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Spain’s new digital nomad visa: Everything we know so far

Spain's new startups law offers tax benefits and a special visa to digital nomads and remote workers who move to the country. Here we analyse all the information available on this advantageous permit for non-EU nationals.

digital nomad visa spain
Here's what remote workers and digital nomads need to know about Spain's new visa and tax breaks for them. Photo: Claudio CRUZ / AFP

Perhaps the most interesting draw of Spain’s new startups law is the creation of an exclusive visa for digital nomads.

In a nutshell, it will grant non-EU freelancers and remote workers entry and residency rights in Spain, with less bureaucratic obstacles than there currently are and enticing tax benefits.

There are plenty of other perks that Spain’s new law startups law will bring to foreign entrepreneurs, investors and startups (you can read about it in the link directly below).

READ MORE: 15 things you need to know about Spain’s new startups law

But in this article we will focus on the new law for digital nomads and remote workers, what we know so far and what still has to be confirmed before the bill is approved by the Senate and comes into force in January 2023.

The new legislation defines digital nomads as “people whose jobs allow them to work remotely and change residence regularly”. This may not seem particularly groundbreaking, but their recognition in the eyes of Spanish law is what has allowed for a new visa and tax category to be created. 

A new digital nomad visa   

The digital nomad visa, referred to officially as the international remote worker visa (visado para teletrabajadores de carácter internacional), is part of the new startups law which is expected to come into force in early 2023. 

This visa is particularly promising for non-EU digital nomads from countries such as the UK, US or Australia for example, as until now getting a residency permit to live and work remotely from Spain hasn’t been at all easy, with the best option being to apply for the self-employment visa which requires a business plan, proof of funds and guaranteed earnings and more. 

It will also be available for remote workers with a contract for an overseas company, so it’s not just digital nomads who freelance for several clients who can apply.

The Spanish government wants to remove the existing bureaucratic hurdles these international workers face in a bid to make “Spain a paradise for talent”.

The visa will initially be available for a period of one year, but it can then be renewed until reaching five years in Spain, at which point it will be possible to apply for permanent residency.

One of the visa’s requirements will be that applicants must earn at least 80 percent of their income from foreign companies.

It will also be necessary for those applying for the digital nomad visa to not have lived (been fiscal residents) in Spain for the previous five years.

International companies will be able to request a residency permit through the digital nomad visa for non-EU remote workers they wish to relocate to Spain, but these will have to be deemed highly qualified with either graduate and/or postgraduate studies or three years of relevant experience.

Applicants will also be able to get residency rights for their partner and children, although the specifics have not yet been released.

Spain’s Secretary of State for Digitization will work together with the country’s regional governments to implement this visa in the next three months. 

Taxes

It’s widely reported that Spain’s tax regime has dissuaded many international workers from setting up shop in the country up until now.

The new startups law addresses this with fiscal benefits for remote workers and digital nomads that move to Spain. In fact, they will pay less income tax than self-employed and contract workers that already live and work in the country.

New digital nomads will be able to pay Non-Residents Tax (IRNR) rather than the regular income tax (IRPF) Spain’s resident workers pay. Non-Resident Tax was previously only applicable to non-residents such as second-home owners, but an exception has now been made for digital nomad visa holders even if they spend more than 183 days a year in Spain and are therefore technically fiscal residents.

Furthermore, IRNR is generally 25 percent in Spain but this will be reduced to 15 percent for digital nomads and remote workers as long as they earn below €600,000 a year. 

Again, they will have to demonstrate that less than 20 percent of their income comes from companies based in Spain for this IRNR tax to apply.

This favourable tax rate will be available to them for four years. 

READ ALSO: What the experts think of Spain’s new law for startups and digital nomads

Minimum earnings and healthcare access still unknown

As mentioned earlier, Spain’s startups law is not in force yet. It’s at the final stage after being given the green light by the Committee on Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, the Spanish Cabinet and the Spanish Parliament.

The bill now only needs to be ratified by the Spanish Senate before being published in Spain’s State Bulletin and therefore being in effect, the expected date of which is on January 1st 2023.

By that point, some of the doubts that still exist about the digital nomad visa and its conditions should be clarified. 

One of these is if applicants will need to meet minimum income requirements to apply. It has been reported that this will be around the €2,000-a-month mark.

Another doubt that remains is what access digital nomad visa holders will have to healthcare in Spain. Will they need to get a private healthcare scheme as is required for non-lucrative visa applicants which can be expensive especially if you have pre-existing conditions? Will they be able to pay social security fees or the convenio especial pay-in scheme to access public healthcare? None of this has yet been mentioned by the Spanish government.

Member comments

  1. The text of the law says the specific requirements for the new visa will need to be spelled out by March 31, 2023.

    “«Disposición adicional vigésima. Desarrollo de instrucciones con los requisitos para los visados
    y autorizaciones de residencia a los que se refiere esta Ley.
    Se habilita a los órganos competentes para dictar unas instrucciones con los requisitos
    específicos que deberán cumplir los solicitantes de los visados y autorizaciones de residencia a
    los que se refiere esta Ley.
    Para la elaboración de estas instrucciones técnicas, el Gobierno constituirá un grupo de trabajo
    en el que participarán los ministerios con competencias en la materia. Dichas instrucciones
    deberán estar elaboradas a más tardar el 31 de marzo de 2023, y contener requisitos específicos
    adaptados para los solicitantes de visados y autorizaciones de residencia a los que se refiere esta
    Ley. Los umbrales de los importes económicos utilizados para evaluar los recursos económicos de
    los solicitantes se referenciarán al Salario Mínimo Interprofesional (SMI).»”

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WORKING IN SPAIN

‘Spain must invest in Spaniards rather than turning to migrants’: EU work chief

The European Commission’s head for jobs and social rights has said Spain “must first find a solution for young people, women and the elderly” with regard to its labour market and “see later if they need immigrants”.

'Spain must invest in Spaniards rather than turning to migrants': EU work chief

The European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit recently took part in a summit on job security in Bilbao, where he spoke with Spain’s Labour Minister and Second Deputy Prime Ministers Yolanda Díaz about the state of affairs for workers in the country. 

When discussing potential solutions to Spain’s high unemployment rate, Schmit explained “I would not exclude immigration, but when I analyse the data, I see youth unemployment of 30 percent, more than double the European average”.  

“The priority for Spain must be to invest in its people,” Schmit continued.

“They must first look at their labour market and find a solution for young people, women and the elderly. They will see later if they need immigrants”.

Despite high unemployment levels which currently amount to three million people, Spain has worker shortages in a wide variety of sectors. 

READ ALSO: The ‘Big Quit’ hits Spain despite high unemployment and huge job vacancies

The Spanish government recently changed its immigration laws to make it easier for employers to hire non-EU citizens for sectors with shortages, from waiters to plumbers, whereas previously recruiters were required to prove that they couldn’t find an EU candidate for the job and the skills shortage list was limited and outdated. 

READ MORE: How spain is making it easier for foreigners to work in Spain

In 2023, Spain’s Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration wants to hire 62,000 third-country workers to cover an array of construction and trades jobs, something the country’s Labour Ministry has not agreed to yet. 

READ ALSO – EXPLAINED: Spain’s plans to recruit thousands of foreigners for construction and trade jobs

The government also recently passed its new startups law to attract foreign investors, digital nomads and talent to the country.

Could Spaniards not be trained to do these jobs as Schmit alludes to? Currently, low wages and unstable working conditions are dissuading many locally trained professionals from staying.

This includes almost 20,000 doctors who have moved abroad in recent years as salaries in other European countries are significantly higher than in Spain, with a newly qualified doctor’s salary only around €1,600 gross per month.

Staff shortages in the health sector are not helped by the fact that foreigners with non-EU qualifications wait for several years for their qualifications to be recognised in Spain through an unnecessarily laborious administrative process known as homologación. This applies to a number of regulated fields, from engineering to dentistry, all of which face shortages. 

READ MORE: How Spain is ruining the careers of thousands of qualified foreigners

Spain’s Socialist-led government has partly addressed some of its labour market issues by reducing the rate of temporary contracts and increasing the minimum wage (SMI), but voices within the opposition have accused Sánchez’s administration of “dressing up” the dire reality.

When asked about the rise in minimum wage, Schmit said that he believes “it will not mean significant changes for Spain, which already has a tradition of updating the minimum wage on a regular basis… but the government must take into account factors such as the cost of living and the economic context”.

“Spain must question whether the SMI allows for a decent life or creates poor workers. Its economy cannot be supported by low wages and low productivity,” he continued.  

When asked if salaries and inflation have to go hand in hand, Schmit argued “wages must be set by collective bargaining. We are experiencing very high inflation because of the explosion in energy and food prices. If there is a large lag between wages and inflation, there will be an impact on demand and the risk of recession will increase”.

With regards to pensions, Schmit explained: “I don’t think that pensions are very high in Spain and if you leave a gap between the rise in benefits and inflation, you can create a situation of poverty among the elderly. Spain has a disadvantage in that it has one of the fastest-ageing societies… The solution is to modernise the economy to make it more productive and attract more people to the job market”.  

Despite these issues, the commissioner acknowledged that the Spanish labour market has surprised many with its resistance this year. “Employment will remain strong if there is no deep recession,” he said.  

“The national plan for access to European funds has a good combination of measures to invest in green energy, digitisation, education and public employment services… Spain experienced its economic miracle due to the real estate boom, which exploded, and now it has to transform to go in the right direction”.

According to a report carried out by human resources company Hays on work trends in Spain in 2022, 77 percent of Spaniards surveyed said they would change jobs if they could. Furthermore, 68 percent of them confessed that they are actively looking for another job and the main reason they argue is to get a better salary. 

According to Eurostat data from January 2021, 37 percent of Spain’s workforce is overqualified, 17 percent higher than the EU average.

READ ALSO: Why more people than ever in Spain are overqualified for their jobs

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