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What You Need to Know About the Digital Nomad Visa in Spain

July 21, 2023

Good news for remote workers who love tapas, year-round sunshine, and pan con tomate: Spain has joined the growing number of countries offering a digital nomad visa, which allows people to live and work remotely while maintaining their employment or self-employment status in another country. 

In November 2022, the Spanish government started deliberating on the digital nomad visa, and approved it in December 2022. In January 2023, Google searches from Americans for “Spain digital nomad visa” jumped a whopping 66%.

Which is not surprising, given that, until now, digital nomads had to apply for other kinds of residence permits to live and work in Spain, including a non-lucrative visa.

Whether you’re looking to hire talent in Spain or hope to move there yourself, this article is for you. In it, we’ll highlight the most important elements of Spain’s digital nomad visa and run through the requirements and process to obtain it. Finally, we’ll hear from two digital nomads about their experiences living in Spain.

Spain’s Digital Nomad Visa — What is it and Who’s it For?

Spain’s Startup Act enshrines the digital nomad visa in law and aims to help the country attract startups, investors, and global talent through measures such as a new tax regime and simplifying the process of setting up a company in Spain.

The new digital nomad visa is for employees and entrepreneurs from non-EU countries who want to live in Spain while working remotely for a foreign company or with clients outside the country. It offers non-EU citizens a residence permit that can be extended for up to five years, and these years count toward Spanish nationality and permanent residence for those who aspire to a lifelong diet of paella and jamón.

The initial remote work visa lasts for three years, with the possibility to extend for a further two. There are two ways to obtain it:

  • You can enter Spain on a tourist visa and apply for your three-year permit from there.
  • You can obtain a one-year permit from a Spanish embassy or consulate in your country of residence and extend it to three years once you arrive in Spain.

The Spanish digital nomad visa also allows you to bring family members, which is great news for parents dreaming of bringing up bilingual babies. 

And, perhaps best of all, the visa gives you the right to travel throughout the Schengen Area — the 27 European countries that have abolished border control at their mutual borders. Put simply — it puts Europe at your fingertips. 

By the way, European citizens can live and work for up to six months in Spain visa-free. After that, they’ll need to obtain a NIE (national identity number) to continue. 

Digital Nomad Visa in Spain — How It Works

Spain’s Startup Law sets out the visa requirements and digital nomad visa application process. This section will walk you through the eligibility criteria, required documents, and step-by-step application process. 

Who Can Apply for Spain’s Digital Nomad Visa?

The digital nomad visa is available to all non-EU citizens who meet the following requirements:

  • Employment status: You must either be employed by a non-Spanish company or work with clients outside of Spain if you’re a freelancer. If you work with Spanish companies, you must be able to prove that they represent no more than 20% of your total income.
  • Employment duration: You must be able to show that you’ve worked for your company for at least three months and have a contract for at least one year. Freelancers must demonstrate they’ve worked with clients for at least three months before submitting the application.
  • Work experience and education: You must have three years of relevant work experience and a graduate or postgraduate university degree from a reputable school.
  • Clean criminal record: You must be able to prove you have a clean criminal record and have not been prohibited from entering Spain.
  • Visa application fee: The application fee is around €80, and you’ll also need to factor in the costs of translating documents and obtaining the apostille and criminal record certificate.
  • Financial security: The main applicant should be able to prove they have at least €25,000 (200% of the Spanish minimum wage) in a bank account, plus €9,441 for each additional family member. 

Required Documents and Supporting Evidence

  • Valid passport: Ensure your passport has a sufficient validity period beyond your intended stay in Spain.
  • Proof of remote work or self-employment: Provide evidence of your employment or self-employment status, such as employment contracts, client contracts, or business registration documents. These documents must show that you work with or for non-Spanish companies.
  • Proof of income: Demonstrate your financial stability by submitting bank statements, tax returns, or proof of regular income.
  • Health insurance: You may want to obtain comprehensive private health insurance coverage for the duration of your stay.
  • Proof of accommodation: Present documentation showing your accommodation arrangements in Spain, such as a rental agreement or hotel reservation.

Steps to Apply for a Spanish Digital Nomad Visa

  • Research: Gather information about the application requirements and process for Spain’s digital nomad visa.
  • Documentation: Prepare the necessary documents, such as a valid passport, proof of remote work or self-employment, and financial records or proof of income.
  • Application submission: Submit your visa application form and supporting documents through the designated online portal or at the Spanish consulate/embassy in your home country.
  • Biometrics and interview: Some applicants may be required to provide biometric data and attend an interview as part of the application process.
  • Wait for a decision: People who apply for a residency card under the digital nomad visa program will need to wait between 15 and 45 days for approval.

What’s Life Like for Digital Nomads in Spain?

Spain’s cost of living is one of the lowest in the European Union, and is estimated to be 33.3% lower than the US, while the average rent is 56% lower. While this isn’t such great news for Spanish people, as it reflects the country’s slow economic recovery from the 2008 crash and subsequent effects on inflation and wages, it makes it an attractive option for digital nomads.

Additionally, Spain has one of the best public health systems in the world, ranking at number eight, so affordable healthcare is a big benefit to those who live there. For instance, Barcelona boasts not one but two of the best 100 hospitals in the world — Hospital Clínic at number 62 and Vall d’Hebron at 83. 

Of course, WiFi and other digital nomad amenities — like coworking spaces and decent coffee — are important considerations. Fortunately, Spain ranks 13th in the world for internet speed and has over 1,500 coworking spaces. While coffee rankings are a little more subjective, coffee lovers will feel right at home in one of the country’s many trendy sidewalk cafés.

We spoke to two digital nomads in Spain to find out what they love about calling it “mi casa”. 

Cey Flores, Multimedia Designer & Remote Worker

Cey, who’s originally from the Philippines, has been living in Barcelona since early 2023, having fallen in love with the city during a pre-pandemic trip with her family. She loves the city’s vibrant art scene and modernist architecture, which provide inspiration for her own designs. 

“Barcelona is a very walkable city. There’s so much design everywhere: I enjoy looking at every type of media around the city. It helps me with my process a lot of times,” she says.

For Cey, one of the best things about Barcelona is its excellent transport system that gives her easy access to nearby cities and neighboring countries. “It’s a great way to disconnect after work,” she adds. Cey recommends that under 30s get a T-Jove card and a free RENFE rail pass to explore the city and surrounding areas while saving money. 

Although Barcelona is a very affordable city, Cey says she’s noticed it’s gradually becoming more expensive. She’s also found administrative processes can be slow, so she recommends that digital nomads “prepare all the paperwork and schedule ahead of time to get your resident cards because it can take a while sometimes!”

Finally, she advises aspiring Barcelonians to do their research into the different neighborhoods when looking for an apartment and allow plenty of time to find a place to stay.

Victoria Peel-Yates, Content Writer & Remote Worker

Victoria is from the UK, has lived in Barcelona since 2013, and was hired by her current employer through Remofirst in 2023. Although she originally planned to stay “for six months,” she fell in love with the city’s vibrant culture, comfortable climate, beach lifestyle…and one of its residents. 

One of the things she loves most about living in Spain is the way people approach the work-life balance. “People take their time off seriously,” she says. “In the UK, people laugh at the idea of siestas and wear burnout like a badge of honor. But we’re the ones who have got it wrong.”

Like Cey, Victoria has found that administrative processes can be slow and frustrating, “but you get used to it,” she says. “Plus, the quality of life makes it worth it.”

Hire Global Talent in Europe and Beyond

Spain is likely to see an influx of global talent as a result of the digital nomad visa program and it's great employment benefits. If you’re an employer looking to hire team members in Spain or anywhere else in the world, you’ll need to stay up-to-date with local labor laws to ensure compliance. 

To learn more about hiring in Spain, check out Remofirst’s Spain country guide.