In this era of interconnectivity, self-employment is getting more and more popular. Even before the internet was as big as it is now, the idea of being your own boss, determining your hours and your targets has been appealing for some people.

Being self-employed in your own country of citizenship already has its own set of challenges: getting enough work, taking care of your finances as well as administration yourself can be quite a hassle. Moving abroad and working as a freelancer is another level entirely: governments usually do not want foreigners entering their country without a safety net, and business as a freelancer can have drastic ups and downs. Therefore, the bureaucracy can be a hassle.

Don’t be discouraged, though. Spain, for example, is open to foreign freelancers looking to work there and has a clear pathway for self-employed workers to set up shop in the country. Curious how? Read on!

Who needs a visa, are you eligible?

Technically, Spain is open to all self-employed workers, given that they follow the law. However, said law, or specifically, the immigration requirements depend on your citizenship. If you hail from a European Union (EU) or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member country, you are free to move in and around Spain for work without a visa.

If you’re from a non-EU or non-EFTA country, there are a set of bureaucratic challenges you will have to go through. You will need to not only get a visa to enter Spain, but also a residence permit, and a self-employed work permit.

Don’t get discouraged, though, we’re here to arm you with some knowledge and tips to apply successfully!

Visa requirements

Before we get to the application documentation, it is worth understanding the legal requirements you will need to fulfill before applying for a visa. Applicants must be over the age of 18, not have irregular Spanish immigration status, have no criminal records (and certification to prove it), have the professional qualification for the work you will be doing, and have sufficient financial resources for your business.

Now, the documentation:

  • Copy of your valid passport or travel document
  • Form EX-07 completed and signed, including a photo that fits the application requirements
  • Proof of qualifications to conduct business: this can be academic and professional
  • Initial investment and proof of its income
  • Medical proof that you have no medical issue that is a threat to the public (has to be fresh: no older than three months)

Proof of medical insurance valid in Spain

A clear business plan, pre-approved by appropriate Spanish organizations

Keep in mind, all documents you submit to apply must be in Spanish. So, if any of your documents are in another language, you should take care to have them translated by a sworn translator and apostilled by the necessary agencies before you submit them.

With all the documents gathered and in the correct formats, contact your local Spanish embassy or consulate to apply. The embassy or consulate reserves the authority to evaluate and demand more documents for the application. Also, keep in mind that submission does not equal successful visa issuance.

After arrival in Spain

With the visa all sorted out, you’re ready to enter Spain! There are still quite a few things you need to take care of before truly settling in and you should get to know all of them before entry to be prepared and ensure all these processes run smoothly.

The self-employment visa will only be valid for 90 days. Don’t panic, this doesn’t mean that the Spanish government will kick you out after three months! This is normal, during the first month of your stay in Spain you will need to go to your local police station and receive your full visa.

You will also have to present some original documents certified by the embassy or consulate. They will then issue you a residence card, or Tarjeta de Identificación de Extranjero.

Settling in a new country can be a turbulent time, so we recommend you prepare well in advance and use professional help where possible to prepare for a successful TIE application. The photo you need for TIE, for example, can be an unexpected stumbling block, as it has non-regular requirements.

There’s no reason to be discouraged, though! Stay informed, know your expectations, and apply accordingly, and everything should run smoothly. Good luck!