Perhaps the biggest advantage of being part of the EU is the right to freedom of movement. This allows you to live and work in any of the member states with minimal paperwork. You don’t need a work permit and in most cases, getting a residence permit is quick and easy. But for non-EU nationals, it’s a very different story with much longer chapters and meatier content. And this is of course the book that UK citizens are reading if they want to live and work in Spain post-Brexit.
Now classed as ‘third-country nationals’, they no longer enjoy the given right to live and work in Spain. UK citizens now face the same scenario as Americans, Australians and Argentinians if they want to work or set up a business in Spain. In a nutshell, the process involves getting a visa outside Spain and then a residence permit once you arrive.
This is by no means an impossible task – thousands of visa applications are approved every year – but certainly an onerous one that involves a great deal of paperwork and time. Plus, there’s no automatic approval and you may find your visa application is rejected.
However, there are several options if you’re British and want to live and work in Spain post-Brexit. In this article, we list the main visa types available.
Did you know? Non-EU nationals cannot apply for any work or residence permits from within Spain; all applications must first be made at a Spanish consulate in your home country.
Visa to work as an employee
Known as a visado de cuenta ajena, this is perhaps the most difficult visa to apply for if you’re a non-EU national. However, the good news is that if your would-be employer really wants to you to work for them, they’ll do their best to satisfy the visa requirements.
First of all, your employer has to prove that your skills and experience are in short supply in Spain and that you have the right qualifications. They then have to show that there are no other Spanish or EU candidates who could fill your post. This involves advertising the job locally before they formally offer you the job.
Spain publishes a quarterly list of professionals in short supply in Spain. Read it here.
Your employer should then start the work visa application in conjunction in tandem with your own application. You need to complete form EX-03 and accompany it with your employment contract, a medical certificate and proof of a clean criminal record for the last five years.
Did you know? If you want to set up in one of the regulated professions in Spain (e.g. as a doctor, lawyer, architect or engineer), you will need to have your qualifications recognised. They will only be approved if they are the equivalent of those required in Spain. Recognition of qualifications is notoriously slow and can take up to two years.
Visa to work as self-employed
Known as a visado de cuenta propia, a visa to set up your own business or work as self-employed is not much easier than getting one to work for someone else. Nor do you have the advantage of an employer to help you.
The biggest step to setting up as self-employed in Spain is that you need to present a business plan. And a comprehensive one that includes all aspects of the business from how you plan to finance the first steps to developing it into a viable concern – your business venture in Spain must be profitable in three years. You need proof of financial backing, figures for expected returns and if applicable, an estimate of the number of jobs you plan to create.
You’ll also need proof of funds to support yourself (in addition to your business expenses). Plus, if you have premises or plan to open them, proof that you have started to secure them and proof of the stage the proceedings are at. You need to complete form EX-07 to apply for a self-employed visa to work in Spain.
Did you know? You have the option of getting approval of your business plan from an official organisation in Spain before you submit it with your visa application.
Known as the visado no lucrativo, this visa doesn’t allow you to work for a Spanish company or set up a company (or a branch of one) in Spain. It does, however, mean you can work for a non-Spanish company as long as your income comes from non-Spanish sources while you live in Spain. Bear in mind though that as a Spanish resident, you’ll also be tax resident. Paperwork for this visa is relatively straightforward as long as you have a bank account that is well in the black.
For this visa, you need proof of at least €26,000 in an account in your name, proof that you have somewhere to live or can pay for accommodation and private medical insurance. The policy must be with a Spanish company and valid for at least one year and with no form of copayment. You need to complete form EX-01.
Did you know? All documents that are not in Spanish (except your passport) must be translated and where necessary, be authenticated with the Hague Apostille.
Known as the visado de investor/emprendedor and as the Spanish Golden Visa, this is probably the easiest of all visa applications to make and get approved. But this one also comes with a caveat because it requires serious funds.
To obtain a Golden Visa, you need to invest in one of three options:
- Property worth at least €500,000;
- Spanish government bonds worth at least €2 million;
- Or shares in Spanish companies worth at least €1 million.
In addition, you need private medical insurance for at least one year, proof of funds to support yourself in Spain plus proof of the investment made, e.g. title deeds in your name.
The so-called Golden Visa has the additional advantage of offering you the right to live and work in Spain. And you don’t even have to physically be in Spain for the first year if you wish.
Did you know? The investor visa is retroactive and you’re eligible for it if you have met the investment requirements since 28 September 2013. So, for example, if you’ve bought property in Spain for at least €500,000 in 2017 and still own it, you can get this visa.
This might sound like a strange choice, but a visado de estudiante is an option if you want to teach English while you’re studying in Spain. You can work as an English teacher as long as you comply with the student visa requirements that include a letter of invitation from your chosen place of study, proof of funds to support you throughout your stay and a health insurance policy with international coverage.
The application process for a visa to live and work in Spain
Once you’ve submitted your visa application and all the required paperwork, you need to wait for a reply from the Spanish Consulate. Expect this to take up to three months.
When you get approval, you must go in person to the Consulate to have the visa stamped in your passport. Your next step is to move to Spain, usually within three months of getting the visa. Once in Spain, you must obtain a residence permit from the national police station within one to three months of your arrival depending on the type of visa.
The validity of residence permits depends on their type but are typically for one year and renewable for up to five.
As you can see, the scenario for UK nationals wanting to live and work in Spain post-Brexit has become complicated to say the least. Compared to the procedure just a few months ago it’s like night and day. However, two things are worth remembering:
- The procedure might be more onerous and take longer but getting a residence permit to live and work in Spain as a non-EU citizen isn’t impossible. If your paperwork ticks all the boxes, you’ll get the visa and by extension, the right to live and work in Spain.
- Brexit is very new and there may well be changes in visa and permit requirements over the next few months. Both the Spanish and British governments have expressed an interest in relaxing procedures, particularly with regards to the 90-day in 180 day stay restriction. And there’s every reason to think that other processes may also undergo changes. Until then, however, it is what it is!