Relocating Employees to Spain? Find Out All You Need to Know About Corporate Work Permits
As an entry point to the lucrative EU and Latin American markets, and as one of the largest economies in Europe, Spain is an attractive location to establish business activities. The Spanish climate and lifestyle, together with the governments incentives to attract international investment, also contribute to making it a desirable country to start a company or operate a branch office.
Once a business is established in Spain, you may wish to bring international employees to Spain to work for your company. In this article, we will explore the types of work and residence permits available for international employees coming to Spain, and determine which are the most appropriate, according to their different eligibility criteria.
Work and Residence Permits in Spain for EU Citizens
EU citizens are automatically eligible to live and work in Spain without the need for a visa or permit. However, they are required to register in the Central Registry of Foreigners in Spain (Registro Central de Extranjeros) in order to obtain a residence card within 90 days of arriving in Spain.
The residence card application will also grant the applicant a NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero), which is the legal identification number that allows you to participate in official processes, such as opening a bank account or paying taxes, alongside working for - or starting - a company.
Information on the appointment process, fees, and required documentation is available from the Extranjeria section of the Spanish Government website.
Important Note: The direct relatives of an EU citizen that lives in Spain are also eligible for this type of residence permit.
Work Permit for Non-EU Citizens
Citizens of non-EU countries are required to obtain a permit before they are allowed to live and work in Spain. There are two main types, both of which exist as a result of the 2013 Spanish law created to support entrepreneurship, and must be applied for via the Spanish government’s Unit for Large Companies and Strategic and Economic Sectors (UGE-CE).
The residence permit for intra-company transfers allows employees to relocate to Spain within the framework of a professional or working relationship, or to complete training within a company or group of companies established in Spain. The transfer can be for a maximum of three years for managers and specialists or one year for workers in training.
Applications will be subject to the following criteria:
- There must be a genuine business activity.
- The employee must have a higher or equivalent qualification or, where appropriate, at least three years of professional experience.
- They must have worked for the company for at least three months.
- The transfer must be accredited by the company.
There are two types of intra-company transfer residence permits:
- The Intra-corporate transferee (ICT-UE), which is for managers, specialists, and trainees
- The National residence permit for intra-company transfer, which applies to other categories of workers or when the maximum duration of the ICT-UE has expired
Family members of the respective permit holder can apply to join them living in Spain.
Highly skilled professionals
The highly skilled professional residence permit is for those who are in senior management positions, technical or specialized roles, or are graduates or postgraduates of a prestigious university or business school and have a job offer in Spain.
The company hiring the individual is responsible for the permit application and must be either:
- A large business or corporate group
- An SME in a strategic sector
- A company that has developed a business project of general interest
However, if a company wishes to hire a graduate that qualifies as a highly qualified professional, then this criteria does not apply and the company can be of any size and operate in any sector.
For more in-depth information on this type of residence permit, check out our article on How to Apply for a Highly Skilled Professional Visa in Spain.
Work Permit for Non-EU Citizens in Possession of an EU Blue Card
A holder of an EU Blue Card for highly skilled workers that was issued in another EU country is entitled to live and work in Spain. This is on the provision that they have resided in the Member State where the permit was issued for at least 18 months and the national employment situation in Spain permits hiring for a position in their relevant professional capacity.
Further conditions must be met for this type of permit to be granted, including the presentation of a signed contract that guarantees continuous employment and a gross annual salary between 1.2 - 1.5 times the Spanish national average. The application can be made via the Spanish Immigration Office by the employer or the individual prior to their entry into Spain, or within a month from when it is made.
The Beckham Law
In 2005, Spain created a special tax law that earned the nickname the Beckham Law after the footballer David Beckham was one of the first to take advantage of the regime.
This special tax system is relevant for foreign nationals relocating to Spain for employment, as it allows private individuals that are moving to complete a work contract to choose to pay non-resident personal income tax. This can be applied to the tax period in which the change of residence occurs, and the subsequent five tax periods under certain conditions.
Whatever Your Situation
Whether you are a potential employee of a Spanish company or an employer interested in hiring internationally, Strong Abogados is here to help.
Contact the team below, let us know more about your situation, and we’ll be in touch.
Additionally, many other types of Spanish residence and work permits exist outside the scope of employee relocation. Therefore, if you’re thinking about moving to Spain in a different capacity, we can also advise on the visas and permits that are most appropriate for your situation.