Healthplan Spain


Guide To Work Visas In Spain Expat Tips

With its vibrant culture, delicious food and glorious year-round weather it’s really no surprise that thousands of people look to live and work in Spain each year

Many will come here to start their own business or become self-employed freelancers, whereas others will apply for a job in Spain and work as an employee.

However, it’s important to note that if you are a non-EU national, you will need to apply for a Spanish work visa first in order to legally work here.

Below we cover the subject of work visas in Spain and give you all the information you need before starting that new business venture or applying for your dream job.

You will learn more about:-

  • What is a work visa?
  • Who needs a work visa?
  • Work visas for employees
  • Work visas for the self-employed
  • Work visas for seasonal workers
  • Work visas for au pairs
  • The EU Blue Card
  • Working holiday visas (Youth Mobility Visa)
  • How much the different work visas cost
  • How to apply for a work visa
  • And lots more..

Let’s take a look!

What is a work visa for Spain?

If you are from outside of the EU, you will not be able to legally work in Spain unless you are granted a work visa. An employer will not be able to employ you and you won’t be able to work as a self-employed freelancer.

There are many different types of work and employment visas in Spain and which one you need will depend on the employment you wish to undertake and the duration of your employment.

Thousands of people are granted a work visa in Spain each year. As of May 2022 there were 2,426,625 foreigners registered and making social security contributions. Of these, 1,576,892 were third-country nationals from outside of the EU.

Of these, the largest number of workers by nationality is from Romania with 348,126 social security affiliates. This is followed by Morocco (310,691), Italy (156,681), Colombia (112,349) and Venezuela (111,683).

In terms of regional employment, Catalunya has the largest number of foreign affiliates with 490,400. This is followed by the capital city Madrid (418,787) and Andalucia (260,566). Valencia is another popular region for foreign workers with 204,984 followed by the Balearics with 93,082.

Data from the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations also shows that in May 2022 there were 396,916 self-employed foreigners in Spain making it the perfect choice for those wanting to be their own boss.

Who needs a work visa?

If you are from the EU, EEA or Switzerland then you are in luck as you will not need to apply for a work visa. You can simply move to Spain, work and study without any restrictions.

However, if you are over 16, from outside of the EU (Third-Country National) and wish to work in Spain, you will need to apply for one.

If you wish to take up an employed position in Spain, you will also need a work visa although your employer will need to apply for this on your behalf.

Self-employed autonomo workers will also need to apply for a visa before undertaking any business here as will temporary seasonal workers, au pairs and those looking for a working holiday.

If you are a British national, you will need to apply for a work visa as the UK is no longer a member of the European Union.

You can see a full list of nationals who need a visa to enter Spain here.

Work visas for employees (Highly Skilled Workers)

If you are considered to be a highly skilled worker and your Spanish employer would have difficulty in finding someone in Spain with the required qualifications to fill the position, then you may be able to apply for a work visa.

Your line of work would have to be listed in the ‘Shortage Occupation’ category by the government. If it is, your future employer can request a work permit from the Ministry of Labour (Delegación Provincial del Ministerio de Trabajo e Inmigración) on your behalf.

Once the application has been made by your employer, you will be sent a registration number and a copy of the application. You will need to apply for your work and residency visa from the consulate or embassy in your home country as doing so from Spain is not permitted.

You can find out more about work visas for employees here.

Work visas for the self-employed

If you are a self-employed freelancer and want to move to Spain and work for yourself, then you may apply for a self-employed work visa.

The visas last for one year and may be renewed as long as the conditions are met.

There are actually two stages to getting a work visa for self-employment. These are:-

  1. Apply for your initial residence and self-employed permit.
  2. Apply for your self-employed work visa

You will need to produce lots of documentation when making your application in person which may include:

  • A completed national visa application form
  • Passport size photo
  • Valid passport
  • Pass a criminal record check
  • Medical certificate to show you do not have a disease that could impact public safety.
  • Payment of the correct fee.

Once you have been granted your residency and self-employed permit, you will have one month to apply for the work visa.

Remember that all applications have to be made in person at your local Spanish consulate or embassy in your home country.

As a rule, all decisions have to be made within one month.

Once you arrive in Spain, you have 90 days to register with the social security system before starting your self-employed activity. You must also, within one month of registering with the social security office, apply for a TIE foreigner's identity card at the foreigner's department of your local police station.

Learn more about Spain's self-employed visa.

Work visas for seasonal workers

If you wish to work in Spain on a seasonal basis, for example, during the peak holiday season, you will need to apply for a work visa.

The process to apply for a seasonal work visa is similar to applying for a long-term employment visa with a few differences.

Unlike long-term work visas, they will usually be valid for the duration of your contract and for a maximum of 9 months. Your employer will also need to apply to the Ministry of Labour for your visa.

Furthermore, suitable accommodation must also be pre-arranged and your travel costs covered by your employer. You will have to return to your home country once the contract has ended.

Once your work permit has been approved, you will need to apply for a work and residence visa yourself at the nearest consulate or embassy in your home country.

Work visas for au pairs

If you are aged between 17 and 30, you may apply for a special au pair visa.

Once you have found a host family, you may apply for the visa at your nearest embassy or consulate in your home country.

There are a number of specific requirements which you will need to meet if you are to be granted an au pair visa in Spain. These are:-

  • Be in possession of an agreement with the host family which lays out the details of the work you will be providing.
  • Prove that you can support yourself during your time in Spain.
  • Have private medical insurance cover.
  • Be living at the same address as your host family.
  • Services or housework will only be complementary to the main purpose.
  • You will not be paid for your services.

Au pair visas in Spain have a validity of one year but may be extended further if the conditions continue to be met.

The EU Blue Card

The EU Blue Card is a work and residence visa for those who are highly qualified.

The aim of the Blue Card is to enable EU countries to employ highly-skilled third-country nationals who may wish to work in Europe.

The permit is for professionals who have spent at least three years completing a higher education qualification. People who have a minimum of 5 years of professional experience at a high level are also eligible for the Blue Card.

The contract must show that the applicant will earn more than 1.5 times the average Spanish wage. This means the required salary is €33,908 per annum.

The salary minimum is reduced to 1.2 times the national average if the skills are in demand.

The employer will need to make the application on the worker’s behalf. The applicant will also need to apply for a visa from the embassy or consulate in their home country.

Blue Cards have a validity period of one year, however, they may be extended if the initial conditions are met.

According to the European Commission, just 39 EU Blue Cards were issued in Spain in 2019.

Under national law, the maximum processing time to issue a Blue Card in Spain is 45 days.

Learn more about the EU Blue Card.

Working holiday visas

Spain currently has a number of agreements in place with specific countries under its youth mobility program.

The youth mobility visa allows young people to work in Spain temporarily on a casual basis.

The countries that have an agreement in Spain are:-

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • South Korea

The main criteria for applying for a youth mobility visa are:-

  • You must not have participated in the youth mobility program before.
  • The main reason for your trip to Spain must be recreational. Employment must be your secondary reason.
  • The initial job you will be doing in Spain cannot be filled by a Spaniard.
  • You have obtained the necessary work permit (NIE).
  • You will not be working for more than six months.
  • You will not work for the same employer for more than three months.
  • Your initial employer meets the conditions for hiring foreign workers for holiday employment.
  • You have arranged suitable accommodation in Spain.
  • Your travel costs are fully covered.
  • You have taken out private health insurance.
  • Once your contract ends you must return to your home country.

The maximum validity of the visa is one year and may not be extended.

The maximum employment period is six months and you may only work for the same employer for a maximum of three months.

Learn more about the Youth Mobility Visa.

How much does a work visa cost for Spain?

This can of course vary and may also depend on the country you are applying from.

  • Employed - 203.84
  • Self-employed - 203.84 euros
  • Highly Skilled Worker (Salary less than 2 x SMI) - 203.84 euros
  • Highly Skilled Worker (Salary more than 2 x SMI) - 407.71 euros
  • EU Blue Card - 418 euros (Renewal 112 euros, Replacement 112 euros)
  • Youth Mobility Visa - Between 80 and 170 Euros.

Residency Visa Payment Link -
Work Visa Payment Link -

How do I apply for a work visa?

In most cases, you will need to apply for a work and residency visa via the Spanish consulate or embassy in your home country.

If you are applying for an employment visa, your employer will also need to apply for a work permit from the Ministry of Labour.

To locate your nearest consulate or embassy, please use the following official page.

How long does it take to get one?

Work visas can take a while to process. If you are applying for an employment visa, the Ministry of Labour will have to approve the application first. Once this is done, the Embassy or Consulate will need to issue it to you. The process can take around one month according to the official website.

Checking the status of your application

You can check the status of your visa application by visiting the following official web page.

Digital Nomad Visas

Spain is also currently in the process of finalising a new digital nomad visa.

This particular visa is designed to attract remote workers to the country with the government offering generous tax breaks over the first five years.

It will mean that those from the UK and other non-EU countries will be able to live and work in Spain for up to 5 years. Once you have been in Spain for five years or more, you may also be able to apply for permanent residency.