Start a business in Spain

Everything You Need to Know

Spain presents itself as an attractive destination for expats looking to start a business. The country’s infrastructure and legal protections provide a good foundation for anyone looking to branch out. Understanding the regulations around the different legal structures is key in the initial stages, as well as figuring out how to register and comply with different tax and insurance regulations. Establishing local networks and mastering the unique business culture in Spain can also be important for success.

Who can start a business in Spain?

Spain is a great place to start a business for those looking to access the European market, and anyone who is a legal resident can start a business in Spain. Legal residents include both individuals and corporations. It’s important to note that non-EU citizens will need a working visa to start a business in Spain.

Legal requirements for business owners

There are some legal requirements that business owners must meet before starting a business in Spain. These include obtaining a tax identification number (NIF) and registering with the Mercantile Registry. Business owners must also register for taxes with the Spanish Tax Agency and hire the necessary staff.

Visa requirements for non-EU citizens

Non-EU citizens who want to start a business in Spain will need a working visa. There are two types of residency visas available, depending on the type of business being set up. The «Entrepreneur» visa is available to those starting a business with significant economic interest for Spain, and the «Highly Qualified Professionals» visa is available for those with exceptional talent and experience.

Choosing a legal structure for your business in Spain

When starting a business in Spain, one of the most important decisions to make is choosing the legal structure for your company. There are several options available, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.

Options for Legal Structures in Spain

The two most common legal structures for businesses in Spain are sole trader (autónomo) and limited liability company (sociedad limitada or SL). However, other forms of legal structures include partnerships, cooperatives, and joint ventures.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Different Legal Structures

The main benefits of a sole trader structure include simplicity and lower start-up costs, as well as more control over the business. However, as a sole trader, you are personally liable for all your company’s debts and liabilities. A limited liability company, or SL, provides greater protection for the business owner’s personal assets, as the company is considered a separate legal entity. However, this structure is more complex and requires a minimum share capital of €3,000. Partnerships are a collaborative option and can be a good choice for two or more people looking to share the profits and responsibilities of a business. However, all partners are fully responsible for the company’s liabilities.

Setting up a Limited Liability Company

To set up a limited liability company in Spain, you will need to appoint a minimum of one director and one shareholder, and file the company’s bylaws with the Commercial Registry. You will also need to have a minimum share capital of €3,000, which can be contributed by the shareholders

Setting up a Partnership

Partnerships require a detailed partnership agreement, outlining the roles, responsibilities, and profit-sharing arrangements of each partner. This agreement should be drafted with the help of a lawyer or professional service to ensure accuracy and clarity. In conclusion, choosing the right legal structure for your business in Spain is a crucial decision that should be made with careful consideration of the benefits and drawbacks of each option. It’s important to seek professional advice to ensure compliance with legal and taxation requirements.

Employing staff for a business in Spain

If you plan to start a business in Spain that requires employees, it’s important to familiarize yourself with employment laws. In Spain, the employment relationship is governed by Labor Law, which applies to all employees regardless of their nationality. Employers must comply with rules on working hours, overtime pay, vacation time, minimum wage, and health and safety regulations.

Employment Laws in Spain

The Spanish constitution enshrines workers’ rights to participate in collective bargaining and union activities, while also protecting against discrimination on grounds such as race, gender, or religion. Employers must provide employees with a written contract outlining the terms and conditions of employment, including salary and benefits, working hours, and job description. They must also provide their employees a safe work environment and follow basic health and safety regulations.

Hiring Employees

When hiring employees, it’s essential to follow a fair and transparent recruitment process. You can advertise vacancies through online recruitment sites, local press, or through the national employment office (INEM). References and background checks are important in the hiring process, which often also involves an interview. In Spain, it’s common to offer permanent contracts with a trial period of 6 months.

Social Security Contributions and Health Insurance

As an employer in Spain, you are required to register for social security and make contributions to the system. Social security contributions are mandatory, and employers must withhold and deposit payroll taxes, including social security and pension contributions, with the Spanish Tax Agency. In addition to social security contributions, employers must also provide health insurance to their employees through either the Spanish National Health Service or a private insurance company.

  • Employment laws enshrined in the Spanish constitution protect against discrimination and require a written contract for employees
  • Fair and transparent recruitment processes are required, often involving interviews and background checks
  • Employers must register for social security and make contributions to the system on behalf of their employees
  • Health insurance must also be provided by the employer, either through the Spanish National Health Service or a private insurance company

Complying with employment laws, hiring fairly, and providing social security and health insurance are just a few factors to consider when employing staff in Spain. Seeking advice from a professional service can help navigate the complex world of Spanish employment regulations.

Registering your business in Spain

Starting a business in Spain requires registration with the proper authorities. This section covers the process of registering your business and obtaining the necessary documentation to operate legally.

The Registration Process

The first step in registering your business is to obtain a número de identificación fiscal (NIF), which is a tax identification number. You can obtain an NIF by visiting the Tax Agency website or by visiting a local tax office.

After obtaining your NIF, you will need to register your business in the Registro Mercantil, or mercantile registry. This is a public registry that records commercial transactions and different types of companies. You may need to provide various documents, such as identification, proof of address, and company formation documents.

Obtaining a Tax Identification Number

Your tax identification number (CIF) is required to register for taxes in Spain. You can obtain a CIF by registering your business in the mercantile registry. You will need a CIF to file tax returns and carry out other tax-related activities in Spain.

Registering for Taxes

All businesses in Spain must register for taxes with the Spanish Tax Agency. Registration can be completed online or in-person at a local tax office. Some taxes to consider include corporate income tax, value-added tax (VAT), and payroll taxes for employees.

Registering Your Business in the Mercantile Registry

Registering your business in the mercantile registry helps establish legal protection for your business and creates a public record of your company’s existence. This registration is particularly important for companies seeking financing or investors. Depending on the type of business you are registering, you may need to provide specific documentation.

  • For a sole trader, you will need to provide a copy of your ID or passport.
  • For a limited liability company, you will need to provide proof of minimum share capital and the company’s registration documents.
  • For a partnership, you will need to sign a partnership agreement outlining roles, responsibilities, and profit-sharing arrangements of each partner.

Registering your business in Spain may seem daunting, but the process can be streamlined with the help of a professional service. Consider working with a service like BCN Business Services to navigate the requirements and ensure your business is fully registered and compliant.

Opening a business bank account in Spain

It is an essential step for any entrepreneur starting their own business. Having a separate account for your business transactions can help you keep track of your finances and simplify tax reporting. In Spain, there are several benefits to opening a business bank account, such as better credit terms, streamlined account management, and access to financial products designed for businesses. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits and requirements of opening a business bank account in Spain. Benefits of opening a business bank account There are several benefits of opening a business bank account in Spain, including:

Better credit terms

By opening a business bank account, you can establish a credit history for your company, which can help you obtain loans and secure credit lines in the future.

Streamlined account management

With a separate account for your business transactions, you can easily keep track of your income and expenses, and you can save time and money on accounting.

Access to financial products

Business bank accounts in Spain offer various financial products such as overdraft facilities, credit lines, or leasing options. Requirements for opening a business bank account Before opening a business bank account in Spain, you will need to provide certain documentation and fulfil some requirements. Here are the main ones:

Proof of identity

You need to present a valid identification document such as a passport to prove your identity.

Fiscal address

A fiscal address in Spain is required when opening a business bank account. The Fiscal address can be your business address or your home address.

Business registration documents

You will need to provide documentation that proves that your business is registered with the Mercantile Registry and you have obtained a tax identification number (CIF).

Requisite visit

You have to schedule a meeting with the bank and answer some questions related to your business activity before opening the account.

Minimum deposit

Some Spanish banks may require a minimum deposit to open the account. In conclusion, opening a business bank account in Spain is highly recommended for any entrepreneur starting their own business. It can help you keep track of your finances, establish credit history, and access financial products designed for businesses. Remember to check with different banks on their requirements and fees for opening a business account, and choose the one that best suits your needs.

Complying with tax and insurance regulations

Complying with tax and insurance regulations is a vital part of starting a business in Spain. Understanding the Spanish tax system is the first step to ensure compliance.

Understanding the Spanish tax system

The Spanish tax system has several different types of taxes, including income tax, corporate tax, VAT, and social security contributions. Business owners must understand their obligations in regard to each type of tax and their specific circumstances.

Filing income tax returns

Business owners must file their income tax returns annually. The deadline for filing income tax returns is June 30th if the business owner has a tax obligation of €1,000 or less, or July 31st for higher tax obligations. It’s essential to keep clear and organized accounts to simplify the process of filing income tax returns.

Paying VAT

Businesses in Spain must pay Value Added Tax (VAT) on most goods and services. The standard VAT rate is 21%, while reduced rates of 10% and 4% apply to some items, such as food, hotels, and books. As a general rule, VAT should be collected from customers and paid to the Spanish Tax Agency quarterly or monthly, depending on the level of activity of the business.

Purchasing health insurance

Self-employed individuals in Spain must purchase health insurance through the public insurance scheme or a private health insurance provider. This is mandatory and provides access to the Spanish healthcare system.

Other mandatory insurances

Depending on the nature of the business, other mandatory insurance policies may be necessary. For example, businesses that employ staff must have workers’ compensation insurance. Other types of mandatory insurance may include professional liability insurance or public liability insurance.

Understanding and complying with tax and insurance regulations in Spain is an essential aspect of running a successful business. Seek the help and advice of professionals when necessary, and make sure to keep accurate, organized accounts to simplify the process.

Business culture in Spain

Starting a business in Spain requires understanding the local business culture. Doing business in Spain is based on personal relationships, so it’s important to establish a good rapport with potential partners and clients.

Business Etiquette

  • Make sure to dress appropriately for business meetings. Business attire is typically conservative, but it varies depending on the industry.
  • Spanish business culture places a high value on punctuality, so it’s important to arrive on time for meetings and appointments. However, it’s not uncommon for meetings to start a few minutes late.
  • When greeting someone in a business setting, it’s common to shake hands and use formal titles such as «Señor» or «Señora.»
  • Small talk is an important part of building relationships in Spain, so don’t be afraid to ask about someone’s family, hobbies, or interests.
  • Business cards are still important in Spain, so make sure to bring plenty to distribute at meetings.

Networking and Relationship-Building

Networking and relationship-building are crucial to doing business in Spain. Here are some tips for building a strong business network in Spain:

  • Attend networking events and business conferences to meet potential partners and clients.
  • Join business organizations or chambers of commerce to access exclusive networking opportunities.
  • Be active on social media and professional networking platforms to connect with potential partners and clients.
  • Build personal relationships by inviting potential partners and clients to lunch or dinner.
  • Learn Spanish to improve communication and build stronger relationships.

By understanding and adapting to the local business culture, you can establish strong relationships and build a successful business in Spain.


Setting up a branch or subsidiary of a foreign company in Spain

Foreign companies looking to expand their business in Spain can choose to set up a branch or subsidiary, which offers certain advantages over other options such as setting up an LLC. A subsidiary is a separate legal entity established under Spanish law, while a branch does not have separate legal personality. A subsidiary provides limited liability protection to its owners and may enjoy tax benefits. A branch is easier to set up than a subsidiary and can save on capital requirements, but it does not offer limited liability protection.

Starting a non-profit company in Spain

Non-profit companies in Spain are known as associations, and they are governed by the Spanish Civil Code. An association can be created by two or more individuals who share a common interest or goal. Associations can be involved in a variety of activities such as cultural, educational, or environmental. To set up an association, a person or a group of people must draft and sign the statutes, and register at the relevant regional government office.

Setting up an offshore company in Spain

An offshore company in Spain is a company that is registered and operates outside of Spain, but has a Spanish presence. It can be a good option for companies engaging in international trade. The primary benefit of setting up an offshore company in Spain is that it can save the company money on taxes. However, the process of setting up an offshore company can be complex, and it is important to seek the guidance of a professional service such as BCN Business Services.


Due to the nearly infinite types of potential businesses, as we represent more than 450 on the Costa del Sol, we can strongly recommend you to contact  info@igleas.com    or Whatsapp  34 656 98 0000, for any clarification you may need.

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