You will probably need a work visa if you wish to work in Spain. In this article, find important information regarding the different types of work visas.
In order to live and work in Spain, no visa, work permit or employment confirmation are required for nationals of the EU and EEA. There are no restrictions for nationals of new EU member states either.
Since 2006, nationals of the European Union can travel to Spain as tourists and register with local or national employment agencies (Servicio Publico de Empleo Estatal - SEPE). In case they haven't found a job beyond 90 days, they can either request for an extension of their stay so that they can keep on looking for a job, or leave the country and come back for another similar period.
Citizens of the EU or EEA can apply for a residency card in Spain to enjoy the same social services as Spanish nationals. This card includes the NIE number (Foreigners' ID number) needed to file taxes, open a bank account, etc..
Note however, that the resident card (Tarjeta de Extranjeros) is no longer mandatory for EU and EEA nationals, but the NIE number remains mandatory if one intends to make a more than 90 days stay, seek employment or register with employment agencies in the country.
To apply for a NIE, visit the corresponding police station and present:
- your passport and photocopies
- EX-15 application form (Solicitud de Número de Identidad de Extranjero (NIE) y Certificados (EX-15) that can be downloaded at the public services website http://www.interior.gob.es/en/web/servicios-al-ciudadano/modelos-de-solicitud/extranjeria
- supporting documents to justify the reason for applying for a NIE, such as private purchase contract for a property, proof of employment or a Spanish social security number which you can obtain when planning to work freelance. Make sure to check in advance which documents apply to your situation.
There are applicable fees (approximately €10 per application) that you will have to pay at a bank branch. You can return to pick up your NIE after the payment process. Note that in some areas, like Barcelona, you are obliged to book an appointment in advance (cita previa) to be attended and you may still spend hours waiting in a queue. Initially a temporary NIE will be issued and you will need to go through the same process again to get the permanent NIE document after three months, even though the actual number will remain the same.
If you have financial interests in Spain, or if you own a property in the country, you will need to apply for a NIF number (Número de Identificación Fiscal). As a landowner, you must pay land and property tax and the NIF is required in order to file taxes. For more information, visit the Spanish Ministry of Home Affairs.
Good to know:
In Spain you need a NIE for almost everything – from opening a bank account, starting a work contract, to using public libraries. Many administration offices will ask for your NIE instead of your name to be able to process your requests. When living in Spain you will know this number better than you will know your own telephone number!
The application process has become more complex over recent years, which is why many companies now offer to arrange this for you. You can apply for it in person, via a Spanish consulate abroad or through a representative in Spain. The easiest way to obtain a NIE is proof of a work contract from your employer.
Non EU-EEA nationals
In order to live and work in Spain, citizens from outside the the EU or EEA must apply for a work permit, a visa and (or) an entry visa.
Residence visa to work in Spain as an employee
After you have secured a job, your employer must request a work permit for you to legally work in Spain and which will have to be renewed after one year. Once the work permit has been approved, your work and residency visa can be issued. After five years of residency you’ll be able to apply for long-term residency.
Seasonal workers will need to apply for a work permit and visa based on the duration of the contract. Generally a proof of accommodation, financial resources to cover travel costs and your return after the end of the contract is necessary.
- "A" visa - temporary work permit - seasonal job. The visa is granted for a specific job in a definite geographic area. The maximum duration of a "A" visa is 9 months, including all possible renewals.
- "b" visa - initial work permit. The visa allows foreign workers to work in a specific economic sector within a definite geographic area. The maximum duration of a "B" visa is one year.
- "B" visa - work permit renewal. This visa is granted to holders of "b" visa upon expiration of their visa. Visa "B" holders can take up employment in various industries or sectors for a maximum period of two years.
- "C" visa - work permit renewal. This visa is intended for holders of visa "B" upon expiration of their visa. There are no employment restrictions with a visa C.
Residence visa for investors or self-employment in Spain
- "d" visa - initial work permit. Visa "d" allows foreign workers to undertake economic activities within a specific field for a maximum period of one year. Geographic restrictions may apply.
- "D" visa - work permit renewal. This visa is designed for holders of visa "d" upon expiration of their visa. Visa "D" allows foreign workers to undertake activities within various economic sectors for a maximum period of two years.
- "E" visa - work permit. This visa is designed for holders of visa "D" upon expiration of their visa. Visa "E" allows foreign workers to undertake any economic activity, anywhere in Spain, and for a maximum period of three years.
- The permanent work visa allows foreign workers to undertake any activity in any sector and is designed for holders of "C" and "E" visa upon expiration of their visa. The permanent work visa is renewable every 5 years.
How to apply for a work permit?
Foreign workers already in Spain must apply for a work permit at the nearest Oficina de extranjeros or at the Provincial Ministry of Labour. It is necessary to provide several key documents such as passport photocopies, extracts from criminal records, official medical certificates, three passport-sized identity photos, copies of the job offer or employment contract, details of the job as well as additional information on the employer. Fees apply.
If the foreign worker is not in Spain, the application must be filed with a Spanish embassy or consulate abroad.
Once the work permit application is filed, foreign workers must wait until the provincial labour office (Direccion Provincial de Trabajo, Seguridad Social y Asuntos Sociales) makes a decision (within two or three months).
Other types of Spanish visas
EU Blue Card for qualified workers is valid for a year and renewable.
The student visa allows you to study in Spain, do research work or take part in government exchange programs teaching English in public schools as well as being an intern, volunteer or au pair.
After one year of legal residency, which has been renewed for another year, spouses, children and parents of the legal resident, may apply for the 'residence visa to reunite'.
As illegal immigration is a major problem in Spain, immigration procedures are constantly modified, which is why it is so important to regularly check with the Spanish embassy or consulate to get the latest updates.
Ministerio de Trabajo y Emigración - Ministry of Labor and Immigration www.empleo.gob.es
Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y de Cooperación – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation www.exteriores.gob.es
EU Blue Card ec.europa.eu/immigration/bluecard