girl working on the computer to get her work visa spain

Non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens moving to Spain to work will need a Spain work visa to work in the country. There are 9 Spanish working visas to choose from, and picking the right one is crucial. The process can be complicated, but this article is your Spain Work Permit step-by-step selection and application guide.

Remember: EU/EEA citizens can work in Spain without a work permit, but you must register as an EU citizen in Spain.

9 Spanish Work Permits – Choose the right one

1) Spain Freelance Visa / Self-Employed / Autónomo Work Permit (permiso de trabajo por cuenta propia)

If you are self-employed and plan to work with Spanish clients, a Spain Freelance (autónomo) Visa is a good option. You’ll need a business plan, experience, and some capital.

Note: Spain’s Digital Nomad Visa may be a better option if your clients are not Spanish.

How to apply:

You’ll need to apply in the country where you live at your nearest Spanish consulate or embassy. You cannot apply for Autónomo visas in Spain. Your Spanish Immigration lawyer can assist with documentation and translation requirements.

Standard documents for your Autónomo application:

  • Your CV/resume showing relevant experience and qualifications + supporting documentation.
  • A viable and detailed business plan + supporting documentation.
  • Proof of enough capital to 1) support yourself and 2) launch the business + supporting documentation.
  • Spanish Private Health Insurance (click the link for details on the correct type of policy).
  • Passport, application form EX-07, medical clearance, and a clean police record.

Validity: 1 year, renewable. After five years, you can apply for permanent residency in Spain.

2) Spain Work Permit: Employee (permiso de trabajopor cuenta ajena)

This option is for people employed by a Spanish company. You’ll need a qualifying job offer that meets two conditions.

  1. Your occupation is on the list of in-demand jobs and skills. In Spanish, the el catálogo de ocupaciones de difícil cobertura.
  2. The company cannot fill the role with an EU citizen.

How to apply:

  1. The company that offers you the job will apply for your work permit – you cannot do it yourself. The Ministry of Labor (Delegación Provincial del Ministerio de Trabajo e Inmigración) manages these applications.
  2. You must have a visa before you travel to Spain. And you’ll use the approved work permit as part of your visa application documentation at the consulate.

Validity: 1 year, renewable. After five years, you can apply for Spanish permanent residency.

Need help with your Spain visa?

Our Immigration Partners, Raquel and her team, offer our clients a 30-minute consultation. They will recommend the best visa path for you, explain all the steps involved, and answer any questions that you have.

3) Highly Skilled Work Permit

The Highly Skilled Worker Visa is similar to the standard version but with some key differences. Highly qualified professionals with senior roles in Spain can qualify more easily. To qualify:

  1. The company must be a significant employer.
  2. You have been offered a senior management or highly skilled technician position.
  3. The salary meets the required level for the role and industry.


The job is a qualifying role as a researcher, skilled technical professional, lecturer, or trainer. Your employer must be a University, Research Institute, or government department.

There are four main advantages to these roles.

  1. The job doesn’t need to be advertised to EU nationals.
  2. The processing time is much quicker.
  3. While the company still makes the application on your behalf, you can be in Spain.
  4. You can change roles without reapplying for new immigration permission in Spain.

How to apply:

  1. The company that offers you the job will apply for your permit. The Ministry of Labor (Delegación Provincial del Ministerio de Trabajo e Inmigración) manages applications.

Validity: 1 year, renewable. After five years, you can apply for permanent residence (PR).

4) Entrepreneur Visa (Visa de emprendedor)

The Spanish government encourages innovative business founders. So, if you have a great idea, you can move to Spain.

To qualify, there are two requirements.

  1. You have a detailed business plan showing your innovative business roadmap.
  2. The business will have positive socio-economic benefits for Spain. Examples of these benefits could be job creation, opening new markets, or expanding a strategic sector.

How to apply:

  1. You can apply in your home country or in Spain.
  2. The business plan is key to a successful application, and a good Spanish Immigration Lawyer will know how to format this for a successful outcome.
  3. The visas must be issued in 10 working days once the Business Plan is approved. ENISA reviews all business plans, and they have up to three months to make a decision.

Validity: Valid for two years and renewable. You can qualify for Permanent Residency and Spanish Citizenship via the Entrepreneur Visa.

READ ALSO: Relocating to Spain Budget – What Will Your Move Cost?

5) EU Blue Card

The EU Blue Card covers many of the same people as the Highly Skilled Work Permit. One significant advantage of the EU Blue Card is European Union mobility. After two years of working in Spain, you can move to any other EU Country.

How to apply:

  1. The company that offers you employment will submit your EU Blue Card application.

Validity: 1 year, renewable. After five years, you can apply for permanent residence (PR).

6) Seasonal Work Visa Spain

This may be your best option if your job in Spain lasts less than nine months. As well as a job offer, you’ll need proof of accommodation and travel arrangements to return home.

How to apply:

  • The company that offers you the job will apply for your seasonal permit.

Validity: maximum nine months.

7) Spain Student Work Permit

You can work up to 20 hours per week as an international student studying in Spain. However, your employer must still apply for the permit on your behalf.

Validity: The duration of your studies or the job, whichever is shorter.

Note: An internship that is part of your studies does not require permission, even if the internship is a paid role.

7a) Spanish Job Search Visa (estancia por estudios superiores que cesa, para búsqueda de empleo)

This visa isn’t an actual work permit, but it can help you get one. It is for people who have studied in Spain on a student visa. When you finish your studies in Spain, this visa gives you one year to live in Spain while you find work. Note: within the year, you’ll need to qualify for one of the other options listed here.

Validity: 1 year, not renewable.

READ ALSO: Spanish University Guide for International Students

8) Spanish Digital Nomad Visa / Remote Work Visa

The Spanish Digital Nomad Visa only allows for some types of work. So, although you live in Spain, your income should come from abroad. This visa suits:

  • Remote workers employed by non-Spanish companies.
  • Freelancers with non-Spanish clients and customers.
  • Location independent business owners.
  • Owners of foreign companies.

See our detailed guide to learn more about Spain’s Digital Nomad Visa.

Validity: 1 year, renewable. After five years, you can apply for permanent residence (PR).

9) Spanish Working Holiday Visa

Some lucky young people qualify for a one-year Spanish Working Holiday Visa. You’ll need to be a citizen of Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, or New Zealand. The age limit is 18 – 30 (except Canadians, who can be up to 35 as part of the Youth Mobility Program).

Validity: 1 year, not renewable.

You can Work in Spain on a Golden Visa

All Spanish Golden Visa holders and their families can legally work in Spain. See our Spain Golden Visa guide for all the details.

Who needs a Spanish Working Visa?

Non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens need specific immigration permission if they are:

  • Employees of a Spanish company.
  • Highly skilled professionals moving to Spain for work.
  • Freelancers with Spanish clients.
  • Entrepreneurs starting a business in Spain.
  • Remote workers employed by a non-Spanish company.
  • Sole proprietors.
  • Foreigner Seasonal workers.
  • Working holidaymakers.

In short, if you are working and getting paid for that work, you’ll need immigration permission that allows that activity.

Note: US and UK citizens (after BREXIT) looking to live and work in Spain have the same requirements as any non-EU citizen.

People with exemptions

The Spanish government allows some groups to work in Spain without a permit. You may still need a standard or specific visa to enter Spain.

  • EU/EEA/Swiss citizens.
  • Family members of EU/EEA/Swiss citizens.
  • Permanent Residents of Spain
  • Family members of a Spanish work permit holder.
  • Visiting artists, clergy, trade union officials, etc. (in some cases).
  • Visiting university professors/researchers/technicians (in some cases).
  • Volunteers in unpaid positions.

Documentation for your Work Visa Spain

To obtain a valid work visa, you must meet specific requirements set by the Spanish government. Remember, each work visa has particular conditions.

There are some documents that you’ll need for most applications.

  • An offer from a qualified employer or certificates of employment
  • Proof of education, professional credentials relevant to the position, or experience.
  • Proof of your identity (usually a valid passport).
  • Passport-sized photos.
  • Bank statements.
  • Application form.
  • Proof of qualifying health insurance (see which Spanish Private Healthcare policies qualify).
  • Receipt of the application fee.

Note: Some documents must be originals, some need official translation, and some require the Hauge Apostille certification.

When you arrive in Spain

You’ll need to complete two additional administration tasks when you arrive in Spain.

  1. Register for NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero – fiscal ID number) and TIE (Tarjeta de Residencia residence card).
  2. Register with the General Social Security Fund (Dirección General de la Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social – TGSS). There is a different process for employees vs. self-employed.

Spanish Work Permit Law

Four separate laws govern this area of Spanish immigration.

  • Entrepreneur’s Law 14/2013
  • European Union Law
  • General Spanish Immigration Law
  • Start-Up Law 28/2022

This means that the requirements and standards vary, depending on which law covers your particular work permit in Spain.

Ready to start living and working in Spain?

Expats from around the world move to Spain to work. But, working illegally in Spain carries short-term and long-term risks for you and your family. Our Spanish Immigration Lawyer partner will help you identify the perfect option to ensure your immigration status is correct. And they’ll save you time and money by ensuring your work permit Spain application has the best chance of success.

FAQ – Work Permit Spain

How do you get a work permit in Spain?

There are two main options 1) have a qualifying job offer or job or 2) start a business or freelance in Spain.

Can you modify a visa to a Spain Work Visa?

In many cases, yes, you can modify your status. For example, you can move from a Spanish Non-Lucrative Visa to a work permit after one year.

How hard is it to get a work permit in Spain?

The qualification and application process is complex for most work permits in Spain. We advise using an expert Spanish Immigration Lawyer to avoid delays and disappointment.


  1. Hi Alastair,

    Fantastic site, the best one I have come across, and I have look at hundreds! Having all the contacts that you would need, on one site, is amazing, and the fact you have vetted them and verified their professional standing, is wonderful! I have just purchased you ‘Cost of Living’ Calculator and it has given me a great overview, of costs.

    My question is, if myself and my family (Wife/Daughter 7 years old) came to Spain on the NLV and then after one year, I managed to get a Spain Freelance Visa / Self-Employed / Autónomo Work visa, what would then happen with my wife and daughter, would they be able to move visa with me, or would they need to stay on the NLV?

    If they had to stay on the NLV how would that work ie me being on a different visa to them, for renewals etc.?

    Many thanks in advance.



    1. Hi Rob. Thanks for the very kind words – I’m delighted the Cost-of-living calculator is useful… I just checked this with our immigration lawyer partner. Your wife and daughter could remain on the NLV residence permit or transfer to your new permission as dependents. If they move to the latest permission, they can work in Spain. All the best, Alastair

  2. Hi Alastair,

    Thank you for your response, very interesting the different views that different lawyers have, but I think reading the reviews and qualifications of Raquel. She and her team, would be the ones I am most inclined to trust to supply accurate information and use when I decide to make the move.

    For example, I was advised elsewhere, that my wife and daughter couldn’t join me on the Spain Freelance Visa / Self-Employed / Autónomo Work, for at least one year, but it looks like Raquel hasn’t advised any time stipulations, so I could move them onto the new visa the same time as I moved onto it?

    Many thanks in advance

  3. Hi alistair – I live in spain already and applied from spain and expected 3 years but only for got one.

    I want to change to self employed and need tax advise and extension!, which consultation shall I book? I am English

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