Expat Essentials

With its new Digital Nomad visa, Spain is open to global talent

Good news for all those digital nomads who have their hearts set on living and remotely working from beautiful Spain: Their fantasy now has a firm legal basis that makes things easier for them and even for their families. However, there are certain requirements with which one must comply.

You can’t just pack your bags, move to Spain and set up shop.

After many drafts, debates and considerations, the law came into force on 23 December 2022, with the first applications this month. We will explain to you what exactly is involved, how to apply, for how long the visa is valid and what it costs.

Joining a global trend

Of course, Spain is not the only country that sees attracting non-European Union talent and remote workers as an economic benefit to both sides. Policymakers in Greece, Germany, Portugal and other countries are thinking along the same lines.

(See a complete list of global Digital Nomad visas here.)

In Spain, the new Digital Nomad visa is actually a startup visa, created to boost Spain’s digital sector, bringing in highly skilled internationals who will become founders – the Ley de Startups (Startup Law). But we will continue with the more familiar DN visa. In a nut shell, this visa is meant for non-Spanish nationals from any country in the world who are either self-employed or work for a company from a country outside Spain.

They cannot offer their services to a Spanish company under this visa. The work must be remote.

It’s not only economic benefit that prompts Spain to push forward with the DN visa legislation. Another factor is a problem that has affected the country for some time: the growing depopulation of rural areas. Italy has the same problem, which led to the 1 euro house schemes. Spanish officials hope attracting foreign digital nomads to less developed parts of the country, rather than the big cities or the Balearic or Canary Islands, will bring life and business back to these areas.

It might not have the hype, entertainment and nightlife of the big cities but rural Spain is very beautiful, the cost of living much lower and the pace slower. This is definitely a consideration for a freelancing digital nomad who also wants to bring the family. which is possible under the new visa.

What are the current requirements for the digital nomad
visa in Spain?

Foreigners from third-party countries (including the United Kingdom) may apply for this type of visa if they work for companies based outside Spain.

They must prove the following:

• They have worked remotely for at least a year.
• The work can be carried out remotely.
• They are under contract to a company with which they have had a professional relationship for at least three months prior to application and that the company permits remote working.
• They work as a freelancer with at least one company outside Spain and provide the terms and conditions of the remote work.

Another requirement is proof of your financial status and of accommodation, although short-term rentals will do. As for finances, you must prove that you have had a steady source of income for at least one year prior to your application and that you make twice as much as the average Spanish worker per month, currently between 2,100 euros and 3,000 euros.

Non-earning dependents will be taken into consideration, as will savings or whether you own property in Spain.

Health insurance is also mandatory. In much of the preliminary information, there seems to be a slight discrepancy between the right to work for a Spanish company. The rule is that your income from a Spanish company cannot exceed 20 percent of your total income. The reason is that the DN visa is meant to bring capital and investments to Spain and not to take work away from the local population.

There are several types of visas available, so you might already be working for a Spanish company under another visa.

Spain’s Digital Nomad visa is granted for one year, which means you don’t have to leave after 90 days under the current EU tourist visa. It can also be extended up to five years or more. As this is a brand new visa, it remains to be seen how it will work out and evolve.

Tax advantages

Digital nomads in possession of this DN visa enjoy tax advantages, as well. The reduced rate they are liable for as non resident tax payer is 15 percent of the first 600,000 for four years. When you have decided that you comply with the requirements and decided where to settle (as a suggestion only – Valencia, Tenerife or Gran Canaria) or work (see this post for co-working spaces), you need to know how to actually apply.

You can do so either from your country of residence or in Spain if you are already here. Spanish consulates abroad do not yet have application forms, so the best option seems to instruct a Spanish attorney (can be done remotely) who specializes in these matters and who will submit the paper work for you.

CostaLuz Lawyers are just one firm that offers these services. And here is another one – Balcells – with details on taxes.

As for the cost, we still need to wait until definite figures have been made public. CostaLuz lawyers
quotes 1,815 euros including VAT, but that includes their fee.

Finally, when you obtain the new Digital Nomad visa, this allows you to work remotely in any of the other EU countries, so a lot of freedom of movement … just what digital nomads are all about.

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See more of Inka’s work here in Dispatches’ archives.

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Inka Piegsa-Quischotte is an international attorney-turned-travel and lifestyle writer based in Spain. She has contributed to BBC/Travel, several in-flight magazines, TripSavvy (Spain) and TravelAwaits among many other publications.

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