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I am looking to relocate to Spain but keep my current job. I work as a freelancer, but just for one company -- they are open to making me an employee if that makes things easier for this move -- the work is remote. For context, it's software development.

The self-employed visa page on the Spanish consulate gives a very demanding list of requirements that don't entirely make sense to me. For example:

Activity permits and licences. List of permits or licences required for the installation, opening or operation of the planned activity or professional practice, indicating the status of the procedures for obtaining them. Certification of applications to the corresponding bodies must be attached.

And

Plan for the establishment or activity. Plan for the establishment or activity to be carried out, indicating the planned investment, the expected return, and, where applicable, the jobs that will be created.

What? I don't want to start a business, I just want to freelance. Or is that what this means -- am I essentially forced to open a company in Spain in order to do this?


Alternatively, can I use a service like Remote.com that, from what I understand, has a legal entity in Spain that "employs" me and the "subcontracts" me to my actual client?

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  • How would you still be freelancing if the company you currently freelance for made you an employee? They’re not necessarily forcing you to run a company as such, but they are asking you to show that your business is viable and your self-employment activities will support your planned life in Spain
    – Traveller
    Sep 13, 2022 at 8:14
  • They haven't made me an employee -- I was just saying that that is an option to consider if the self-employment route wasn't viable.
    – turnip
    Sep 13, 2022 at 8:52

2 Answers 2

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Yes, you do.

According to https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-to-spain-for-work, to qualify for a self-employed work permit you must:

  • set up (incorporate) a company in Spain

  • have the relevant licence for your business and make sufficient investment to carry out your business

  • have enough money to support yourself

  • have at least 3 years’ education at bachelor’s degree level education or relevant work experience

  • have contracts with potential clients in Spain

  • prove that 1 or more Spanish companies has enlisted your services as a freelancer or independent contractor

This permit takes 6 to 8 months to get. It’s valid for up to 1 year and you can extend it for up to 5 years.

There is some useful guidance on expat living in Spain here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-spain, if you’ve not already seen it

The same Travel to Spain for work page linked to above also explains the basic requirements were you to work for a Spanish company on a Spanish employment contract, such as in the Remote.com option you mention in your question. You need one of these long-term work permits if you have an offer of employment with a company in Spain:

  • EU Blue Card, if you’re highly skilled and working in Spain for at least a year

  • highly qualified specialists permit

  • temporary work and residence permit

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  • Thank you. That sounds like a royal pain in the ass. Also, is it me or does "have contracts with potential clients in Spain" not make sense - how can you have a contract with a potential client - they're no longer potential if you have a contract with them. In any case, this entire route doesn't sound viable for me because I don't want to find Spanish clients. I wonder if they're flexible on that front though?
    – turnip
    Sep 13, 2022 at 11:07
  • @turnip It could be a contract subject to you obtaining the relevant visa. IANAL but I doubt the Spanish authorities would be flexible on that - it is after all presumably a core reason for allowing a non-EU national to work as self-employed in Spain. Perhaps the planned International Teleworking Visa might be more what you are looking for ey.com/en_gl/tax-alerts/…
    – Traveller
    Sep 13, 2022 at 11:43
  • I have been keeping an eye on that visa, aka the "digital nomad" visa, but didn't realise they finally announced a release date. Okay, perhaps it will be easier to wait for that. Thanks.
    – turnip
    Sep 13, 2022 at 12:35
  • I made a related question here if you are interested
    – turnip
    Sep 21, 2022 at 11:50
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This is the same in most countries - it's just that as a member of the EU for so many years, UK citizens have been used to the idea that they can move around freely, work, and do business in other EU countries.

Sadly because of Brexit, this is no longer the case; and UK citizens who want to work in any EU country now need a work permit. Which usually means sponsorship by a company in that country, or the creation of a company to sponsor a work permit.

If there is a "digital nomad" visa, you should look into the terms associated with that - but not many countries have those because they are difficult to regulate, and can be used by "bad actors" to stay in their country for extended periods.

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  • Indeed, Brexit has made things very painful. One thing I did not mention (because it deserves its own question) is that I have dual nationality, the other being one of a EU country. I wonder if this whole process would be made easier if I apply with my other nationality... ?
    – turnip
    Sep 14, 2022 at 8:14
  • @turnip That information could easily have been included in the question, framing it something like ’What is the best route for a dual EU/UK national to work remotely in Spain as a self-employed freelancer’ Are you currently living in the UK? Brexit seems like a probable non-issue, TBH, given your dual nationality and freedom of movement rights as a consequence of your EU nationality
    – Traveller
    Sep 14, 2022 at 9:01
  • @Traveller Sorry, I thought it would be difficult to follow and SE guidelines tend to not like multiple questions/scenarios in one place. But anyway, yes, I am currently living in the UK (have been for the past ~20 years). I will need to renew my EU-country ID card in order to proceed via this route.
    – turnip
    Sep 14, 2022 at 10:17
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    @turnip Being an EU national means you can pretty much just turn up in Spain and start working. You'll have to register with the local commune or whatever it is called in Spain, but I think that's it. Renewing your national ID card is almost certainly going to be much less painful than acquiring a visa as a UK national. Sep 15, 2022 at 9:34
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    @turnip If you want to ask about the process as an EU citizen, I suggest you ask a separate question. This is a perfectly good question with perfectly sensible answers for UK citizens who don't have an EU citizenship. Sep 16, 2022 at 15:52

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