Starting a Business in Spain: A Quick Guide


how to set up a company in spain

Thinking of growing your business in Spain, the vibrant and diverse country? Starting a company there might seem tricky, but we’ve got your back. In this guide, we’ll cover all you need to know. From business culture to legalities, visas, and taxes, we’ve got you covered. Ready to dive into the exciting world of Spanish business?

Key Takeaways:

  • Learn the unique business culture of Spain and how it can impact your operations.
  • Find out who can start a business in Spain and the legal requirements for foreign entrepreneurs.
  • Explore the different legal structures available for businesses in Spain and their implications.
  • Discover the step-by-step process of starting a business in Spain as an expat.
  • Understand the requirements and process of obtaining a business visa in Spain.

Business Culture in Spain

When you step into the Spanish business scene, understanding its unique culture is vital. The country’s way of doing business might be different from what you’re used to. However, this new approach carries its own benefits and chances for success.

Spanish business culture stands out for its calm and laid-back attitude. People there cherish building relationships and trust. They often spend time getting to know their business partners on a personal level first. In meetings and talks, the atmosphere is usually less stiff, focusing more on connecting before jumping into business matters.

In Spain, don’t be surprised if you find working times are a bit different, too. Here, people enjoy longer lunch breaks and they love their evening business dinners. Such a flexible timetable means they can mix work with personal life easily. This brings a sense of happiness and contentment to their daily routines.

Yes, you’ll notice these unique aspects when doing business in Spain. Yet, it might be simpler than you think. Spain actually stands 28th in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Survey among 190 countries. This means starting and running a business here is often easier than in many other places.

As you start your business adventure in Spain, remember to respect their way of doing things. Adapting to the Spanish approach can go a long way. It helps you make solid connections, encourage teamwork, and, most importantly, boost your chances of success.

Advantages of Spanish Business Culture Opportunities for Success
Emphasis on building relationships Establishing trust and long-term partnerships
Flexible working hours Improved work-life balance and employee satisfaction
Straightforward business practices Easier establishment and operation of businesses

Who can Start a Business in Spain?

The chance to start a business in Spain is available to all, including those from other countries, provided they are legal residents. For those from the EU, the process is pretty simple. But, non-EU citizens will have to get a work permit first.

They need this permit to come to Spain and set up their business. The details on what’s needed and how to do it could be slightly different for everyone. It depends on where they’re from originally.

Legal Structures for Businesses in Spain

In Spain, businesses have various legal structures to pick from. It’s vital to know your options to choose the right one. Each type comes with unique requirements, tax duties, and impacts on liability.

Sole Traders (Empresas Individuales)

Sole traders, or “empresa individual,” are the most basic business type in Spain. In this setup, you run the business on your own. It’s suitable for small ventures with minimal capital and risks. But, remember, as the sole trader, you bear all debts and responsibilities.

Partnerships (Sociedad Civil)

Partnerships, called “sociedad civil,” involve two or more people or entities working together. They share rights, duties, and how profits are distributed through partnership agreements. Partnerships and their partners are seen as one, making everyone responsible for the business’s debts fully.

Limited Companies (Sociedad Limitada or S.L.)

Limited companies, or “sociedad limitada” (S.L.), provide a shield for their shareholders’ personal assets. Shareholders are only liable for the company’s debts up to their investment. To start, a limited company needs one shareholder and a minimum share capital of €3,000.

Self-employed Workers (Autónomos)

Being an “autónomo” means working solo in Spain. You take full liability for your business actions. It’s not a separate legal entity, meaning you are your business. But, it offers freedoms and tax benefits to those who are self-employed.

Legal Structure Requirements Tax Obligations Liability
Sole Traders Low capital requirements, no legal documents needed Personal income tax Unlimited personal liability
Partnerships Partnership agreement, no minimum capital requirement Personal income tax Unlimited personal liability
Limited Companies Minimum €3,000 share capital, articles of association Corporate tax, VAT Shareholders’ liability limited to capital contribution
Self-employed Workers Registration with social security, no minimum capital requirement Personal income tax, social security contributions Unlimited personal liability

How to Start a Business in Spain as an Expat

If you’re from outside the EU and want to start a business in Spain, you should follow a few steps. First, you need to get a work permit. This will let you move to Spain and start your company. You must also show you have enough money and submit a detailed business plan. This plan should show how your company will help create jobs for people in Spain.

You’ll also need to get a NIE, a special tax number for foreigners. This number is key for naming your business and opening a business account. Make sure to do your research. Knowing all the documents you need and the steps to take will make your startup in Spain go smoothly.

How to Obtain a Business Visa in Spain

Non-EU citizens wanting to start a business in Spain need a work permit. They can choose between the entrepreneur visa and the self-employed worker visa.

Entrepreneur Visa

The entrepreneur visa welcomes those with innovative business ideas for Spain. To qualify, applicants should show how their idea will create jobs and grow the economy.

The requirements vary based on the business idea but usually include:

  • A detailed business plan
  • Enough funds for the venture
  • Plans for job creation and local business collaboration

When this visa is granted, entrepreneurs can legally do business in Spain.

Self-Employed Worker Visa

The self-employed worker visa is for those starting their business in Spain. Applicants should meet several requirements:

  • Prove their professional qualifications or experience
  • Show they have enough money for their business and living costs
  • Register with the Spanish Social Security System

Once granted, they are free to do business in Spain.

Application Process

The process to get a business visa in Spain is straightforward but rigorous:

  1. Collect all the needed documents, including business plans and proofs of financials.
  2. Submit these to the Spanish embassy or consulate in your home country.
  3. Pay the fees and provide any requested extra information.
  4. If needed, attend a face-to-face interview.
  5. Then, wait for a decision.

Application steps and requirements can vary. Getting professional help can smoothen this process and improve your chances of approval.

Type of Visa Requirements
Entrepreneur Visa Comprehensive business plan, proof of funds, job creation plans
Self-Employed Worker Visa Professional qualifications or experience, proof of funds, social security registration

Licenses and Permits

Starting a business in Spain means you must know about licenses and permits. The rules change based on what your business does and where it’s based. These laws are there to keep your business safe and legal.

Here are some licenses and permits you might need:

1. Health and Safety Permits

Some businesses, like food places or construction sites, need special health and safety permits. These permits mean your business gets checked to make sure it’s safe. They help you keep up with important health and safety rules.

2. Environmental Permits

Businesses that affect the environment, like those that make things or handle waste, must have environmental permits. These permits help control and lessen the harm your business might do to nature. Following these green rules is key for the planet and your company’s future.

3. Professional Licenses

In Spain, jobs like being a doctor, lawyer, architect, or real estate agent need special licenses. These licenses show you have the right skills and knowledge for your job. It’s very important to have these if you work in these fields.

4. Trade Licenses

Some businesses need specific trade licenses to run. These are given out by local authorities and depend on your business type. For instance, if you sell alcohol or tobacco, you’ll need a special license to follow the specific rules for these products.

5. Building Permits

If your business involves building or changing a property, you’ll need building permits. These make sure your building work is safe and meets local rules. Always get the right permits to build or change a place without problems later.

Before you open a business in Spain, learn about the licenses and permits you need. Talk to local experts or lawyers. Not having the right paperwork can lead to fines, your business closing, or other serious issues.

Registering Your Business in Spain

Getting your business registered is a key step when starting in Spain. You need to do this to make sure your business is legal and follows local rules.

Let’s look at the main steps to register your business in Spain:

  1. Obtain a Tax Identification Number (CIF): Your Tax Identification Number (CIF) is important for taxes and legal matters. You get this unique number from the Spanish Tax Agency (Agencia Tributaria).
  2. Sign the Deed of Incorporation: This step involves preparing and signing the deed of incorporation. It includes key details about ownership, shares, and who manages the company.
  3. Register the Company with the Mercantile Registry: The Mercantile Registry (Registro Mercantil) keeps a record of companies in Spain. You need to submit documents, like your deed of incorporation, to this office in your province.
  4. Open a Business Bank Account: It’s wise to have a bank account just for your business. Shop around different banks to find the best deal for you.

How you register depends on the business type, like a sole trader, partnership, or limited company. Talking to a business lawyer who knows Spanish law can make the process easier.

Setting up a Business Bank Account in Spain

Opening a business bank account in Spain is key for managing your money well. It lets you keep personal and business cash separate. You can keep an eye on your spending and handle your money better. Here’s how to get a business account in Spain:

1. Research Different Banks

First, look into various banks to find the best one for your business. Check what fees they charge, their account features, if they have good internet banking, and how good their customer service is. Pick a bank that focuses on serving businesses like yours.

2. Gather the Required Documentation

To open a business account, you’ll need some documents. These usually are:

  • A copy of your company’s setup paperwork
  • Your company’s tax numbers (like the CIF in Spain)
  • Identification and address proof for anyone who will sign on the account or be a director
  • A document showing where your business is located

Make sure you have all the right papers with you before you go to the bank. This helps things move faster and avoids problems.

3. Schedule an Appointment

Most times, you must meet with the bank in person to open an account. Get in touch with your chosen bank to set up a time to meet. At the bank, they’ll help you get everything set up and will answer your questions.

4. Provide Additional Information

The bank might also ask for more details about your business. This could be your business plan, your financial guesses, or info about what you do. Have this information ready to show that your business is real and strong.

5. Consider Additional Services

After opening your account, think about what other services the bank offers. You might need services for taking payments, loans, insurance, and more. Look at what your business requires and talk with the bank. They can help you figure out what will be useful for your business.

6. Maintain a Positive Relationship with Your Bank

Keeping a good connection with your bank after you open your account is crucial. Check your accounts often, deal with any problems right away, and stay in contact with your account manager. A good relationship with your bank can bring important advice, specific banking help, and chances for your business to grow.

Getting a business bank account in Spain sets a strong base for your company’s finances. If you follow these steps and pick the right bank, you’ll find it easier to manage your money. Then, you can focus on making your business grow in Spain.

Tax and Social Security Considerations

Starting a business in Spain means you must know about its taxes and social security. There are key taxes, like corporate tax (impuesto de sociedades) and value-added tax (IVA). These taxes help pay for public projects and services.

If you’re self-employed, you’ll pay income tax (IRPF) and social security contributions. These help provide healthcare, retirement, and other social benefits.

It’s vital to meet these tax and social requirements to avoid penalties. Getting advice from a Spanish tax expert or accountant is a smart move.

Tax Obligations for Businesses in Spain

What businesses pay in Spain depends on their structure and activities. Key taxes include corporate tax, with a 25% rate on profits. There’s also a 21% VAT on goods and services, but certain items have lower rates.

Local, property, and environmental taxes may also apply, depending on your business. Consider these too.

Social Security Obligations for Businesses in Spain

Employers in Spain must fund their employees’ social security. This includes healthcare, leave, and retirement funds. They must keep accurate records for these contributions.

If you’re self-employed in Spain, you must pay your own social security. This helps ensure you’re covered for benefits as well.

Foreign Companies Opening up a Branch or Subsidiary in Spain

Companies from abroad can grow in Spain by setting up a local office or starting a subsidiary. This choice depends on legal and tax factors, tailored to meet their goals and strategies.

Opening a branch office means the company can work in Spain without becoming a separate entity. It’s a direct way to expand, with the parent company keeping full watch. Even so, the parent company is legally responsible for the branch’s actions and debts.

Starting a subsidiary sets up a brand-new legal entity. It allows more freedom in Spain’s market because the subsidiary stands on its own. The parent company is usually not liable for the subsidiary’s legal or financial duties.

When picking, companies should think about their future aims, risk mindset, and how much control they want. Seeking advice from legal and tax experts who know about international business can help make the smartest decision for Spain.

Branch Office Subsidiary
Operates under the legal umbrella of the parent company Creates a separate legal entity
No separate legal registration required Requires registration as a separate company
Parent company holds liability for branch obligations Subsidiary has limited liability
Parent company retains control and oversight Subsidiary has more independence in decision-making

Starting up a Non-Profit Company in Spain

In Spain, you can set up non-profit organisations, like charities or NGOs. The process includes meeting specific rules and gaining legal status as a non-profit. This lets the organisation avoid some taxes and stick to Spanish laws.

Requirements for Non-Profit Organizations in Spain

  • Legal Form: Non-profits in Spain can be associations (asociaciones) or foundations (fundaciones). Associations involve members while foundations rely on a starting fund.
  • Statutes: These organisations have to create and record their statutes. These documents cover their goals, how they work, and their management.
  • Board of Directors: They must have a board of directors to make big decisions and run the organisation.
  • Financial Accountability: Keeping good financial records and sending yearly statements are a must.
  • Registration: Groups need to sign up with their local government or the National Registry of Associations to be official.

Benefits of Non-Profit Status in Spain

Getting non-profit status in Spain comes with perks:

  • Tax Exemptions: Owing no corporate or value-added tax (VAT) is part of it.
  • Funding Opportunities: It opens the door to grants and other financial help from the government and foundations.
  • Donations and Deductions: Donors get tax breaks for giving to these non-profits.
  • Legitimacy and Transparency: Being recognised legally boosts trust and shows the organisation follows the rules.
Important Considerations for Starting a Non-Profit Company in Spain
Legal Expertise Getting legal advice is vital to understand Spain’s laws and ensure the organisation follows them.
Funding and Sustainability It’s key to have a strong plan for funding to keep the organisation running and meet its goals.
Strategic Partnerships Working with other non-profits, the government, and companies can boost the organisation’s effect.
Impact Measurement Setting up ways to track and show the organisation’s social good is important.

Setting up an Offshore Company in Spain

Creating an offshore company in Spain brings big tax benefits and shields your assets. But, be careful and follow global rules. It’s smart to work with experts in setting up offshore companies.

Doing this in Spain means you can pay less tax and protect your money in very good ways.

  1. Tax Advantages: Offshore companies enjoy better tax schemes. This lets businesses lower their taxes legally and manage their money better.
  2. Asset Protection: Setting up offshore keeps personal and company assets separate. It can limit risks like being sued and keeps your money safe.

To set up right, follow strict international laws. This prevents crimes like money laundering and tax fraud. So, make sure your setup is clear and right by the law.

Creating an offshore company in Spain means going through a few steps:

  1. Choosing the Jurisdiction: Look for a good offshore place, considering tax rules and privacy needs.
  2. Getting Expert Advice: Use the help of pros. They know how to set up offshore companies correctly.
  3. Registering the Company: Do the legal steps to make the company official. This includes picking directors and filling out forms.
  4. Opening Bank Accounts: Start offshore bank accounts for business money. This keeps financial matters organised.
  5. Tax Planning: Make a detailed tax plan. This includes using tax benefits and following local and global tax laws.

Starting an offshore company in Spain can boost your business financially and protect your assets. But, it’s very important to do this carefully and with expert advice. This way, you get all the benefits while staying compliant.

Benefits of Setting up an Offshore Company in Spain
Tax advantages
Asset protection

Administrating Your Business in Spain

Once your business is all set up, running it smoothly is key to lasting success. There are many tasks and duties to handle, such as:

  • Keeping accurate accounting records for correct financial reports and tax alignment.
  • Meeting tax duties like filing tax returns and paying taxes based on your business type.
  • Handling your team, including their payroll, contracts, and social security.
  • Watching out for new laws that might affect your business.

Managing your business well is essential for growth and staying legal and sound financially. It lets you simplify your work, lower risks, and use your resources wisely. With careful management, you can put more focus on growing your business and making important choices.

Importance of Proper Accounting Records

Keeping detailed and accurate accounts is vital for your business’s financial well-being and to follow the law. Good accounts help you understand how well your business is doing. This knowledge is key for smart decision-making and meeting your reporting duties.

To keep good accounts, you should:

  • Record every money move your business makes, like sales or buying stuff.
  • Keep your financial reports, like your balance sheet, up to date.
  • Know what your business owns, owes, and what it’s worth.
  • Follow the right accounting rules and practices.
  • Check your bank records often to spot any mistakes.

Using the right accounting tools or hiring an expert can make this job a lot easier and more accurate.

Complying with Tax Obligations

In Spain, businesses have to pay taxes like corporate tax and VAT. Freelancers need to pay income tax and help with social security too.

To meet your tax duties, you should:

  • Know the tax rules that apply to your business.
  • File your tax returns correctly and on time.
  • Keep a good tax record to backup your tax claims.
  • Have a tax professional check your taxes.

It’s important to keep up with tax rule changes. Not following tax laws can bring fines and other problems.

Aspect Responsibility
Accounting Maintaining proper accounting records
Tax Compliance Submitting accurate tax returns and paying corporate tax, VAT, and income tax
Employee Management Overseeing payroll, contracts, and social security contributions for employees
Regulatory Updates Staying updated with changes in regulations

Business Banking in Spain

Choosing the right business bank account is key when setting up in Spain. It helps you manage your company’s money, pay bills, and use special financial services.

Finding the perfect bank means looking at what they charge, if they have good online banking, and how they help their customers. You need a bank that fits your business well.

In Spain, many banks have special services just for businesses. They offer accounts just for your company, ways to take payments, and loans to help your business grow.

Benefits of Business Banking

  • Having a separate business bank account helps you keep your business and personal money apart. This makes it easier to see what you spent and control your cash flow.
  • It makes your business look more professional. A business bank account shows clients and partners you take your business seriously.
  • Business bank accounts make it easier for you to get paid. They have services that help you take payments, like online ways to pay, card machines, and setting up regular payments.
  • Business banks offer tools that help you manage your money better. This includes things like ways to move money, pay your staff, and credit cards just for businesses.

When ready to open an account, make sure you have all the documents you need. This might include your business’s legal papers, tax IDs, and personal ID. Different banks might ask for different things, depending on your business type.

The right bank account lays the groundwork for good financial management. It keeps your business running smoothly in Spain.


Starting a business in Spain is both thrilling and tough. To succeed, it’s key to know the business culture, laws, and steps needed. Whether from the EU or an expat, solid planning and expert advice make things easier.

To build strong ties with partners, customers, and staff, learn about Spanish business methods. Also, follow the laws closely and get all needed permissions to lay a solid business base.

Starting a company in Spain is a winding road that needs guts and flexibility. Getting help from professionals and skilled allies can smooth the way. With the right prep and support, you can start your new business journey with confidence. You’ll discover the exciting chances Spain holds for you.


Q: How can I start a business in Spain?

A: To start a business in Spain, understand the important regulations. Learn about the business culture and legal structures. Planning well and getting professional advice can make things easier. It also boosts your chance of success.

Q: What is the business culture like in Spain?

A: Spanish business culture is known for being laid-back. People work flexible hours. To succeed, it’s key to adapt to these local ways. Spain makes business easier than some countries, ranking 28th globally.

Q: Who can start a business in Spain?

A: Anyone, including foreigners, can start a business in Spain. EU citizens face fewer hurdles. Non-EU citizens require a work permit. The application process varies by the person’s origin.

Q: What are the legal structures available for businesses in Spain?

A: In Spain, you can choose from several business structures. These include self-employed workers or autónomos and partnerships. Each type has different legal and tax rules.

Q: How can expats start a business in Spain?

A: Expats outside the EU need a work permit to start a business in Spain. They must show they have enough money and submit a business plan. The company needs to show it can create jobs for locals.

Q: What are the requirements for obtaining a business visa in Spain?

A: For starting a business in Spain, non-EU citizens need a work permit. They can apply for entrepreneur or self-employed visas. The type of visa depends on the business idea and its innovation.

Q: What licenses and permits do I need to operate a business in Spain?

A: Depending on your business, you might need special licenses. For example, food businesses need health and safety permits. It’s crucial to check what permits your business needs in Spain.

Q: How do I register my business in Spain?

A: Registering your business is a big first step. It involves getting a tax ID and signing up with the Mercantile Registry. The steps depend on the business structure you choose.

Q: How can I open a business bank account in Spain?

A: To open a business bank account in Spain, you need the right documents. Different banks might ask for different things. Be sure to research banks and their requirements before choosing one.

Q: What are the tax and social security considerations for businesses in Spain?

A: Businesses in Spain must pay certain taxes. These include corporate tax and value-added tax. It’s also important for self-employed people to pay income tax and contribute to social security.

Q: How can foreign companies expand their operations in Spain?

A: Foreign companies can expand in Spain through branch offices or subsidiaries. A branch office doesn’t create a new company. A subsidiary is a new business with its own liability protection.

Q: Can non-profit organizations be established in Spain?

A: Non-profits, like charities and NGOs, can start in Spain. They must meet specific rules to get non-profit status. Having this status means the organisation gets tax benefits.

Q: How can I set up an offshore company in Spain?

A: Setting up an offshore company in Spain can cut down on taxes and protect your assets. But it’s complex and must follow many rules. Getting advice from professionals is wise.

Q: What is involved in administering a business in Spain?

A: Running a business in Spain well involves many tasks. You need to keep good accounting records and follow tax laws. If you have staff, you also need to manage them.

Q: What should I consider when choosing a business bank account in Spain?

A: Choosing the best business bank account is important for your company. It lets you manage money and access services easily. Compare banks on things like fees and support.

Q: What are the key points to know about starting a business in Spain?

A: Starting a business in Spain is both challenging and rewarding. Knowing the culture, legal steps, and how to run a business is essential. For both EU citizens and expats, planning and advice are crucial.

Source Links

Leave a comment