Remote workers in Spain

Making the first step toward the life of a digital nomad in Spain is exciting. You might have seen people on social media who balance an adventurous lifestyle and remote work. They explore endless opportunities by having the freedom to move and desire for changes. You don’t need to be an influencer to have an exact lifestyle. It is an accessible reality when you are free to change, discover, and live your life to the fullest. 

At Lexidy, we received numerous requests from people who work remotely and wish to stay in Spain shortly after visiting. For us, it is important to make law simple. Below our lawyers explain the easiest way to become a digital nomad in Spain.  


Table of content:

  1. Who is a digital nomad? 
  2. Best destinations in Spain. 
  3. Visa options for digital nomads.
  4. Non-lucrative vs Business Activity Visa. 
  5. How to set up a Business Activity Visa: Step-by-step.
  6. Sum up. 

Under the time of IoT (Internet of things), digital nomads uncover a new horizon toward the modern work model.

Who is a digital nomad?

A digital nomad is a person with endless curiosity to explore the world while having work fully via the internet. Not a movement, but the mindset to have the freedom to live life to the fullest.  

Originally the term “nomad” is old as humanity. Back to the 8,500–6,500 BCE, a nomad was a member of the community who didn’t have fixed habitation. This included groups of hunter-gatherers who had to change places several times depending on the best advantage of Flora and Fauna. As you see, It took some time since it has shifted online. Accordingly, the whole idea would extend even more in the future,.  

At present, the world of digital nomads is expanding, they uplifted the new possibility of work without physical presence. Most commonly they are Programmers, Developers, Designers, Marketers, Entrepreneurs, and Writers but can be any who can turn the work to the remote. The continuous shift to online will make it accessible to more jobs each year, therefore, prioritizing comfort and performance more than a specific location to work from. 

Best cities in Spain for digital nomads:

In Spain, the prime point of Europe, if tourists could stay inside the country after vacation, they probably would. The overwhelming Spanish culture accompanied by convenient location and climate makes the country the desired place to live. From South Andalusia to North-west Galicia and East Catalonia to Central Madrid, Spain charms with cultural diversity and switching landscapes. 

  • Barcelona.

Barcelona is next to the Balearic Sea, also known as a tech hub because of the entrepreneurial society. of people from all over the world, but first has to be counted as the city of outstanding architecture.

Feel welcome to visit our office in Barcelona, we are just in the center, a few steps away from Casa Batllo. Our Immigration, Tax, and Real estate lawyers will help you with the desired goals.  

  • Madrid. 

The heart and the most business city to find in Spain. Madrid has an intense rhythm where people balance hard work with large leisure afterward. The greatest place for art and music devotees.  

Visit us in the capital! Lexidy in Madrid helps with a wide range of legal services.

  • Seville.

Seville is a port city located next to Portugal with a mix of mountains and shores. The city makes it accessible to travel all around Spain and neighboring countries

  • Valencia  

Not far from Barcelona, moderately big Valencia brings slow-pace to Spanish life. Best niche city to enjoy your time on the beach and find alike people in the English-speaking community.

  • Malaga

Malaga is also a port city, small in size but is the second after Barcelona in terms of technology development. 

Lexidy Law Firm – authoritative guide to set up life in Spain and Portugal. We share our knowledge about the law to make your goals easier to reach. 

Visa options for digital nomads in Spain 

Answer: The only legal way to be a digital nomad on immigration and tax level is to apply for a Business Activity Residence Visa.

When it comes to the legislative procedure of being a digital nomad in Europe, the answer is a bit complex. Because this trend is fairly new to Europe, most of the European countries did not adopt precise rules. While there are numerous accessible visa types, it could be difficult to apply for the right one. The most common question we receive is regarding two similar visa types. Down below would explain do and don’t about choosing a visa to Spain for remote work.  

Our lawyers advise you to take time and analyze visa options before applying, otherwise, it can take appropriate turns. In the article, we advise only legal procedures that are legitimate only for digital nomads wanting to move to Spain. 

Non-lucrative Visa 

In Spain, there is only one legal way of getting a residence permit for digital nomads and it is a Business Activity Residence Visa. Debulking the myth, it is not the Non-lucrative Visa. To end the common fallacy, we have asked the heads of the Immigration and Tax departments at Lexidy to give explanations from a legislative viewpoint. 

What is a Spanish non-lucrative visa? 

  • Non-lucrative visa created especially for non-working individuals (with a reliable, ongoing source of income and substantial savings) who wish to stay in Spain for more than 3 month period.

Source: Ministry of Immigration in Spain, http://www.exteriores.gob.es/

Even knowing the existing opportunity for the non-lucrative visa, now the government requires more information than before, lowering the possibility for this alternative to zero

Expert opinions from Immigration and Tax departments: 

Laura Fusté, the Head of the Immigration department, commented the reason Why Non-lucrative is not a viable option:

“You cannot perform any activity that requires to be registered with it, at least during the first year. Consulates are starting to ask proof that the person requesting the Non-Lucrative Residency Permit is not going to work while residing in Spain. In this case, it will be difficult to apply for that permit due to that limitation.

 Example of limitation: If you establish a company during the first year you will not be able to be the Administrators until you modify the residence permit into a residence and work permit, and you will be able to do so when the time for the renewal of the permit comes.

 By extension, you cannot work with any Spanish company or Spanish clients.”

Apart from Immigration, Jose García, Head of the Tax Department, comments that the issue of digital nomads raises a serious problem in tax matters (and linked to what Laura has commented):

“If they are freelancers, when they become tax residents in Spain (for spending more than 183 days in Spain), they have to register with Social Security.

I think that the figure of the digital freelance, at the fiscal level, is very unclear, apart from touching, in practice, de facto fiscal statelessness, taking advantage of the fact that they fly under the radar. 

Precisely what is attractive about the digital nomad novelty is the lack of state control. Which is illegal.”

Working for a company remotely is something that it is not expressly prohibited by law, however, as explained, Consulates understand that with a Non Lucrative permit it is not possible to work at all, even if the person does not have to register with the Spanish Social Security, so this is something to bear in mind.

Business Activity Visa  

The legal possibility to work as a digital nomad is to have a Business Activity Visa, this type of visa proves Consulate your occupation purposes. Our immigration lawyer, Mónica Isern López, explains the procedure in details:

Which companies can facilitate?

“It is possible to work remotely as an employee for a company established outside Spain, as long as the company has no clients in Spain and does not offer services in Spain.”

You will not have to register before the Spanish Social Security System, nonetheless, it is not advisable to mention this intention to the Consulate, as they might reject the application immediately.  

Digital nomads and freelancers need specific assistance in terms of the law, which Lexidy able to provide:

In case you are considering being an employee for a foreign company, at Lexidy we can advise you on the two best viable options to achieve the outcome you are looking for.  

What is possible is to work remotely as an employee for a company established outside Spain. Also as long as the company has no clients in Spain and does not offer services in Spain.

The Business Activity Residence Permit would allow you to reside and manage your business in Spain from the very first moment.

Step 1. Register as an Autonomo:

If you are seeking to work as a freelancer to foreign companies, you will be qualified as an Autonomo/Autonoma. This is the opposite of the application of a Non-lucrative Residence Permit.

Step 2. Social security Number

You will have to register as such before the Spanish Social Security. In the latter case, you will have to apply for the so-called Residence and Work Permit as a Self-Employed (Business Activity Residence Permit).

Step 3. have a business plan.

The Business Activity Residence Permit would allow you to reside and manage your business in Spain from the very first moment. 

However, it requires that you have a Business Plan, that you prove that the business project is viable in Spain, that you have the financing to realize it, and that you have started applying for all the necessary licenses at the respective Town Hall in Spain, if necessary.

Step 4. Form your company:

 In addition, if you are going to settle a company in Spain, this must be constituted before applying for the Business Activity Residence Permit and this involves the fact that you will have to appoint a legal representative of that company in Spain, which must be a Spanish citizen or a resident in Spain.

 Furthermore, you will have to find a place from where you will conduct the activity in Spain, which can be an office, a co-working space, or your home if your work can be done from there. As a general rule, the application for this residence permit is more complicated than the Non-Lucrative Residency Permit which is why we suggest applying for the Non-Lucrative Residence Permit if the applicant is not in a hurry to start working in Spain. However, beware of faults that can happen with the Non-Lucrative visa that we explained above. 

Please note that, after having resided in Spain for one year, residence permits can be modified to other residence permits. Thus, if the applicant is the holder of a Non-Lucrative Residence Permit and after the first year of residency in Spain wishes to start working in Spain, there is the option to apply for a modification of the visa from Spain, as long as they comply with the specific legal requirements regarding the permit the person wishes to apply for.

Make us know about your goal and we will create the plan! 

Tell us your goal and we will prepare the plan

Sum Up

Whether you are choosing Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, or any other city in Spain, be conscious about law procedure. The country is borderless of possibilities and discoveries, surely here you find something for yourself. A Business Activity Visa may be complex in the first place, but the one to deliver you the best experience. 

When people wonder what can be the best time for a change, the unswear will be tomorrow which rarely happens. If you are an active person with a mindset toward changes and endless curiosity, make the first step NOW, and Lexidy will help you throughout your adventure.

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