Working in Spain

Working in Spain

Whilst all EU nationals have the right to find employment in Spain without a work permit, finding employment may not prove to be easy if you are outside of the major towns and cities, or away from the tourist hotspots and do not speak Spanish.

It is a good start to have some idea of the kind of work you are looking to do and in which industry. Tourism and real estate are the areas where there are most opportunities for English-speakers, however many jobs require Spanish as well.

Many people, especially with a trade in much demand (such as builders, plumbers, electricians) opt for self-employment, and others start or buy an existing business.

Whatever you are planning to do you will need to obtain your NIE number (see Residency & Tax: Fiscal Identity Numbers) from a police station with a foreigners’ department.

Working for a Spanish Employer

In order to obtain a work contract with a Spanish employer, you will need a NIE number first. To get the same rights as a Spanish employee you will need a work contract that is at least 6 months in duration.

You must then register with the Spanish Security office (Seguridad Social) and for this you will need to take your work contract and NIE. Any spouse, partner or child is also entitled to medical cover. An additional “beneficiary” form must be completed, and the Marriage Certificate, Certificado de Convivencia and Birth Certificate(s), as appropriate, should be produced with the other paperwork.

Working mothers with a child under 3 years of age can apply for child benefit, by completing and presenting Form 140 "Deduccion por Maternidad" to the Hacienda (tax office).

You will receive a temporary card that shows your social security number. This card should be taken to your local social security clinic and you should register with a doctor. This will instigate your permanent health card(s).

Working for a UK Employer in Spain

If you go from the UK to work in Spain for a UK employer, having been previously ordinarily resident in Great Britain, and expect to spend no more than 12 months there, you would normally continue to pay employee’s Class 1 National Insurance contributions in the UK. In all other circumstances Spanish Social Security contributions as an employee would be payable. To access the Spanish state healthcare you should obtain Form E106 from the Department for Work or the Inland Revenue in the UK.

The Self Employed System

By registering on the self employed (or autonomos) system, medical social security cover is immediately available, and pensions benefits are secured when one reaches retirement age for those eligible to claim (see Pensions). In Spain this is currently 65 years for both men and women.

It is no longer necessary for anyone working here on a Contract or as a self employed to apply for a Residencia (residency permit), but you may wish to do so for simplicity

Registering on the System

If you wish to register yourself on Autonomos, there are certain steps to be taken, as follows:

The first thing you should do is obtain your NIE number (see Residency & Tax: Fiscal Identity Numbers).

You will need to apply for a Tax Licence for the work activity to be followed. This can be obtained from the SUMA Office in the town where your work activity will be centred, or Town Hall (Ayuntamiento) as appropriate.

You will need to complete and present a 037 form, which is stamped by the Tax Office and confirms the method of payment of your taxes. There are two methods of paying tax:

a) You make quarterly VAT and Income Tax Declarations on the “direct estimations method”, which means you have to start double entry system book-keeping, or hire the services of an accountant, or

b) You pay a quarterly fixed income tax & VAT amount under the "modulos" system.

Both systems have their advantages; a) is a good method if you think your custom is going to fluctuate to a significant degree, as income tax & VAT is only paid on your actual profit/earnings.

Modulos payments do not take into consideration whether you have had a good or bad month, as you pay the same fixed amount, even if you have zero income. Also, under the modulos system, there is no need to keep accounts or prepare numbered VAT invoices, etc. On the other hand, once your business is established and turnover increases you may well benefit from having a tax system whose payments were set at a basic level.

In order to register within the Seguridad Social (Spanish social security) system, you will need to complete and present a registration document. You will then be liable for fixed monthly payments, which must be paid even if you have zero income.

You will receive a temporary card that shows your social security number. You should take this card to your local social security clinic and register with a doctor. This will instigate your permanent health card.

There are various levels of social security payable, depending on the amount of pension you wish to receive on retirement. Most people choose the minimum (currently about 200 Euros). At each level you have the choice of paying an additional amount for IT (temporary incapacity sickness) benefit in the unfortunate event of your falling ill. You can change the option to pay IT if you wish, but this must be done prior to the 1st October of each year. Those persons over the age of 50 have a slightly different payment structure, and workers over the age of 65 do not have to make any social security payments save for the optional IT payments, although they can opt to continue paying if they wish.


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