If you are an EU national, moving to Spain and working in Spain is easy. EU nationals can move to and work in other EU countries without the need for permits and visas. All that is required is a valid passport.
Non-EU nationals need to make the necessary arrangements for the correct visa and permit with the Spanish Consulate in their home country before leaving for Spain.
Some countries, like the USA, Canada and Australia, have agreements with Spain and citizens of such countries will be able enter Spain without a visa for up to 90 days per 6 month period without a residence visa. However, if you are moving to Spain permanently and want to work, you will need to visit your Spanish Consulate and apply for an Employee visa. Check before you go as to what documents you will need and allow about 3 months for your visa to be processed.
Documents you are likely to need include:
- Proof of employment – job offer, details of company etc.
- Registration and social security number of the company employing you.
- Criminal Record Certificate.
- Valid passport.
- Medical certificate
- Three passport sized photos.
If you are already in Spain on a tourist visa and decide to work, you will need to apply for a work permit at your provincial of the Ministry of Labour, Ministerio de Trabajo, and they may need to see proof that you are registered with your Consulate in Spain.
If you are going to be self-employed in Spain, you will also need a work permit and will need to prove your qualifications in your chosen field.
When you have arrived in Spain, if you are a Non-EU national you will have to obtain a Residence Permit from the authorities. Hire a gestor to help you with this – Spanish bureaucracy can be a nightmare!
All the bureaucracy involved in permits and visas does prevent some people moving to Spain without having some kind of employment lined up. However, many EU nationals move to Spain without a job. Please don't do this. However low the cost of living, you still need a regular income and Spain, like most countries, does have an unemployment problem. Don't assume you can live off savings while you find a job, search for a job first.
Common employment for people moving to Spain includes:
- 1. Building work or Labouring – You may be able to pick up labouring work on sites in Spain but building work is getting harder to find due to the slow-down in the housing market.
- 2. Seasonal work – Bar work, restaurant work etc. in popular tourist destinations.
- 3. Teaching – If you have a TEFL certificate, you may be able to find work in language schools. Apply before you move. You also may be able to make some money teaching English in your local area or tutoring children.
- 4. Trades – If you are a plumber, electrician or air-conditioning installer, you may be able to get work or set up your own business in expat areas where people like to use tradespeople who speak their language.
- 5. Freelancing – People like graphic artists/designers, designers, programmers, writers etc. can work from home via the internet and take on work from all over the world.
- 6. Running a business – Some people actually buy a business like a bar or restaurant in Spain. Make sure you check things out carefully before you do this. It may sound like a great idea but will you be able to make a success of it.
- 7. The Internet – If you have an established online business then you can carry on with that in Spain.
Whatever you do, make sure that you do it properly and that you register for social security and tax. Use a gestor to help you with this and use a tax adviser to help you with tax returns if you are self-employed.
“Can I work in Spain?” - Yes, but it may take a bit of effort to sort out!