There are so many reasons to love Spain. Storied history, vibrant culture, delicious food, great weather, and diverse landscapes. There is something for everyone in this great European nation. While many dream of retiring abroad to this great land, others decide they don’t want to wait for their golden years to live overseas. Of course, you’ll need to support yourself in some capacity while you’re living the expat dream, so you’ll need the legal documents necessary to both live and work abroad in Spain.
In order to do this, you’ll need to contact your local Spanish consulate or embassy and apply for a working visa. This will grant you temporary residency in Spain and allow you to live and work in the country for the duration of your employment. You will need a proof of employment and income for the visa, so you’ll have to have the job lined up before applying. This may mean traveling to Spain for interviews and job acceptance before returning to your home country to apply for the working visa. If you are already a citizen of an EU state, you will not need any documentation beyond your passport to work in Spain.
Work Visa as an Employee
In order to receive a work visa in Spain as an employee of a Spanish company, your employer will need to apply for an authorized work permit for you. They will have to show that no qualified candidates of Spanish citizenship were suitable or available for the position. This form will be sent to the Ministry of Labour (Delegación Provincial del Ministerio de Trabajo e Inmigración) and you will be sent a copy of the stamped application so it can be added to your documents for the visa application at your consulate.
Self-Employed in Spain
The process for working independently in Spain begins the same way, applying for a residence and work visa (visado de trabajo y residencia) through your local consulate. You will, however, need the following additional documents:
- Proof of appropriate funds to support yourself
- Proof that you have the qualifications to do the work you intend
- A business plan (if applicable)
- Any necessary licenses to perform the job in Spain
- Contracts or commissions from companies, if applicable
- Evidence of potential for creating employment in Spain
It’s important to remember that not all licenses or qualifications are globally recognized. If you work in a field that requires specific documentation in order to legally practice (medicine, law, etc.), make sure to find out if those qualifications are accepted in Spain. You may find that you cannot legally work in Spain under the same capacity as you did in your home country, or you may have to apply for additional licenses.
There are certain sectors within the Spanish economy that allow for a more streamlined and less restrictive hiring process for qualified foreigners looking to work abroad. The Spanish government categorizes these sectors as “shortage occupations,” as there is a general lack of qualified candidates among Spanish citizens, compared to other sectors. This makes jobs in these categories incredibly attractive to foreigners with specialized skills looking to work abroad in Spain.
Shortage occupation sectors in Spain often include language teaching, engineering, real estate, tourism, hotel/restaurant, computing and business, commercial relations, medical practices, and web development. The top growing sectors in Spain include accounting and financing, IT, renewable energy, creative, marketing, agribusiness, and business management.
Employment Landscape: A standard work week in Spain is just over 40 hours. Standard daily work hours usually extend from around 9 a.m. until around 5-6 p.m. (7-8 p.m. if the traditional 2-to-3-hour lunch break is practiced). As of this year, the Employment and Social Security Ministry (Ministerio de Empleo y Seguridad Social) raised the minimum wage requirements to € 825.65 per month and € 9,907 per year.
Obviously, learning Spanish will enhance your integration into the country and greatly widen your scope of possible job opportunities. It is certainly possible, however, to work abroad in Spain while speaking only English. You will likely have to work in a tourism or service industry. Real estate for foreigners, teaching English as a second language, and working with a tourism company geared towards English, Canadian, American, Australian, or New Zealand travelers are the most common areas for employment among English-speaking expats.
Some large international corporations, with branches all over the world, will conduct their business in English, since a large percentage of employees are from different countries. Working abroad in Spain for one of these companies could be another way around the language barrier.
Tyler Sorce is an American writer and digital nomad currently living in Lisbon, Portugal. In a past life he was a chef in Manhattan and Paris, follow his travels and favorite dishes on Instagram.