What many digital nomads have been waiting has finally become a reality. The new digital nomad visa has been published and is now available, and foreigners wishing to move remotely from Spain can now start their applications.
What’s next is a complete guide that will show you all the requirements for this new residency, all its tax advantages (and how you can save money with it), and many other legal tips you must know before applying.
Hence, if you want to start working abroad in a country that offers the perfect living conditions without the 3-month constraint of a tourist visa, keep reading!
Legal background that regulates this remote work visa
In 2013, the Spanish government published the Entrepreneur Law, a regulation that was intended to attract foreign talent and investment to Spain. With it, the entrepreneur visa, the golden visa and many other residency figures appeared.
But that law was not enough.
With that same drive and with a very similar aim, the government now publishes a new law, this time focusing heavily on startups, talent, and innovation.
A law that is much more adapted to the current market needs, called the Startup Law.
Its goal is to set Spain as one of the leading countries in attracting entrepreneurs, investors, and qualified workers. That creates the perfect mix as a country, as Spain also offers everything you may need when it comes to finding the ideal living conditions (especially for remote workers).
In this other article about the new Startup Law, we talk much more in-depth about how this new regulation brings crucial and beneficial tax measures and makes it much easier and straightforward to set up a company in Spain, as well as fostering investment in tech startups.
Nevertheless, our focus in this article is different.
Because perhaps the most important measure of the Startup Law is the one that focuses on recovering and bringing new international talent to the country, favoring the establishment of remote workers and digital nomads.
And that is done through the new digital nomad visa.
What is the visa for digital nomads in Spain?
The digital nomad visa is a residence permit that can be extended up to 5 years and that will allow non-EU citizens to live and work remotely from Spain (that is, legally operating as a digital nomad in the country).
Yes, to work remotely!
Finally, foreigners who wish to move to Spain and keep working for a company abroad, or who have clients spread all around the globe, will find a residence permit that is perfectly tailored to their needs (instead of applying for a non-lucrative visa which in fact that not allow them to work).
One of the great advantages of this residency is the double application option:
- On one hand, you can apply directly from Spain with a tourist visa, getting directly your 3-year card
- But, on the other hand, it is also possible to obtain a 1-year visa from your country of origin (in the Spanish consulate) so that you can enter Spain and modify later on to this card for 3 years
Do these years count for nationality?
The answer is yes. The years on this 3-year card (and its subsequent renewals) count for both Spanish nationality and permanent residence (which you can get after 5 years as a remote worker or digital nomad in Spain).
Apart from the tax advantages that we will explore later in this post, this permit will also allow you to include your spouse and children in the same application; thus being able to move with your family to Spain.
But that’s not all, because it’s included in the Entrepreneurs Law, you will also benefit from a fast-track resolution in just 20 days, and the applicable administrative silence is positive (so if you have no response within this period, your application is considered finally approved).
In addition, you will be able to move freely throughout the EU with this residence card.
As we mentioned, this visa is geared towards non-EU citizens, as Europeans can work remotely for up to 6 months in the country (and if they wish to prolong their stay, they just need to obtain their resident NIE).
Let’s now explore its requirements so that you can perfectly understand if this is the right option for you.
Requirements for the digital nomad visa
Next is the complete list of requirements that finally apply and that you must fully understand.
But before going into detail with each requirement, you should keep in mind that there are two different profiles of foreigners who can obtain this permit (with slightly different requirements):
- Employed workers whose company allows them to travel and work remotely from another country (in this case Spain)
- Self-employed workers with several clients spread all over the world or with different sources of income derived from online activities but spread outside Spain
Hence, if you want to apply for a remote work visa in Spain:
- The company/s for which you are currently working (or have a working relationship as a freelancer with), must be located outside of Spain
- Incomes received by Spanish companies (or in Spain) can’t represent more than 20% of the total
- You must demonstrate that you have been working for your company or having a freelance relationship with your clients for at least 3 months prior to your application
- Contract with that same company for at least 1 year
- You must have a yearly salary of €31,752, which is €2,646 per month
- You have two different options to demonstrate that you have sufficient experience and education to be able to complete the application. Either demonstrate 3 years of work-related experience prior to application, or be a graduate or post-graduate from a reputable university, vocational training, and business schools of recognized prestige
- You can’t have criminal records, nor have entry to Spain prohibited. For that, you must submit your criminal records certificate with a minimum validity of 90 days, and they must be legalized and apostilled.
- Submit a declaration of no criminal record for the last 5 years
- You will have to fill out the application form (you can download it here)
- Pay the corresponding administrative fee 790 038
- Hire private health insurance, with full coverage throughout Spain
And, finally, we find a difference depending on whether you work for a company as an employee or are a freelancer:
- If you have a contract with a foreign company (as an employee), it will be essential that this company has been operating for at least 1 year prior to your application. And, besides that, the company must state that your position allows remote work and that they specifically allow you to do so
- If you are a freelancer, you must be working for at least one company (that must be outside Spain), and it will be through the terms and conditions of your contract that the possibility to work remotely is specified
Tax benefits when obtaining your digital nomad visa
Apart from all the residency benefits seen so far, one of the main appeals of this new permit comes from the tax side.
The extra argument created to make this permit even more advantageous is the special tax regime that will allow digital nomad visa holders to save taxes.
Basically, and as long as you are not an independent freelancer but work remotely for a company abroad (that is, you are an employee), you will be taxed through an improved Non-Resident Income Tax Regime.
When you fully understand how taxes in Spain for foreigners actually work, you can easily grasp that paying non-resident income tax instead of the regular income tax that residents must pay allows you to pay much LESS for the income you generate.
In case you haven’t been in Spain for the past 5 years (instead of 10, as the general rule states); you will be allowed to pay a flat tax rate of just 24% on your income, instead of a progressive rate that can reach up to 48%.
In order to be considered as a non-resident for tax purposes, you will have to initiate a separate and different application process than the one you complete for the residency process, and you will do so with the Spanish Tax Agency during the 6 months after you obtain your residency authorization.
This, in addition to allowing you to pay only 24% of income derived from work up to € 600,000, will eliminate the need to pay wealth tax or have to make the informative declaration known as model 720.
Finally, digital nomad visa holders will be able to request the deferral of the IRNR in the first and second year with a positive taxable income (without interests).
This advantageous tax regime will be extended for 5 years as long as you maintain your residency as a digital nomad, and then switch to the general regime.
Can I work IN Spain with the digital nomad visa?
So far we have mentioned how the digital nomad residency allows non-EU citizens to work remotely from Spain.
While that accounts for working in Spain for a foreign company, can you work in Spain for a Spanish company or client?
The answer is yes, but with an important limit. You can also for work a Spanish company as long as a) you maintain the relationship with the foreign company that allowed you to obtain this visa; and b) the income you generate from the Spanish company does not account for more than 20% of your total income.
When will this new law and residency come into effect?
After months of months waiting for this moment…
The new visa for remote workers is already available! Published on the 22nd of December, you can now start your application and benefit from this visa.
How to apply for this visa
You have two different options, both directed at the UGE:
- Apply for the digital nomad visa from your country of origin. You would get a 1-year visa (that can be modified to residency later on)
- directly from Spain, as a tourist, and obtain a 3-year permit (renewable for 2)
You will enjoy a fast-track application, meaning that you will get a favorable response after just 20 days.
Then, you will need to visit the police office as one of the final steps to register your fingerprints and get your physical residency card.
Want to start your application NOW? Get in touch with us and start your digital nomad visa application.