Setting up a business in Spain


If you wish to settle in Spain and be your own boss, you may set up a business there. Related procedures are explained in this article.

Spain is very conducive to foreign investment. Spanish authorities, in fact, greatly encourage the setting up of big, small and medium enterprises in the country in order to boost up its economy. Hence, foreign investors and the most welcome there, whether they come from European Union or non-European countries. Procedures applying to European Union citizens are however simpler than those applying to non-European citizens. You are advised to seek information with the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism before proceeding.


European Union citizens do not have to register with the Foreigners Registry to be authorized to set up a business in Spain. Non-European citizens, on the other hand, have to produce their Número de Identificación de Extranjero, that is their resident card, as well as an appropriate visa during registration. Moreover, they will have to produce proof of minimum capital and engage themselves to create jobs for local citizens once they have set up their business.

 Good to know:

Some professions are regulated in Spain: doctors, lawyers, dentists, accountants, teachers, engineers, etc. Foreigners who wish to indulge in these activities have to get their qualifications recognized in Spain.

Types of companies

Foreigners are eligible to set up different types of companies in Spain:

  • Empresario Individual or Autónomo - Sole Proprietor Company
  • Sociedad Civil - Partnership
  • Sociedad Limitada or Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada - Limited Liability Company
  • Sociedad Anonima - Public Limited Company
  • Sociedad Limitada Nueva Empresa - New Enterprise Limited Company
  • Comunidad de Bienes – Co-ownership.


First of all, you are advised to hire a lawyer and a notary, or to seek the assistance of experts for the setting up of your business. Note that some companies may require specific licenses at regional levels. Once you have chosen which type of business you wish to set up, you will have to proceed with its registration at the Registro Mercantil Central, that is the Central Commercial Registry. You will have to apply for a Certificación Negativa de la Denominación Social (Certificate of Uniqueness) in order to verify that the company name does not yet exist in Spain. Fees apply.

You will then have to open a company bank account by depositing the required amount, depending on the type of company you wish to set up. The bank will then issue a deposit certificate. You also have to obtain a public deed of incorporation issued by a public notary before applying for the Codigo de Identificación Fiscal, that is the tax identification code at the Delegación de Hacienda. You will obtain a provisional number while the permanent tax number should be issued within six months.

The next step will be to pay transfer tax and Impuesto de Transmisiones Patrimoniales y Actos Jurídicos Documentados, that is stamp duty, at the nearest tax office. This should be done within 30 days following the issue of the public deed of incorporation. Note that stamp duty does not apply in the Canary Islands.

Once you are done with these formalities, you can register your company with the Registro Mercantil Central within two months following the issue of the public deed of incorporation. Note that fees generally vary according to the capital investment and to the number of shareholders. Finally, you will have to submit a formal Declaración Censal de Inicio de Actividad (declaration to start activity), to register with the tax department, to legalise your company books with the Central Commercial Registry and to obtain an opening license with the nearest municipality.

You are also required to notify the Delegación Provincial de la Consejería de Trabajo e Industria, that is the regional work authorities, once you have completed all related procedures.

 Useful links:

Central Mercantile Register
Central Mercantile Register - Registering your company
Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism of Spain – Setting up a business

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See also

Valencia, which is the Valencia Community's capital city, offers various job opportunities to qualified and skilled young professionals.
Unemployment rate in the Canary Islands is quite high since the world economic crisis. However, foreigners having strong language skills may be hired.
Tenerife Island and Santa Cruz de Tenerife, its capital city, are known to be tourist destinations. But there are also jobs opportunities in many fields.
Sevilla's economy is recovering gradually after having been seriously affected by the global economic crisis. Unemployment rate stood at 33.86% in 2013.
Malaga has been one of the most affected Spanish cities by the global economic crisis. Hence its high unemployment rate during recent years.

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