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How to set up an online shop in Spain

E-commerce in Spain is growing with more online shoppers than ever. If you want to get in on the action, here's everything you need to know, from how to set one up, to the online rules you need to follow and your tax implications.

How to set up an online shop in Spain
Many online shoppers in Spain continue to buy products from abroad even though they would prefer to purchase them from Spanish online businesses. (Photo by JOSEP LAGO / AFP)

If you know of a product that’s in high demand in Spain but in short supply, you have some capital available, plenty of business savviness, and experience dealing with Spanish customs, selling goods online can be a good way to make money.

Many people in Spain still purchase goods from foreign websites and sometimes have to pay extra shipping or customs costs as a result, even though recent studies have shown that Spain-based online shoppers would rather buy products from Spanish websites.

So there could be a gap in the market that you can fill. 

In a survey by Spanish logistics company Packlink in November 2021, eight out of 10 Spaniards said that they bought something online in the past month.

Spain is an attractive e-commerce destination because of this, and the fact that the market is still developing. According to Packlink, Spaniards spend the least on e-commerce out of countries in the EU – only 20 percent spend more than €100 per month online. In Fance it’s 27 percent, in Germany it’s 26 and in Italy it’s 25 percent.

Online fashion shops are the biggest e-commerce sector in Spain, but toys, hobby products and accessories are also popular. 

According to the Packlink study, the typical buyer is a man between 40 and 50 years old, who spends more than €50 a month on his online purchases and usually uses them to buy gifts, clothing or tech products.

How do you set up an e-commerce business in Spain?

There are various ways that you can get create your online shop in Spain. These include registering as self-employed or autónomo, as a limited company or by joining a cooperative. This will more than likely depend on what you intend to sell and how big your online shop will be. 

READ ALSO – Self-employed in Spain: What you should know about being ‘autónomo’

Inform the Agencia Tributaria 

Let the Tax Agency know that you setting yourself up as autónomo or creating a limited company by filling out forms 036 or 037 online. This will get you a número de identificación fiscal (NIF) or a provisional NIF (if creating a company). If setting up a limited company, you will need to do this at least 30 days before you incorporate your company.

If you plan to sell abroad and not just in Spain, you must also register with the Agencia Tributaria in order to be able to carry out intra-community operations and so that your VAT number will be recognised in other EU countries.

Sign the deed of incorporation
If you are setting up a limited company, you must sign the deed of incorporation in front of a notary. After this, you can apply for a definitive NIF (NIF definitivo) from the Treasury (Hacienda) within six months. 

Registration in the Mercantile Registry
If you have set up a limited company or have joined a cooperative, you will have to register your business in the Mercantile Registry or Provincial Commercial Registry in your local area. You will have 30 days to do this from the date you incorporated your company.

If you have logos or trademarks, you will also need to register these at the OEPM (Spanish Patent and Trademark Office) to protect your intellectual property rights. 

Register for social security 
Whether you are a sole trader or a limited company, you must make sure to register for social security and for Tax on Economic Activities. To register for social security number, you will need to fill out the TA1 online and submit your identification and NIE numbers, using a digital certificate. You can also apply in person at your local Tesoreria General de la Seguridad Social.

Remember that these processes can be quite complicated, particularly if you don’t speak Spanish well. Even if you do, it’s advisable to hire a gestor to help with these processes and ensure that they go smoothly and you have registered everything correctly.  

READ ALSO – Access all areas: how to get a digital certificate in Spain to aid online processes

Comply with regulations

Because your store is online, you will not have procedures related to opening licenses, instead you will have to make sure that you comply with specific regulations regarding the processing of personal data of potential customers, your cookie policy and consumer protection.

Comply with the LSSI

The LSSI is the name given to the law in Spain associated with electronic commerce and regulating it. This law sets out obligations that companies must respect based on the service or product they sell, and a series of rights for consumers. This includes things such as online advertising. The LSSI establishes the obligation for service providers to be able to clearly provide information about themselves and their company, should consumers wish to find out.

Things that you must provide in order to comply with this law are: 

  • Your name or company name
  • Your address or email address, so that customers are able to communicate with you.
  • Certificate of registration in the Mercantile Registry. 
  • In the event that your activity is subject to administration from a particular authority, you must provide information on your professional association and academic title.
  • Your tax identification number
  • Prices must be clear, indicating whether or not they include applicable taxes and, where appropriate, shipping costs too.

General Data Protection Regulation

You must also make sure that your website complies with the latest data protection regulations. 

Tax requirements

Companies that sell goods in Spain via an e-Commerce website are liable to pay VAT and income tax on their profits.

Autónomos are required to present their accounts quarterly, as well as the yearly Declaración de Renta or annual tax return. 

Remember that if you set up a company, rather than being autónomo, you will also have to present an annual Spanish corporation tax return and statutory accounts as well.

The tax rates in Spain are charged according to the income earned, varying between 19 and 47 percent. The general corporate tax rate is 25 percent. In certain cases, lower tax rates are applied for newly established companies. 

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Spanish government divided over proposed menstruation leave bill

Talk of abortion policy reform and proposed menstrual leave has dominated Spanish discourse this week, but it’s also dividing Spain’s coalition government.

Spanish government divided over proposed menstruation leave bill

Spain’s PSOE-fronted coalition government recently outlined proposals that have dominated public discourse in the country.

But the legislation, which would allow women over the age of 16 to get abortions without the permission of their parents and introduce ‘menstruation leave’ for those suffering serious period pains, has not only divided Spanish society but the government itself.

The proposals would make Spain a leader in the Western world, and the first European Union member state to introduce menstrual leave, and changes to abortion law would overturn a 2015 law passed by the conservative People’s Party that forced women aged 16 and 17 to obtain parental consent.

The wide-ranging bill would also end VAT on menstrual products, increase the free distribution of them in schools, and allow between three and five days of leave each month for women who experience particularly painful periods.

READ MORE: What are Spain’s abortion laws for foreign residents and visitors?

Menstrual leave

Ángela Rodríguez, the Secretary of State for Equality, told Spanish newspaper El Periódico in March that “it’s important to be clear about what a painful period is – we’re not talking about slight discomfort, but about serious symptoms such as diarrhoea, fever and bad headaches.”

“When there’s a problem that can’t be solved medically, we think it’s very sensible to have temporary sick leave,” she added.

Cabinet politics

The proposals are slated for approval in cabinet next week, and judging by reports in the Spanish media this week, it is far from reaching a consensus. It is believed the intra-cabinet tensions stem not from the changes to abortion and contraception accessibility, but rather the proposed menstrual leave.

The junior coalition partner in government, Podemos, largely supports the bill, but it is believed some in the PSOE ranks are more sceptical about the symbolism and employment effects of the proposed period pain policy.

Vice President and Minister of Economic Affairs, Nadia Calviño, said this week: “Let me repeat it very clearly: this government believes and is absolutely committed to gender equality and we will never adopt measures that may result in a stigmatisation of women.”

Yet Second Vice President and Minister of Labour, Yolanda Díaz, who is viewed as further to the left than President Pedro Sánchez and other PSOE cabinet ministers, is reportedly “absolutely in favour” of the measure to reform Spain’s “deeply masculinised” labour market.

Sources in the Spanish media have this week also reported that some PSOE cabinet ministers feel the proposed paid leave not only plays up to stereotypes of women, or stigmatises them, like Calviño says, but also places them at a disadvantage in the world of work.

Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá, stated that while the government should seek to improve women’s employment protections, it should also seek to boost their participation in the labour market under “better conditions.”

In that vein, some feel menstrual leave could be used a form of of employment discrimination similarly to how pregnancy has been historically, and the policy would, in that sense, actually be more regressive than progressive in enshrining women’s workplace rights. 

READ MORE: Spain eyes free contraception for under-25’s

Trade unions

Trade unions are also sceptical of the menstrual leave legislation. Cristina Antoñanzas, deputy secretary of UGT, one of Spain’s largest trade unions, has echoed those in the cabinet who feel the proposals could “stigmatise women.” She added that “it does women a disservice.”

Public opinion

A survey run by INTIMINA found that 67 percent of Spanish women are in favour of regulating menstrual leave, but also that 75 percent fear it is “a double-edged sword” that could generate labor discrimination.

The survey also found that 88 percent of women who suffer from disabling and frequent period pain have gone to work despite it. Seventy-one percent admitted that they have normalised working with pain.

Cabinet showdown

The proposed menstrual leave policy will be debated in cabinet next week when the Council of Ministers debates and approves the broader abortion and contraception reforms. According to sources in the Spanish media, and many cabinet ministers themselves, it seems a consensus on menstruation leave is a long way off.