Spain digital nomad visa


Mar 28, 2024

In 2023, as part of its Startup Act, Spain launched a digital nomad visa designed to encourage entrepreneurship and foreign investment within its borders. The new digital nomad visa is aimed at attracting remote workers from outside the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA), offering them a legal avenue to live and work in Spain. Unlike short-term tourist visas, which don’t permit employment in Spain, the digital nomad visa allows non-EU citizens to reside in the country for extended periods while working for foreign employers.

Spain’s remote work visa comes at a time when remote work is not only feasible but also highly desirable. Countries around the globe are adapting to attract digital nomads—individuals who leverage technology to work remotely from anywhere in the world. Spain is just one recent example of a country that’s joined this movement, attracting remote workers and expats to enjoy the rich culture and vibrant life it offers while contributing to the local economy.

Wondering how to qualify for a digital nomad visa and work remotely from Barcelona, Valencia, or Madrid? Read on for the details.

Who is eligible for a Spanish digital nomad visa?

Spain's digital nomad visa requirements are less stringent than those of other countries that offer them, making it a popular and attractive choice for different types of remote workers. The eligibility criteria below will help you determine whether you qualify for the visa, but keep in mind that requirements can change and vary depending on an applicant’s home country, so it’s always a good idea to check the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for the latest criteria.

General requirements

Anyone applying for Spain’s digital nomad visa must:

  • Be a non-EU/EAA citizen
  • Have an undergraduate or postgraduate degree from a university, college, or business school, or have at least three years of work experience in their field
  • Have verifiable education, profession, or work experience, whether that’s by providing a copy of a university degree, employment contracts, or a professional certificate 

You must be able to prove that you’ve worked for at least three months. If you’re an employee of a foreign company, you must show you have their explicit consent to work in Spain. If you’re self-employed, you must show work contracts and any terms and conditions they include that allow you to work in Spain.

Certain family members can apply for the visa to accompany you without necessarily meeting all the visa requirements. This includes a spouse and dependent children or relatives in the ascending line who form part of the family unit. They’ll be required to submit documentation proving their relationship to you, as well as proof that they meet any other requirements (such as financial means for family members, which is outlined below).

Income requirements

Your work must provide the financial means for you to support yourself while living in Spain. Currently, the Spanish government requires at least 200% of the monthly Spanish minimum wage for the digital nomad visa (approximately £2,140 per month or £25,700 per year).

If you have family members (spouse or dependents) accompanying you, they must also prove they have the financial means—at least 75% of the Spanish minimum wage for the first family member and at least 25% of the minimum wage for each additional family member.

Any means of proof is acceptable, including bank statements, work contracts, etc.

Criminal record and background check

A clean criminal record is required for Spain’s digital nomad visa. When you apply for the visa, you’ll be asked to submit an original and a copy of a criminal record certificate issued by your country of residence for the past two years and a declaration confirming that you have no criminal record within the last five years.

Your criminal record certificate must be no more than six months old. If you’re from the UK, use an ACRO Certificate.

Health insurance

Lastly, you’ll need proof of public or private health insurance that’s valid in Spain and provides similar benefits to those you would receive as a Spanish resident. Submit proof of coverage along with your digital nomad visa application.

How to apply for the Spain digital nomad visa

If you meet the eligibility requirements above, you’re ready to start the application process for your digital nomad visa. Follow these steps to get started.

Step 1: Gather the necessary documents

To apply for Spain’s digital nomad visa, you’ll need a number of required documents. Keep in mind that, depending on your home country, you may need to translate or apostille some of your documents before submitting them with your visa application (see the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for the most up-to-date information). Here’s what to prepare:

  • A valid passport with at least one year remaining before it expires
  • A photocopy of pages in your passport that contain biometric data
  • Your visa application form, filled out and signed
  • Your birth certificate
  • A marriage certificate if you have a spouse who will accompany you to Spain
  • Proof of residence in your home country and consular district
  • Proof of your identity and capacity
  • Your criminal record certificate
  • Two recent passport-sized pictures
  • Proof of financial means meeting the visa requirements
  • Proof of health insurance coverage meeting the visa requirements
  • Documentation of your education or employment meeting the visa requirements
  • Payment for the visa fee

Step 2: Apply for a Foreigner Identity Number (NIE)

Before you can apply for a visa in Spain, you need a Foreigner Identity Number (NIE). An NIE is a personal, unique, and exclusive number assigned to foreigners that acts as their identification. You’ll use it for all bureaucratic processes, from opening a bank account to paying taxes or registering for social security.

To obtain an NIE, you must make an appointment at your Spanish Consulate and appear in person. At the appointment, you’ll be required to bring

  • Your NIE application form, completed but not signed
  • Proof of your need to obtain an NIE
  • A valid passport with at least one year remaining before it expires
  • A photocopy of pages in your passport that contain biometric data
  • Proof of residence in your home country and consular district
  • Form 790, code 12, completed
  • The application fee of £ 8.45, paid via card at the Consulate on the day of your appointment

If the NIE is requested via a representative, this representative must bring an original and a copy of their identity document or passport, along with a power of attorney that expressly states they’re empowered to present the NIE application. The power of attorney must be apostilled.

If the applicant is a minor or is incapacitated, a copy of the family record book, birth certificate, or guardianship document must be presented along with the parent or guardian’s valid passport or ID.

Step 3: Apply for the visa through your Spanish consulate or embassy

Once you’ve gathered your NIE and visa documents, you can submit your digital nomad visa application. Submit the application and all supporting documents to the Spanish embassy or consulate in your home country. The application fee varies by country and changes often, so check online for the latest information on costs.

You’ll also need to make an appointment. On your appointment date, you’ll appear at the consulate or embassy to present all of your documentation.

Step 4: Wait for your visa application to be reviewed and processed

The Consular Office will provide proof of receipt of your application, along with a code that allows you to check its status online. They may ask you to submit missing documents or provide additional data. They may also request an interview. The legal term for making a decision on the digital nomad visa is 10 days, but that can be extended if an interview or additional documentation is requested.

If your visa application is denied, you’ll be notified in writing. You can submit an appeal to the Consular Office within one month of receiving the denial letter.

If the visa application is approved, you must collect your visa and residency card in person within one month of receiving the approval notice.

Living and working in Spain with a digital nomad visa

Once you receive your Spanish digital nomad visa, you can enter Spain to live and work there, initially for up to a year. However, the visa still comes with some restrictions and requirements. Here’s what you need to know.

Residence permit, NIE, and NIF

While living in Spain, you’ll need three things:

  • Your residence permit, which you receive when your visa is approved
  • Your NIE 
  • A tax identification number or NIF to open a bank account or make significant purchases

You can obtain your NIF at your embassy or consulate before arriving in Spain or by visiting the Spanish Tax Agency after you arrive. You will need:

  • Form 030, completed
  • Your passport
  • Proof of residence in your home country and consular district or Spain if you choose to obtain your NIF there

Working in Spain

Spain’s digital nomad visa and the Startup Act establish a legal framework that allows foreign nationals to work remotely, start a business, and freelance in Spain. But they still have to follow certain rules to stay compliant with Spanish law and operate within visa requirements.

The most important rules are:

  • Visa holders must work remotely for a non-Spanish company, and their earnings must come primarily from outside of Spain.
  • Freelancers can do work for Spanish companies, but no more than 20% of their income may be generated by Spanish clients.
  • While entrepreneurs are encouraged to start businesses while on the visa, they must align with the Startup Act’s criteria for innovation and job creation and be headquartered or have a branch in Spain.

Tax implications for digital nomads living in Spain

The tax implications of living and working in Spain will vary depending on your home country and income. In general, Spain taxes non-residents on the digital nomad visa at 24% on any earnings up to €600,000 per year during their initial four years living in Spain. Any earnings above €600,000 per year are subject to a 48% income tax rate.

Tax residents of certain countries are exempt from Spain’s digital nomad tax regime, including residents of around 90 countries with which Spain has double taxation agreements. This includes the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and all EU member states, meaning that if you already pay taxes on your foreign income in one of these countries, you won’t be taxed on it again in Spain.

Digital nomads may be able to access other tax benefits, but these are highly dependent on each individual’s circumstances. Always consult a tax professional for advice on your financial situation.

Renewing or extending your Spain digital nomad visa

While the Spanish digital nomad visa is initially issued for one year, visa holders who meet the conditions established by Spanish authorities can apply for an extension. A residence permit extension can extend your stay for up to two more years and can then be renewed for another two years. This allows you to stay in Spain for up to five years with the digital nomad visa. 

Other visa options

If you want to continue living in Spain after your digital nomad visa expires, you may be eligible to apply for permanent residence after five years of continuously living in the country. You may also be eligible for another type of visa. Some other popular visa options for non-EU/EEA citizens include:

  • Non-lucrative visa: This visa is for those who are no longer working and want to spend their time in Spain. You must be able to prove that you have passive income from a retirement fund or similar source of income of at least €27,115.20 per year.
  • Golden visa: Golden visas are for those who plan to retire in Spain by purchasing a home or making a similar large investment in the country. You must be able to invest €500,000 or more.
  • Tourist visa: For many visitors, a tourist visa is sufficient. Depending on your home country, you can typically remain in Spain on a tourist visa for up to 90 days, though you aren’t permitted to work with this visa, and it doesn’t offer any paths to permanent residence.

Spain digital nomad visa FAQs

How long does Spain’s digital nomad visa last?

Spain’s digital nomad visa is issued for an initial period of one year. It can be extended for an additional two years, then two more years, as long as the visa holder continues to meet all Spanish government requirements, for a total of five years.

How much does Spain’s digital nomad visa cost?

The cost for the Spanish digital nomad visa varies depending on your home country and changes often, but expect to spend around €75-€100. Check the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for the most up-to-date information on visa fees. Keep in mind that visa application fees are non-refundable, even if your application is deferred or denied.

Who is eligible for Spain’s digital nomad visa?

The Spanish digital nomad visa is available to non-EU/EEA citizens with undergraduate or postgraduate degrees or at least three years of job experience who work remotely for a non-Spanish company or who are self-employed.

Under the Startup Act, they can be entrepreneurs looking to start a company in Spain as long as it meets certain criteria for innovation and job creation. They also need to meet visa requirements for financial solvency, have no criminal history, and provide their own healthcare while living in Spain.

How long does it take to get a Spanish digital nomad visa?

The total processing time for the visa is typically 15-45 days, but it can vary depending on whether the Consular Office requests additional documentation or an interview.

What other countries offer digital nomad visas?

As of 2024, there are 65 countries with digital nomad visas other than Spain:

  • Albania
  • Anguilla
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Aruba
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Bali
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bermuda
  • Brazil
  • Cabo Verde
  • Canada
  • Cayman Islands
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Curacao
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Dominica
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • El Salvador
  • Estonia
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Grenada
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Latvia
  • Mauritius
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Montenegro
  • Montserrat
  • Namibia
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • North Macedonia
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Saint Lucia
  • Serbia
  • Seychelles
  • Sri Lanka
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Vietnam

How does Spain’s digital nomad visa compare to other countries?

Spain is an exciting, affordable country in Western Europe, known for bustling cities, great food, fine wine, and cultural diversity. It allows easy access to the Schengen Area and many other European countries, making it an attractive place for digital nomads. With that said, Spain requires a higher income than many other countries that offer digital nomad visas, and its tax regime, which double taxes remote workers from some countries, can be a downside for certain individuals.

Disclaimer: Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, accounting, or legal advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide or be relied on for tax, accounting, or legal advice. You should consult your own tax, accounting, and legal advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.

last edited: March 28, 2024

The Author

Christina Marfice

Christina is a writer, editor, and content strategist based in Chicago. Having lived and worked in Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, she’s bringing her expertise on hiring in Latin America to Rippling.