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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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For members


KEY POINTS: What changes in Spain in July 2022?

July sees the start of the summer holidays in Spain and brings with it new crisis handouts, VAT cuts on energy bills, travel chaos and a possible deal on UK driving licences. Join The Local Spain as a member to find out about this and plenty more.

KEY POINTS: What changes in Spain in July 2022?

€200 crisis payment available in July 

As part of their new draft of measures to help those struggling with the rising cost of living, the Spanish government announced they would give a one-off €200 handout to the most vulnerable individuals.

The payment plan is set to be activated this month and you can find out who is eligible and how to apply for it here.

According to Spain’s Tax Minister María Jesús Montero, approximately 2.7 million people in Spain will be able to benefit from the scheme. Individuals can request the €200 payment, as can families, but only one payment per household is allowed.

VAT on electricity bills cut by half 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez recently announced that the government would apply a further reduction in VAT on electricity bills, which has now been approved by the cabinet. This means that a VAT reduction, from 10 to five percent, will be applied to electricity bills from July onwards.  

Find out how much you could save on your electricity bill with the new VAT discount here

Travel chaos continues

In the lead-up to the summer holidays, there has been travel chaos across Europe, including in Spain, due to flight cancellations, staff shortages and strikes. Unfortunately, the travel misery is only set to continue into July as several Spain-based cabin crew, including those from easyJet, Ryanair and Lufthansa have announced strikes.

EasyJet staff are scheduled to go on a nine-day strike on July 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 15th, 16th, 17th, 29th, 30th and 31st. Meanwhile, the Ryanair strike, which started on June 24th will continue on July 1st and 2nd. Over 54 flights have already been cancelled by the low-cost airline and more than 300 have been delayed.

German carrier Lufthansa and its budget airline brand, Eurowings are also planning to cancel more than 3,000 flights this summer due to both staff shortages and strikes. This is expected to affect flights from the hubs of Frankfurt and Munich to Spain, among others. 

Could there finally be a deal on UK driving licences?

The British Ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott recently shared his latest update on the driving licence negotiations between the UK and Spain, indicating a possible agreement to have affected drivers back on the road by the end of July 2022.

“The UK and Spain are now in agreement on the core issues that have been problematic and we’re now very close to finalising the actual text of the agreement,” he explained.

This will be a great relief for many British residents in Spain who were unable to exchange their licence for a Spanish one and haven’t been allowed on the roads since May 1st 2022.

Scorching weather returns to Spain in July

After a brief respite from the mid-June heatwaves, the hot weather is set to return in July. According to the weather site Meteored, the first week of July will see storms and unpredictable weather in the north of the country, while temperatures could reach over 40°C in the south of the country around Córdoba and Seville.

The middle of the month from July 11th to 17th is set to see temperatures rise again. It’s likely that much of Extremadura and Andalusia will experience temperatures around 40°C, while it could also reach 38°C in Bilbao and Madrid.

The last two weeks of July will get even hotter with Meteored predicting the hottest temperatures of the whole year. Temperatures are expected to be above normal in all regions apart from along the Cantabrian coast and in the Canary Islands.

Summer sales go into full throttle

July 1st sees the official start of the summer sales throughout much of Spain, although many stores have started even earlier. With rising costs due to inflation, this is the time of year to benefit from some of the biggest discounts.

Amazon has two days scheduled for its sales from July 12th-13th, while H&M and all the retail stores belonging to Spanish clothing giant Inditex (Zara, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Pull & Bear and Stradivarius) are also due to have their sales this month.

After the start of the sales, you’ll see signs for “segundas rebajas” (second sales), then “terceras rebajas” and finally “remate final” (final push), where discounts progressively go from 30 percent to 40, then 50 and finally down to an incredible 70 percent price reduction. 

Imserso holiday scheme for pensioners kicks off 

Imserso is a social scheme offering holidays to the elderly, which aim to offer subsidised trips to pensioners. Applications for the vacation scheme this year are open from June 27th to July 19th and usually run during the low season from October. Find out how to apply here.

Depending on the dates you go and the type of accommodation you stay in, you will usually have to pay between €115 and €405 for the trip.

Vehicles in Spain need to have Intelligent Speed Assistance

New cars sold in Spain and across the EU must have automatic Intelligent Speed Assistance technology from July 6th as part of the General Safety Regulation.

All newly launched models will need to have Intelligent Speed Assistance systems installed as standard. The idea is to limit speeds and warn drivers to slow down if they’re over the legal speed limit.

Festivals in Spain in July

July sees a whole host of festivals and celebrations across the country. Most famous are the San Fermín Running of the Bulls, held in Pamplona from July 6th – 14th and the Fiestas de Santiago Apóstol, held in the Galician city on July 25th.

Other festivities taking place in July include Bilbao’s BBK music festival from the 7th to the 9th and the Moors and Christians parades in Villajoyosa from the 23rd to 24th, commemorating the battle of 1538.

Pride celebrations are also set to return in July. Madrid’s LGBTIQ+ festival will take place from July 1st to 10th throughout many areas of the city but concentrated around Chueca.

New law to improve rights of domestic workers

A new law could be approved this month to improve the rights of domestic workers so that they have the same rights as other workers, such as the right to unemployment benefits and proper wages.

A third of the 536,100 domestics (mostly women) who work in Spain are not signed up to Spain’s social security system, according to the country’s Labour Force Survey. Two out of every three have earnings around the minimum wage bracket.

Early last year the Spanish government sent out letters to Spanish households who employ workers to warn them of their obligations.