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Spain’s Start-up Law: What It Means and How It Benefits You as a Digital Nomad

Nacho Rodríguez

Nacho Rodríguez

CEO & Fundador de Repeople

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If you are a digital nomad and would like to work remotely from Spain, you now have it much easier thanks to the recently approved Start-up Law, which covers everything from tax benefits to provisions for obtaining a visa – one that can even be extended beyond a year.

Here at Repeople, we were thrilled when this new law was passed, and we wanted to provide you with a brief summary of the reasons behind the law and the benefits it will have for our community of digital nomads. That way, you can get the information you need without having to sift through more than 45 pages of legislation. So, let’s take a look!

The Reasons behind the New Law

First, we need to make two things clear: 

  • We are not legal experts, so if you do have any specific questions, we would encourage you to consult a professional for advice.
  • We will only be focusing on those sections of the law that concern digital nomads, not those that regulate the establishment of start-ups or investments.

 Right, that’s our disclaimer out of the way; now, let’s examine the reasons behind the new law.

Practically the first point the law makes is that it aims to ensure the “attraction of talent and investment through the creation of ecosystems favorable to the establishment of entrepreneurs or remote workers, known as digital nomads.”

Basically, the idea is to attract highly qualified, international professionals with entrepreneurial skills or resources to invest in Spain, which will then boost the labor market and the local economy. 

But what makes Spain an attractive prospect for these types of people? 

There have always been plenty of reasons, as the law itself recognizes:

  • A high standard of living: people in Spain tend to enjoy a good work-life balance.
  • A safe destination: Spain, especially the Canary Islands, is one of the safest places in the world.
  • A pleasant climate: Spain enjoys milder temperatures than many of its neighbors, and it’s no secret that the Canary Islands boast the best climate in the country.
  • Good Internet speeds: practically the whole country is now connected to fiber-optic broadband, including rural and remote areas.
  • A nascent creative industry: in the Canary Islands, the audiovisual industry in particular has grown significantly, helped by initiatives such as the Gran Canaria Film Commission.
  • A favorable ecosystem for digital nomads: this is what we at Repeople strive to achieve on Gran Canaria – to ensure digital nomads have the coworking and coliving spaces they need (managed by us, of course) and create a vibrant community that is enriched every day by the arrival of new people from all over the world.

The question is: If these conditions already existed, what was stopping more digital nomads from coming to Spain? The answer is simple: visas and taxes.

Why It’s Now Easier for You to Get a Visa

Until now, digital nomads who wanted to work from Spain had the following options:

  • Non-EU citizens: obtain a tourist visa and stay in Spain for a maximum of three months, although strictly speaking this was not the correct approach, since remote workers are not tourists. 
  • EU citizens: those from countries within the Schengen Area could settle in Spain for three months, but if they wanted to continue working after that, they had to obtain a certificate of residence and prove they had the financial means to support themselves.

What Does the Law Say Now?

  1. Any qualified professional with a university degree, professional training, or at least three years of professional experience can apply for a visa.
  2. Foreigners who are not resident in Spain can obtain a visa to work remotely for a period of one year (although this can be extended under certain circumstances).
El Cabo Coliving - Lex Thoonen
Photography - Lex Thoonen

There Are Now Even More Incentives for Foreigners to Work Remotely from Spain

  • Remote workers in Spain can now register as employees (as long as their work is done exclusively via computer, telephone, or another means of communication), with reduced fees and withholding rates, depending on their income, starting at 19%.
  • They can register as entrepreneurs, subject to a favorable report issued by the public entity ENISA.
  • Families can also benefit from the new tax provisions: these extend to digital nomads’ children (under the age of 25) and their spouses, provided they have not been resident in Spain in the last five years, they do not receive income from a Spanish company, and their taxable income does not exceed that of the main digital nomad.

In short, whether you are a digital nomad looking to enjoy a high quality of life without the red tape, a telecommuter employed by a foreign company, the founder of a start-up, or an investor, it’s never been easier for you to live your dream and set up here as a remote worker for the long term.

How to apply for the visa

  • Option 1: Get your standard visa from Spain with your tourist visa and stay 3 years teleworking here. Apply online through this link.
  • Option 2: Get your visa from the consulate/embassy of your home country. It will be valid for 1 year but it can be extended to 3 years.

If you are an employee:

  • 80% of your income must come from foreign companies.
  • The company you work for must be based outside of Spain.
  • You must have a contract of at least 1 year with this company.
  • You must have worked in this company for at least 3 months.
  • You must have studied at a prestigious university, business school, or vocational school. Otherwise, you must have at least 3 years of (demonstrable) experience related to the job.
  • You need an official criminal record certificate from your country and a responsible declaration that you have not committed any crime in the last 5 years.
  • You must take out private health insurance that covers you throughout the national territory.
  • You must prove that you have a bank account with at least €25,000 and €9,441 for each family member that comes to Spain with you.
  • You have to fill in an application form (for the time being, only available in Spanish).
  • You have to pay a compulsory fee (a digital certificate or a permanent key is required).
  • Lastly, you have to go to your local police station to pick up the official visa.

If you are self-employed:

  • In addition to the above procedures, you should take this into account:
    • You must work for a foreign company that has been established at least 1 year ago.
    • This company must provide a document stating that teleworking is allowed for your position.

How long it’ll take to have the visa

In only 20 days you should get the license to reside in Spain.

What do you think – are you ready to start living the dream? Because we can help you make it happen! At Repeople, we manage coworking and coliving spaces on Gran Canaria created specifically for digital nomads. Email us at we@repeople.co and we’ll give you all the help you need to organize your stay.

Nacho Rodríguez

CEO & Fundador de Repeople

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