Work visas and permits for Spain

Work visas for Spain
Updated 2021-07-16 12:02

From its culture and cuisines, history and climate, Spain is a dream destination for expats. If you plan to live, work and study in Spain, you may need a visa and a work permit. There are numerous options and exemptions, and it can be confusing. So, this essential guide will help you discover which permits you may need to start your new life in the country.

EU-EEA nationals

If you are an EU/EEA national, you have the right to live and work in Spain without a visa or permit. 

Since 2006, European Union nationals can travel to Spain as tourists and register with local or national employment agencies. If you haven't found a job within 90 days, you can either request an extension of your stay to continue looking for work or leave the country and return for another period. 

Citizens of the EU or EEA can apply for a Spanish residency card/certificate and an NIE (foreigners' identity number). Without an NIE, you will not be able to open a bank account, seek employment or register with employment agencies. And the Spanish tax authorities won't be able to process your tax information.

You can apply for your NIE at the Spanish embassy in your home country or any National Police station in Spain that deals with foreign documentation. You will need to present:

  • A valid passport and photocopies.
  • A completed Ex-15 application form (Solicitud de Número de Identidad de Extranjero (NIE). You can download this from the Ministry of the Interior's website
  • Two passport-sized photos.
  • Supporting documents justifying the reason for applying for an NIE. For example, a private purchase contract for a property or proof of employment. Make sure to check in advance which documents apply to your situation.

You will also need to pay the NIE processing fees, which are around 10 euros. This is paid at a bank branch. You can return to pick up your NIE after the payment process.

Good to know:

In Spain, you need an NIE for almost everything - from opening a bank account and starting a work contract to purchasing a car and collecting registered items from a post office. Many administration offices will ask for your NIE instead of your name to process your requests. When living in Spain, you will probably know this number better than your telephone number!

The application process has become a little more complex in recent years. Consequently, numerous companies have sprung up that can manage the application process and obtain your NIE for you - for a fee.

Non-EU-EEA nationals

To live and work in Spain, citizens from outside the EU or EEA must apply for a work permit, a visa and/or an entry visa.

Visa to work as an employee

After you have secured a job, your employer must request a work permit so you can legally work in Spain. This has 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/permanent residency.

There are various types of visas for different job types. They include:

  • Long-term working visa
  • Highly qualified professionals visa
  • Employment work with fixed-term contract visa
  • Internship visa
  • Self-employment work visa

How to apply for a work permit 

Your prospective employer will start the application process at the Labour and Immigration Provincial Delegation, where they will receive an officially stamped permit. The employer will send it to you so you can take it to the Spanish embassy or consulate in your country of origin to complete the application process. This will involve submitting the initial application documents as well as your passport and other required documents. The embassy/consulate will then send the application to the Immigration Office in Spain for approval.


Employers in Spain have to hire Spanish nationals or EU citizens first rather than foreigners. Therefore, if you are a non-EU citizen, you must look for work on the Shortage Occupation List which contains job positions employers haven't been able to fill.

Other types of visas in Spain

  • EU Blue Card (allows highly-skilled non-EU citizens to live and work in Spain. It is valid for one year and can be renewed biannually)
  • Student visa
  • Au pair visa
  • Seasonal worker visa

Visa for seasonal workers

Seasonal workers will need to apply for a work permit and visa based on the duration of their contract. The process is broadly similar to other types of work visa in that employers will apply for the visa on an employee's behalf. Additionally, seasonal works have to provide proof of accommodation and evidence of financial resources to cover return travel costs.


Seasonal workers will need to apply for a work permit and visa based on the duration of their contract. The process is broadly similar to other types of work visas in that employers will apply for the document on an employee's behalf. Additionally, seasonal works have to provide proof of accommodation and financial resources to cover return travel costs.

Useful links:

Ministry of Labour, Migrations & Social Security

Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Unión Europea y Cooperación

EU Blue Card

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