Table of contents
- The new digital nomad visa compared to other spanish visas
- Who can qualify for a digital nomad visa?
- Proof of remote worker status
- Requirements on the company employing the digital nomad
- Minimum income requirement / sufficient funds
- Criminal record certificate
- Health insurance
- Where to begin the application process for a spanish digital nomad visa?
- Documentation required
- Process time
- Family members
- Visa application fee for the spain digital nomad visa
- For how long is the spain digital nomad visa valid?
- Special tax regime = tax benefits for digital nomads in spain
- Frequently asked questions
- How much is considered as sufficient funds for my digital nomad visa application in spain and how do i prove i have them?
- Will my dependents have to present a separate application for the digital nomad visa in spain?
- Can you apply for the spain digital nomad visa while abroad?
- Can i use another visa to live in spain and work remotely?
Spain has recently joined the ranks of EU countries offering a digital nomad visa scheme, positioning itself to compete with other Southern European nations like Greece, Malta, Cyprus, and Portugal in order to attract international talent by offering a residence permit to remote workers.
The proposed digital nomad visa was created under Law 28/2022 which amended and updated Law 14/2013 and creates the new figure of 'teleworker' and is a strategic move to draw in investments, particularly those focused on innovation. This comprehensive mobility package, which encompasses immigration, taxation, and commercial and civil regulations, is designed to attract foreign talent and streamline their admission and residency process.
It has been common for foreign citizens to effectively work from Spain, but not declare the fact to the authorities. Once their stay extended beyond the period established by the 90-day rule in Spain. This new visa therefore offers these workers the opportunity of living legally in Spain while permitting Spain to benefit from increased income tax revenue.
This new digital nomad visa is especially relevant in the current business climate where remote workers are substituting their desk-bound colleagues, a process that has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Companies worldwide are now looking to hire employees from all over the world, and digital nomads are no exception. As is the case with most other Spanish visas, digital nomads become a Spanish tax resident and will be required to register with the Spanish tax agency. As a result, they will enjoy the protection of Spanish employment and social security legislation.
This article will explore the benefits of Spain's visa for digital nomads, making a case for why it is attractive to potential applicants interested in the possibility of working from Spain. We will discuss the process for applying for the visa, who can apply, and how to maximize its advantages.
This article is designed to help you understand the implications of obtaining a Spanish Digital Nomad Visa, along with providing insight into the benefits it provides and how best to make use of them.
1. The new digital nomad visa compared to other spanish visas
It is important to note that digital nomad visas differ from other types of Spanish visas available, such as the non-lucrative visa and work visas and, indeed, the regular tourist visa incorporated into most people's national passports, that permit them to stay in Spain for a period of up to 3 months.
Prior to the Spanish digital nomad visa, either the visitor would leave after 3 months (or, stay illegally with the potential consequences this implies) or seek one of the more popular visas sought by non-EU citizens, being the non-lucrative visa or the variety of work or entrepreneurship visas in Spain.
A Spanish non-lucrative visa grants foreign nationals a residence permit in Spain, but does not allow them to take up any kind of paid employment. It is therefore more appropriate for those considering retirement in Spain. By contrast, the digital nomad visa allows individuals to reside in Spain while working remotely for clients located in their home country or elsewhere.
Meanwhile, a work visa in Spain requires an individual to have a job offer from a Spanish employer prior to application - and such a job must be one that has been officially recognised as being difficult for employers to fill from the local population in Spain, or has some other exception such as requiring high-level skills or educational achievements.
An entrepreneur visa is one of the more complex visas to obtain, requiring the setting-up of a business in Spain that is truly innovative (read: new technologies), likely to hire locals and a comprehensive business plan detailing how these requirements will be achieved.
A student visa in Spain does permit a limited amount of work as long as it is relevant to the course being studied and the work is not necessary to support the student - it is more like work experience, however, it can eventually permit the student to remain in Spain and find work, though subject to caveats and requirements.
Accordingly, for a person who wishes to simply move to Spain, and continue in their current line of work, for an unspecified amount of time, Spain's digital nomad visa is the perfect option.
Under any of the regular visas mentioned above, permanent residence may be achieved once the visa holder has spent a sufficient amount of time in Spain, and continues to comply with the requirements of their visa, and may even obtain Spanish citizenship if they fulfil the requirements for a Spanish passport.
2. Who can qualify for a digital nomad visa?
If you are a non-EU citizen who wants to work remotely for companies outside of Spain, that is to say have residency in Spain while working for foreign companies or clients, then the new digital nomad or international teleworker visa could be your ticket to living and working in Spain.
The new law creates a visa which allows nationals of third countries to exercise work or professional activity at a distance for companies outside of Spain through the exclusive use of a computer, telematics, and telecommunication means and systems.
Who, then, is a teleworker? A teleworker is a worker authorized to stay in Spain to carry out work or professional activity at a distance for companies outside the national territory using a computer, telematics, and telecommunication means and systems. However, the workers must be authorized by their employer companies.
Teleworkers are not just employees, however. A self-employed person can be considered a teleworker as long as they provide their services to companies outside of Spain and the Spanish companies they work for do not represent more than 20 percent of their overall income. They must also prove that they had a commercial relationship with these companies for at least three months before applying for the residence or visa.
So, while in theory either employees or self-employed workers may apply for the digital nomad visa, what other requirements must they comply with in order to successfully obtain a visa?
3. Proof of remote worker status
One of the most important requirements for a remote work visa is proof of teleworker/ remote workers' status, such that any work that you do carry out while in Spain, is capable of being done in a remote fashion i.e. from Spain and that the applicant is qualified to do this work.
This requirement may be summarised as follows:
To have a graduate or postgraduate degree from recognised universities, vocational training schools, and business schools. If such a degree is not available, a minimum professional experience of three years must be proven.
Have a previous and continuous employment or professional relationship of at least three months with one or several of the companies in the group for which you are teleworking.
Demonstrate that the company or companies that you work for have been in existence for at least one year (this is to prevent applicants from creating their own company and claiming to be an employee).
The manner in which visa applicants can demonstrate their qualification to do the work envisaged is not clearly specified by the enacting legislation, but effectively can be offered in a number of ways: educational attainment, a professional practice certificate, or indeed three years of work experience in the sector.
4. Requirements on the company employing the digital nomad
Another important part of the process for obtaining a digital nomad visa is the responsibility of the company that employs the digital nomad or for which the digital nomad provides services. The company is required to fulfil the following requirements:
Accreditation of real and continuous activity for at least one year by the foreign company or group of companies with which the worker maintains an employment or professional relationship i.e. demonstrate that they have been in business for at least 1 year
Authorization, by the company, for the possibility of carrying out work remotely from Spain, accrediting for this purpose the job profile, terms, and other conditions under which the professional activity will be carried out remotely.
Document Social Security coverage, including health coverage (if applicable), of the worker, through a certificate of coverage where there is a national agreement on Social Security between Spain and the issuing country) or accreditation of the company's registration with the Spanish Social Security and the commitment to register the worker as well. For most digital nomads from outside the European Union, the latter is the typical requirement.
5. Minimum income requirement / sufficient funds
All applicants need to show that they are able to support themselves financially after they move to Spain. In effect, the applicant must show income of around €2,300 per month or €28,000 per year in order to qualify for the digital nomad visa.
If bringing family members, for the first member of the family (usually spouse/partner), you must demonstrate additional income of 75% of the current Official Minimum Salary (the Spanish minimum Spanish income for 2023 is €1080 per month) and 25% IPREM for other members (often children).
6. Criminal record certificate
Applicants must present a certificate demonstrating the absence of a criminal record over the 5 years prior to the application. If the applicant has spent time in multiple countries during this time, they must present a criminal record certificate for each country they have lived in.
7. Health insurance
As you will be resident in Spain, you will need to obtain suitable health coverage while being resident in the country. This will either be in the form of private health insurance or, if you are making social security contributions as a result of working in Spain, public health cover.
In this regard, employees of companies outside Spain must register their workers in the Spanish social security system.
While there is some debate as to whether digital nomad visa holders should require private Spanish health insurance - since, after all, they will be contributing to the Spanish social security system. it seems that some type of private health insurance is currently a requirement to obtain the visa initially.
8. Where to begin the application process for a spanish digital nomad visa?
There are effectively 2 choices here: from Spain, or outside Spain.
If you are in your country of origin, you can apply for the visa or residency at the corresponding Spanish consulate. If you are a tourist or otherwise have legal residency in Spain, you can apply online at the Immigration unit for large companies.
Our experience assisting clients to obtain the digital nomad visa has been that the process is more efficient in Spain. However, bear in mind that, where you will be working remotely for a company outside of Spain, as an employee, part of the process needs to be arranged with the company that employs you. This may be more difficult to achieve from Spain.
Therefore, while the application process for the visa is best done from Spain, it is important to have agreed all of the details with your employer before making the application, and this may be more feasible to achieve in the country where you have been regularly employed.
Another benefit of applying from Spain, is that the type of visa approved is a 'residency visa', which has a duration of 3 years, while the visa issued by a Consulate has a duration of one year (which can be renewed, while in Spain, for the residency visa for an additional 3 years). Once the digital visa holder has spent the 3 years in Spain, they can renew for a further period of 2 years, at which point, should they wish, they can apply for permanent residency in Spain, negating the requirement to apply for any further visas.
Note that if you are living in Spain irregularly, that is to say, without a visa, you cannot apply for the digital nomad visa from Spain. You will have to return to your country of origin and make the application through the nearest Spanish consulate.
9. Documentation required
- You will need to provide the following documentation:
- Copy of your complete passport or valid travel document
- Proof of payment of the visa fee (form 790/038)
- The appropriate Spanish Visa Application forms signed by the teleworker (MIT Form)
- Accreditation of employment/professional relationship of at least three months with the foreign company/companies
- Letter from the foreign company authorizing the development of remote work from Spain
- Copy of the degree related to the performance of the position or, if applicable, minimum substitute experience in functions analogous to the work to be performed
- Certificate of Social Security coverage (if there is an agreement with the country of origin) or registration with the Spanish Social Security
- Current criminal record certificate from the country or countries where you have resided during the last five years
- Public or private health insurance
10. Process time
If the digital nomad visa application is made via the Unit of Large Companies in Spain, it should take no more than 20 days for the residency visa to be issued. The process time via consulates for a digital nomad visa is meant to be 10 days, but the actual process time will depend very much on the Consulate and can take much longer.
11. Family members
Your spouse or common law partner and children can come with you to Spain, or if you are already in Spain, they can obtain the residency as family members of a digital nomad. In addition, parents may accompany the digital nomad, if they are accredited as being economically dependent on the visa applicant.
Also important, family members of the digital nomad can work in Spain, as employees or self-employed workers, with the same rights as any Spanish national. For more details on the Rights of Non-EU Spouses of EU Citizens in Spain.
12. Visa application fee for the spain digital nomad visa
For applications for the digital nomad visa for 1 year, via Spanish consulates the administrative fee is around €60. The precise amount and the manner of payment (credit card, bank transfer etc) vary as between countries/consulates.
For the application for 3 year residence permit under the digital nomad visa programme directly in Spain, the fee is €73.60.
Note that in both cases, if the application is rejected, the fee is not returned.
13. For how long is the spain digital nomad visa valid?
As stated above, the initial term of validity of the visa is 1 year if applied for via your nearest Spanish consulate. If you apply directly while in Spain, legally resident under a tourist visa, for example, a digital nomad residency visa is issued instead, for a term of 3 years.
Either visa can be renewed, though care must be taken to make the application to renew in time, such that the new visa is approved before the current/old one expires, since once the current visa expires, you are technically living irregularly in Spain and may not apply for a new visa.
14. Special tax regime = tax benefits for digital nomads in spain
A major benefit* for holders of digital nomad visas who have not been tax resident in Spain during the previous 5 years, is that taxation is handled under the non-resident income tax system , rather than the resident tax system (IRPF).
Accordingly, digital nomad visa holders pay a flat rate of 24% on the first €600,000 of income resulting from their work. Above this amount, the tax rate is 47%. This compares to the progressive tax system that often implies a higher level of taxation. So, if you are earning above, approximately, €55,000 per annum, you will be better off under the Spanish non-resident tax system.
The non-resident tax system - also know colloquially as the Beckham Law - also exempts the digital nomad visa from taxation on income from outside Spain, except where that income relates to work income. This implies also that there is no requirement to submit a 720 tax return form, to declare foreign asset holdings.
This special tax regime may be enjoyed for a maximum period of 6 years. For more information, see our article on tax in Spain.
*Please note, this special tax regime is only available to those digital nomads who work in Spain as employees, and not those who plan to become self-employed in Spain.
15. Frequently asked questions
16. How much is considered as sufficient funds for my digital nomad visa application in spain and how do i prove i have them?
All applicants need to show that they are able to support themselves financially after they move to Spain. In effect, the applicant must show income of around €2,300 per month or €28,000 per year in order to qualify for the digital nomad visa. If bringing family members, you must also demonstrate income of 75% IPREM (minimum Spanish income, currently €1080 per month) for the first member (usually spouse/partner) and 25% IPREM for other members (often children).
17. Will my dependents have to present a separate application for the digital nomad visa in spain?
The application for a visa for the family members of the digital nomad can be made together with the application for the main visa.
18. Can you apply for the spain digital nomad visa while abroad?
You can apply for the digital nomad visa either in Spain or from any Spanish consulate around the work. However, when applying while in Spain, it must be while legally resident there. This may be under the tourist visa typically included in most countries passports. If you apply for a residency visa
19. Can i use another visa to live in spain and work remotely?
The golden visa in Spain permits the holder (but not family members) to live and work in Spain - whether locally or remotely. However, the applicant must invest a minimum of €500,000 buying property in Spain, so the digital nomad visa is rather more accessible to most applicants.