All EU nationals have the right to find employment in Spain without a work permit but finding work may not be easy, especially if you are outside the major towns and cities or away from the tourist hotspots and do not speak Spanish.
Tourism and real estate are the principal areas with the most opportunities for English-speakers, but many jobs require Spanish as well.
People with a trade (such as builders, plumbers, electricians) can opt for self-employment. Another, popular option, is to start or buy an existing business. Whatever you are planning to do you will need to obtain your NIE number from a police station with a ‘foreigners’ department.
Working for a Spanish Employer
To obtain a work contract with a Spanish employer, you will need a NIE number and to receive the same rights as a Spanish employee you will need a contract that is at least 6 months in duration.
The next step is to register with the Spanish Social Security office (Seguridad Social) and you will need to take your work contract and NIE details. Any spouse, partner or child is also entitled to medical cover upon completion of an additional ‘beneficiary’ form.
Spain is very bureaucratic, so take along any paperwork you have, including birth and marriage certificates.
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.
By registering on the self employed (or autonomos) system, medical cover is immediately available and pensions benefits are secured when one reaches retirement age for those eligible to claim. In Spain this is currently 65 years of age for both men and women.
It is no longer compulsory for anyone working in Spain on a Contract or as self employed to apply for a Residencia (residency permit), but it can be useful in some circumstances, such as HP agreements, buying a house etc. See also Visas and Permits
Registering on the System as Self-Employed (Autonomos)
1. Obtain your NIE number.
2. 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 located or at the Town Hall (Ayuntamiento).
3. Complete and present an 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:
Quarterly VAT (IVA) and Income Tax Declarations on the ‘direct estimations method’, which means starting a double entry book-keeping system or using the services of an accountant.
Pay a quarterly fixed income tax and VAT amount under the “modulos” system.
Both systems have their advantages. The first is a good method if you think your custom is going to fluctuate to a significant degree, as income tax and VAT is only paid on your actual profit/earnings.
Modulos payments do not take into consideration good or bad months as you pay the same fixed amount, even if you have zero income. Under the modulos system, however, 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.
Register with the Spanish Social Security system (Seguridad Social). 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. 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.
Any spouse, partner or child is also entitled to medical cover upon completion of an additional ‘beneficiary’ form. And don’t forget, Spain is very bureaucratic, so take along any paperwork you have, including birth and marriage certificates.
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 tax office (Hacienda). Further information can always be obtained from the Seguridad Social office.
If your work activity will be carried out in an office/shop etc where the public are allowed to enter, you will also need to make an Opening Licence application. This can be obtained from your local Town Hall.
Opening licences can sometimes take years to come through but, fortunately, that does not stop you carrying on your business in the meantime.
When your work activity is one that usually requires qualification certificates (e.g.. electrician, plumber, hairdresser, nurse), your original Certificates must be officially translated into Spanish, and both sets forwarded to the Ministry of Education & Science. They will process the Certificates, which must then be presented with the rest of the work papers.
If the activity is a bar or restaurant where food is handled, it will be necessary to sit an examination in order to obtain the requisite ‘food handling’ certificate allowing you to handle food. In practice, a mere formality. Your local Sanitas Department will also have to be notified, and they will carry out an inspection of your establishment.
If you decide to cease self employment, it is important to inform the relevant authorities and “sign off” the system, or payments will continue to accrue in your name.
As with Residencia rulings, it is quite likely that some of the above will change at a future date as Spain comes into line with EEC rules and regulations.
Once in the Spanish Social Security system, you will be accruing an entitlement to a Spanish pension. Within Europe, pensions are paid separately by each country, and there are certain rules that apply in Spain for pension provision.
In respect of contributory pensions, the individual must have been in Spain for 16 years, 10 of those years as a resident, and two of these years must also be immediately prior to retirement.
The proportion of pension will depend upon the amount of years worked in other European countries. The minimum amount of time the individual can have contributed is 15 years, and for this they will have the right to 50% of the regulated base pension amount.
Retirement is not automatic in Spain, and a declaration of ‘intention to retire’ must be presented to the tax office (Hacienda)!