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Spain – Self-Employment

Spain is a popular destination for expats looking to start their own businesses or work as self-employed professionals. With its vibrant culture, diverse economy, and attractive lifestyle, Spain offers a range of opportunities for entrepreneurial-minded individuals. In this article, we will provide a breakdown of self-employment and business start-ups in Spain, including how to register as self-employed, whether it is possible to work as a digital nomad, how to start a company, and the incentives and programs available for expats.

Self-Employment for Expats in Spain

Self-employment is a popular option for expats looking to work in Spain. To work as a self-employed individual in Spain, you must register as an autónomo. As an autónomo, you will be responsible for paying your own social security contributions and taxes.

Expats looking to register as self-employed in Spain must first obtain a Número de Identificación de Extranjero (NIE). This is a foreigner identification number that is required for all non-Spanish citizens who wish to work or conduct business in Spain.

Once you have your NIE, you can then register as an autónomo with the Spanish social security system. You can do this online or in person at your local social security office. When registering, you will need to provide your personal information, NIE, and information about your business activities.

It is important to note that registering as an autónomo in Spain comes with certain financial obligations. You will need to pay a monthly social security contribution, which is based on your income. The amount you pay will vary depending on your earnings and the type of business you operate.

Starting a Company in Spain

Expats looking to start a company in Spain have several options. The most common types of companies are a Sociedad Limitada (SL) and a Sociedad Anónima (SA). An SL is a limited liability company and is typically easier and less expensive to set up than an SA. An SA is a publicly traded company and requires more capital to set up.


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To start a company in Spain, you must first obtain your NIE. You will also need to register your company with the Mercantile Registry and obtain a tax identification number (CIF).

Once you have registered your company and obtained your CIF, you can then register your business with the Spanish social security system. You will need to provide information about your company, including its name, business activities, and location.

It is important to note that setting up a company in Spain can be a complex process, and it is recommended that you seek the assistance of a professional advisor or lawyer to guide you through the process.

Digital Nomads in Spain

Spain is a popular destination for digital nomads due to its fast internet, affordable cost of living, and attractive lifestyle. While there is no specific visa for digital nomads in Spain, expats can work remotely as self-employed individuals or register a company in Spain and work as a director or shareholder.

Expats working remotely in Spain must register as an autónomo and pay social security contributions and taxes. However, there are several tax incentives and deductions available to self-employed individuals, including deductions for home office expenses and travel expenses.

Incentives and Programs for Expats

The Spanish government offers various incentives and programs to encourage entrepreneurship and self-employment in the country. Some of these include:

  1. Entrepreneurship Promotion Act (Ley de Apoyo a los Emprendedores): This law was passed in 2013 and provides various tax incentives, subsidies, and reduced social security contributions for self-employed individuals and small businesses.

  2. Tax Incentives for Foreign Investment: Spain offers tax incentives for foreign investors who invest in Spain’s economy. These incentives include reduced corporate tax rates and other tax benefits.

  3. Entrepreneurial Support Centers (Centros de Apoyo al Desarrollo Empresarial): These centers provide assistance to entrepreneurs and small businesses, including training, mentoring, and counseling.

  4. Funding Programs: Spain has several funding programs that provide financing to startups and small businesses. Some of these programs include the Spanish National Innovation Company (ENISA) and the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX).

  5. Residency Visa for Entrepreneurs: Spain also offers a residency visa for non-EU entrepreneurs who plan to set up a business in Spain. The visa allows them to live and work in Spain for two years, with the possibility of renewing for another three years.

Self-employment and business start-ups can be a great option for expats who are looking for opportunities in a new country. However, the process of registering as self-employed or setting up a company can be complicated and daunting, particularly if you are not familiar with the local laws and regulations. It is important to do your research, seek advice from experts, and follow the correct procedures to ensure that your business is set up legally and in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.

In summary, expats looking to become self-employed or start a business in Spain need to familiarize themselves with the legal requirements for registration, taxation, and compliance with the relevant regulations. They also need to be aware of the various incentives and programs available to support entrepreneurship and small businesses in the country. With the right planning, preparation, and guidance, self-employment and business start-ups can offer a rewarding and profitable experience for expats in Spain.


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