Last year, the Spanish government announced a ‘start-ups law’ as part of a package of new measures to attract more investors and workers to Spain – which includes a digital nomad visa.
Spain’s employment visa only applies for jobs based in Spain, and short-stay tourist visas don’t always allow visitors to conduct professional or economic activities. A digital nomad visa would give non-EU nationals the legal right to stay in Spain and work remotely for longer periods of time.
This way, transient workers won’t be competing with local residents for jobs, but they’ll still be contributing to Spain’s economy – while they benefit from everything living in Spain has to offer.
However, digital nomads have been waiting a long time for any word on when this will become an official Spanish law. At a government presentation in late September 2022, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez finally confirmed that the start-ups law will be coming into force ‘very soon’.
In the meantime, here’s what we know so far about the highly anticipated Spanish digital nomad visa, including who will be eligible and which incentives might come with it.
Who can apply for a Spanish digital nomad visa?
As the law is yet to be written and finalised, there are no concrete details yet, but general information about what’s expected from the scheme has been widely discussed over the last year.
It’s believed that the Spanish digital nomad visa will be open to anyone from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). Since EU nationals or Schengen Zone citizens can already stay and work in Spain for up to 6 months without having to officially register as a Spanish resident, it’s unlikely that remote workers from these areas need an alternative visa.
To be considered an eligible remote worker, it’s thought that applicants must either have a contract of employment proving their status or evidence that they have been regularly employed on a freelance basis by a non-Spanish business. It may be possible to earn some income from businesses in Spain, but likely no more than 20%.
The digital nomad visa is expected to be valid for 1 year initially, after which the remote worker can request an extension for 2 years, with the potential to renew twice for a total of 5 years in Spain.
As it is a type of residency permit, it’s probable that Spain’s digital nomad visa will also allow the holder to bring dependant family members with them (e.g. spouse and children) for the duration of their stay in the country.
Most visas of this kind require the holder to be self-sufficient, and also to pass criminal record checks. It’s uncertain at the moment whether applicants will be expected to have certain qualifications relating to their line of work, or how much they must earn to meet minimum income requirements – though rumours suggest it will be at least €2,000 a month.
What are the benefits of working as a digital nomad in Spain?
There are already plenty of reasons for digital nomads to want to spend time in Spain, including:
- Average of 3,000 hours of sunshine a year
- Low cost of living for a prime location
- High quality of life in most areas
- Unique culture with welcoming people
- Access to Schengen Area countries
Additionally, remote work relies on a stable and fast internet connection, and Spain boasts the second-fastest broadband speed in Europe (it may be a little slower than Denmark, but you won’t find warm white beaches there!).
As many people moving to Spain come from Britain, it’s a bonus that Spain’s broadband has an average download speed of 131.55mbps, which is twice as fast as in the UK, with an upload speed of more than five times as fast.
Unfortunately, it’s well-known that Spanish bureaucracy can move incredibly slowly – but that’s where the proposed law comes in, aiming to speed up the process of setting up businesses in Spain or settling temporarily as a remote worker.
As an extra incentive, the Spanish government is likely to offer tax reliefs on the standard 24-25% rates – e.g. reducing Corporation Tax to 15% for start-ups, and applying the same reduction to Income Tax for digital nomads (though only for the first 4 years).
There’s also the fact that if any digital nomads move to Spain temporarily and find that they want to stay in this lovely country for longer, they’ll be able to continue working remotely from Spain for up to 5 years by renewing their visa. They won’t have to separate from their immediate family, either, as the visa will allow them to bring their partner and children along.
Should you work remotely from Spain?
As most workers and businesses discovered during the lockdown periods of the COVID-19 pandemic, many jobs can easily be done remotely. Once employees found out that working from home gave them a better work-life balance, and employers found that this didn’t affect productivity, this triggered an increase in post-pandemic hybrid working.
In the UK, an Office for National Statistics survey found that only 8% of those working from home wanted to return to the workplace full-time in spring 2022, while 48% wanted to work mostly or exclusively from home (with the remainder preferring a hybrid model). An ACAS survey also found that 52% of employers have more staff working exclusively from home than ever.
While the digital nomad movement already existed before COVID-19, the changes in working styles brought about by the global lockdowns led to a surge in interest in this lifestyle. After all, if you can work exclusively from home, then you can work from anywhere – so why not work for your British employer from warm and beautiful Spain?
When can you apply for a Spanish digital nomad visa?
The only thing standing in the way of the dream of working remotely in sunny Spain is that digital nomad visas aren’t legally available yet. As the Spanish Prime Minister recently stated that he was confident the start-up law “will be approved during this period of parliamentary sessions”, we can expect more information very soon.
The current period runs until the end of December 2022, meaning the digital nomad visa scheme could be up and running by the end of this year, or in early 2023 at the latest.
However, this is still several months away. If you’re interested in being able to come and go within Spain as you wish, and work both in Spain and outside the country, there’s a fast-track alternative available – the Spanish Golden Visa.
Anyone with the means to invest several hundred euros in Spain can do so, including starting up a business, and you won’t have to worry about capping your earnings within Spain at 20%.
The best part is, if you meet the criteria, you could get this visa in as little as 1 month – especially if you get professional help with your Spanish Golden Visa application.