 18 and parents (either the resident’s or the spouse’s) if they are dependants or their stay can be otherwise justified. The foreigner ‘sponsoring’ the family members must get approval from the Delegación or Subdelegación del Gobierno. Copies of this authorisation and the sponsoring resident’s passport and Empadronamiento, the piece of paper that lists their residency in the Ajuntament’s books along with certified birth and marriage certificates and proof of funds, may also be needed.
If you’re coming to Spain for the purpose of study, training or research, you can apply for a student visa. You can simultaneously request visas for your spouse or any children under 18 for the duration of your studies. Among the standard stack of documents, expect to show your admission or pre-registration letter from a recognised educational institution, a clean criminal record certificate, and, if you’re below 18, notarised authorisation from your parents or legal guardian to study abroad.
If your stay is for more than 6 months, you must apply for a Foreigner’s Identification Card (TIE) within 1 month of arriving in Spain. You may work in Spain with a study visa as long as the work is compatible with the area of study and any income earned is not required to support you in the country.
The student visa is valid for a period of one year but can be renewed as long as you continue to satisfy the visa conditions and you are also able to provide evidence of having passed the relevant exams. Extension applications must be made within 60 days of the visa expiry date.
The duration of the permit is equal to that of the research project (3 months to a maximum of 5 years). You must register with the Social Security system within a month of arrival. The permit can be renewed on a yearly basis but application for renewal must be within 60 days of the expiry date.
Calling all expats: Have your say in the largest global Expat Survey
HSBC Expat encourages expats worldwide to share their experiences of living and working abroad and take part in global research that compares expatriate life from country to country. Click here for more information, or take part in the Expat Explorer Survey 2013.
Expatica's Getting Started section will provide practical information on how you can open a bank account, exchange your driving licence, improve your Spanish, and more.
Here's a guide to an extensive list of groups and clubs in Madrid for expats, from sports groups to social and family gatherings.
A brief introduction to our Tax section for Spain, from help with inheritance tax to accounting advice.
Here's a short introduction to our Banking section for those living in Spain, from what to ask the experts to opening a Spanish bank account.