Many foreigners from all around the world choose Spain as their new base of operations from where they will grow their new project or startup. And, in fact, there is enough reason for that. The main cities of the country have become some of the most important European hubs for entrepreneurs. In that sense, one of the main requirements to follow this journey is getting a valid residence permit. And that is what we will tackle in this article: the step by step process you should follow in order to set up your company and get the residency in Spain. In order words, we will talk about documents, requirements and application process of the entrepreneur visa


What is the entrepreneur visa in Spain?


The entrepreneur visa is a residence permit that allows you to live in Spain during a three-year period provided that you start a project in the country that goes in line with the general interest of the Spanish economy


In that sense, we are talking about a residence permit created for those non-EU citizens who want to open their startup in the Spanish territory. Under certain requirements, the Spanish immigration law will grant you residency thanks to your business idea. 

So, as we have just mentioned, this path will allow you to get your visa as long as you open an innovative project that has to be aligned with the interests of Spain. What do we mean by general interest?

Starting any type of business idea won’t work. In order to be accepted, your project must fulfill the following conditions: 

  • It has to create employment for the country, at least in the long run. This means that your project must create new job positions and be a positive stimulus for the general Spanish economy. 
  • It must create good investment opportunities.
  • Its operating process must involve a high level of technology (for example, the use of algorithms or machine learning) and enhance the socio-economic development of Spain.
  • Finally, having patents, recommendation letters or some clients will increase your chances of getting your application accepted

But how can you make sure that your project meets this requirement? How to demonstrate it is innovative enough? Throughout your business plan. We will analyze that part in greater detail in the upcoming sections. 

Related legislation: the 14/2013 Entrepreneur’s Law


The entrepreneur law was born and published on the 27th of September 2013. Its main purpose was to assist entrepreneurs in their process of creating a new venture and with their internationalization.

Even though the most direct association we can make is with the entrepreneur visa (the permit we are talking about in this article), it also regulates other permits. Visas like the investor residence permit or the highly qualified visa are some of them. 

One of the main advantages of any visa under this law is that it can be obtained while in Spain. Besides, and unlike the rest of the residence permits that fall under the general immigration law, it grants the possibility to live in Spain for 3 years plus renewals (not just 1). 

Furthermore, a fast resolution speed is another great advantage of this law.


Open a business and get residency in Spain easily: Main Benefits of this visa


One of the main promises of this permit, after its creation in 2013, was to clear the path for entrepreneurs wishing to move to Spain.

Unlike in many countries, there is no upfront investment needed. And this is just an example that demonstrates how good of an opportunity to get a startup visa in Spain is.

Just to give you some extra details, let’s review the main benefits of obtaining a residence permit for entrepreneurs:

  • You will be getting a work permit without the need to go over the complex requirements a regular work visa demands
  • Unlike many other European countries, there is no upfront investment or capital amount needed beforehand.
  • Even though it is highly valued that your project creates employment in the country, it is not a strict requirement. This means that the Commercial Office won’t deny your application if you start on your own (with no other employee). That is also the case for renewals: you can renew even if you have not hired anyone else for the first years. 
  • With the entrepreneur visa, you will have free movement inside the countries that form the Schengen area
  • No need to come to Spain for the application. You can simply define a representative to apply for you, avoiding the need to travel to the country in order to get your business permit. 
  • Joint application. You can apply for your Spanish residence permit as long as the one for your family with just one member of the family starting a project. This makes the startup visa a good ticket for those families who want to move together to Spain. In that sense, you can bring both your parents, spouse, and children under 18 years old.


Do you have any doubts so far? Then ask anything to our immigration lawyers here and get an instant answer:


    How to get the Startup Visa Step by Step


    In order to give you a step-by-step process to apply for the entrepreneur residence permit in Spain, we need to first make a distinction. The process will differ depending on whether you are abroad or legally in Spain.


    1. Being outside Spain


    Let’s say that you have never lived in Spain, and you are currently located in your home country.

    In this case, you will need to apply for a Spanish entrepreneur visa. It consists of a three-year residency permit.

    The documentation you will need to send in in order to apply for this permit also changes. In this case, you can find the application form to be filled out and submitted here.

    And where should you submit that file? To the Economic & Commercial Office of the Spanish Embassy in your current country. After 10 days, you will receive a confirmation or denial of your business plan. 

    So, in that case, you need to request a visa to travel to Spain, where you would finally get your residency card.

    2. Already legally in Spain with a tourist visa or residency card


    On the other hand, we find the case in which you are already living legally in the Spanish territory. The main difference here is that you avoid the need to apply for a visa first: you directly jump to residency authorization.

    The most important thing is that you can’t be in an irregular situation in the country. Otherwise, your application will get rejected. 

    In this case, the required documentation must be sent to the Large Business and Strategic Sector Units. You will need to wait 20 days to get a decision regarding the validity of your business plan

    If you don’t get any response after 20 days, the application will be considered as accepted.

    3. You do not qualify


    Finally, let’s suppose that you have submitted your residency application, and you get a negative response. Maybe the Spanish Immigration Office considers that your project does not go in hand with the socio-economic interest of the country, so you don’t get your entrepreneur visa. Maybe you directly do not quality under those requirements. 

    What should you do?

    In that case, you should apply for a temporary residence permit; and start working as a self-employed worker. For that, you will just need your NIE number. It is a similar permit, as it allows you to set up your own company also, but in this latter case, there is no need for the business to be innovative.

    Another feasible option would be to invest in real estate in order to get your residency, under the Golden Visa scheme.




    Requirements for the Startup Visa in Spain


    Basically, there are three main requirements you must meet in order to get your application accepted, and then the usual general ones that also exist with any type of visa. 


    Your profile as a professional


    The first thing the corresponding authority will check is your professional profile. 

    Because the business idea is as important as your ability to execute and implement it in the real world. That is why you want to demonstrate, basically trough your CV, who you are, where have you studied, which is your profession, and how your experience not only is related to your project, but how it can help to implement it successfully.

    The more experience, knowledge, and skills you can demonstrate you possess, the higher the likelihood of getting your approval. So having a degree or a master’s related to the core activities that will help your startup grow is crucial.


    Entrepreneur visa business plan


    This may be the most important document when it comes to your startup visa application.

    The business plan is the document you will need to send to the Commercial Office. And that is what they will use to evaluate and finally decide if you deserve the residency or not, based on how well you state the innovative component of your business idea.


    What should you include in your business plan?


    As a whole, your business plan must include a market, product/service, and financial analysis. 

    That is to say, trough it, you need to demonstrate that a real market opportunity exists for your project to succeed, that the product or service you plan to sell can be valuable enough for your target customers, and that you have found specific financing sources. 

    This last point is crucial. You must include a financial projection including the specific sources of financing you will receive to have your business operating effectively.


    Maximize your chances of success: Rely on specialists to craft your business plan


    What do we recommend here? Relying on our specialized business lawyers to analyze and adapt it. At Balcells Group we make sure that your entrepreneur visa gets accepted by working hand in hand with you with the business plan.

    We have dealt with thousands of clients so we know what to include and whatnot, and how to exactly present your project in order to increase your chances of success. 

    So if you need help here, do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected].


    The projects added value to the Spanish economy


    Finally, and even though we are repeating ourselves, we need to stress this point again, as it is of great importance. 

    The company you set up to get the residency can’t be a restaurant or language school. It has to be something new, something that does not already exist in the country, and that it could certainly benefit Spain once created. 

    You need to demonstrate that your startup creates value for the Spanish economy, it will be a great opportunity for both national and foreign investment, and is highly innovative.


    Rest of the general requirements


    In order to successfully obtain an entrepreneur visa in Spain, focusing on the project is not enough. You will also need to meet the following general requirements: 

    • You must be from a non-European Union country
    • The entrepreneur must be over 18 years old (legal age in Spain)
    • Clear criminal records background. That must hold both for Spain and for any other country during the 5 years prior to the application
    • At the moment of the application, you can’t be in an irregular situation in Spain
    • You must have health insurance (public or private) with full coverage on the Spanish territory
    • You must have sufficient economic means, which would be €30,240 in your bank account 

    Documents you need to submit to get your residency as an entrepreneur


    If you are in a position in which all the prior conditions are met, you can start your application. Which are the specific documents you will need to submit?

    • Application form. The specific document that states that you want to apply for an entrepreneur visa or for a residency authorization. As we have seen before, the form differs depending on which of the two paths you follow. You will find those documents attached in their specific sections in this article. 
    • Complete passport.
    • Proof of the payment of the corresponding fee
    • Proof that you meet all the necessary requirements: that you have sufficient economic means, social security, etc. 
    • Business plan. You will need to submit your business plan, in which you carefully detail your activity and how it is going to benefit the Spanish economy. As we have already mentioned, emphasis on the creation of employment, innovation, and positive impact on the socio-economic growth of the country must be placed in this document.  It must be sent to the Commercial Office
    • Favorable report. If the business plan gets approved by the Commercial Office, your project will be considered of economical interest to Spain. Then you will have green light to send that approval document to the corresponding Immigration Office in order to get your entrepreneur visa. 


    How to choose the right company


    As we have mentioned above, your project must be innovative and include a technological component. Nevertheless, maybe you have no idea where to start and you would like to get some guidance regarding which company to start. 

    What is the Spanish market demanding? Which investment opportunities are worth it and which won’t succeed?

    Just to help you out with that, we have created a list with some suggestions. We gathered here the 25 best business ideas and companies to start in Spain. Low capital investment and a market with latent demand are what characterize all of them. Take a look!

    How to renew your entrepreneur visa


    In order to renew your company set up visa, you will basically need to still meet all the requirements you met for the initial application. Basically, it means that your project still enhances the Spanish economy and promotes the creation of new employment. If your business has a good projection, your entrepreneur visa will be easily renewed. 

    This renewal will enable you to stay legally in the country for two additional years

    If you need help with the general application for the entrepreneur visa, renewal, or even with the creation of your business plan (so that it matches the interest of the Commercial Office), do not hesitate to ask our lawyers for help. We will be glad to answer any questions!

    Setting up a company and living in Spain must be easy. And that is what we want you to feel. 




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