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How can I legally work in Spain after Brexit?

How can you legally work in Spain

Nearly two years on from the end of the Brexit transition period, confusion still surrounds the visa options for Britons in Spain. 

Many of you do not plan to work in Spain and we’ve come a long way to understanding the Non-Lucrative Visa (NLV) designed for this purpose. As we reported in October, it’s been getting faster.

But what visa should you get if you do wish to work in Spain?

We’ll be looking at some key changes in 2023, but here is an outline of the current options.

Employee visa

If you employed by a Spanish company you will make you application to one of the Spanish consulates in the UK but your employer will need to seek approval for your job offer from the Foreigners Office (Oficinas de Extranjeria) in Spain.

Self-employment/ autónomo

If you are an EU citizen, you can just register as an autónomo, but if you are not, you will need a visa. You can apply for a self-employment work visa, or you can modify an existing visa, such as a NLV after one year. For this visa you will need to submit a viable business plan.

 Setting up a new business in Spain is usually trickier to provide documentation for than if you have been running the same type of business in the UK, because you can show historic accounts, says Melanie Radford of My Lawyer in Spain.  “But even if you do run a business already you will need to demonstrate how you will grow it in Spain,” she says, after having seen a number of successful applications.   

But beware of timescales, she advises. “Because the process involves the Spanish Consulate in the UK sending your business plan application to the relevant regional Foreigners Office in Spain for approval, without a specific deadline, you may have to wait a long time.”

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Modifying a NLV after a year

As mentioned above, an easier option can be to apply for a NLV first – and taking a one ‘a year-long sabbatical’ as one applicant put it (as you are not permitted to work on the NLV) - and then making the application after a year to the Foreigners Office.

Golden visa

Visa in spain

If you purchase a property worth over €500,000 you can apply for a golden visa (also known as an investor visa) n Spain, with proof of your purchase. With this visa you are allowed to freely live and work in Spain. But beware that if you spend more than 183 days in Spain you will become tax resident.

Other types of investor visa

Rather than purchasing real estate, there are other types of investor visa. You can also receive a residence visa if you invest heavily in Spain, be it €1m-€2m, or a business project that will create jobs or benefit the country in some way.

Applying on your spouse’s EU passport

British passport holders can piggyback on their wife or husband’s EU passport holder application, as we have reported before. Through this route you can get Spanish residency that will permit you to work.

Digital nomad visa

The one that many of you are waiting for!  This visa is currently going through the implementation process of the Spanish Parliament. It is approved, with the final details to be revealed at the end of 2022. We will keep you informed when the exact details of eligibility, duration, income requirements and tax advantages become known.

“A key question is whether start-ups older than 5 years might be permitted”, says Melanie Radford. “Another is the qualifying minimum monthly income and if digital nomads will contribute to the Spanish social security system. We do not know yet.”

When all the details are published, applications will be made online, and it is expected that they will be processed more speedily than visa applications made to the UK based consulates.

Find out about relocating to Spain

Liz Rowlinson

Author