Digital nomad visas in Spain: a practical guide for UK solicitors
The digital nomad lifestyle has become increasingly popular among professionals, including UK solicitors, who seek the freedom to work remotely while exploring new destinations.
Spain has recently implemented a residence permit for digital nomad visas to attract remote workers, providing an opportunity to work legally while experiencing the country's vibrant culture and stunning landscapes.
This guide provides UK solicitors with essential information on the benefits, rules, eligibility criteria, application process and tips for a successful application.
Fresh startups in Spain
The “Startups Law” or Law 28/2022, enacted on 21 December 2022, aims to foster the growth and development of startups in Spain.
The law establishes a specific regulatory framework to attract talent, stimulate investment and encourage startups to relocate to Spain.
As part of this law, several amendments have been made to mechanisms related to foreign investment and work in Spain.
Notably for UK solicitors, it introduces rules on residency for non-EU nationals engaged in remote professional or labour activities for companies outside Spain.
These activities must be conducted exclusively through computer, electronic and telecommunications equipment and systems.
Labour activities are restricted to companies outside Spain. However, for professional activities, work can be provided for companies within Spain as long as it does not exceed 20% of the total professional activity.
The law also establishes requirements for obtaining visas and residency authorisations.
Visas are requested at the Spanish Consulate and are available to foreigners intending to live in Spain and work remotely for companies located abroad, for a maximum period of one year.
Residency authorisations are requested directly from Spain and are granted to foreigners residing in Spain on a regular basis or those legally entering Spain who wish to live and work remotely for foreign companies, for a maximum period of three years, extendable for two-year periods, subject to meeting specified conditions.
Benefits of the Spanish digital nomad visa
1. Workation: work and explore
Combine work and leisure. Work legally in Spain while immersing yourself in the rich culture, diverse cuisine and breathtaking sights.
2. Networking opportunities
Connecting with like-minded professionals in Spain can generate more business opportunities and cross selling.
3. Open to family members
The law allows the following family members to apply for a digital nomad visa simultaneously:
- spouse or civil partner of the main applicant
- children up to 18 years old
- children older than 18 who can prove they depend financially on the main applicant
- parents if they depend financially on the main applicant
Family members older than 16 will also be granted authorisation to work in Spain, together with the visa.
4. Access to essential services
Access public services such as healthcare, education and banking, ensuring a convenient and comfortable stay.
5. Exploring legal work opportunities
Carry out specific legal work, including freelance or remote work, within Spain's legal framework.
The visa is open to both self-employed freelancers with multiple clients and remote workers employed by a company outside of Spain.
Rules and regulations
UK solicitors on a digital nomad visa can engage in remote legal work. However, it is advisable to consult with legal professionals or Spanish authorities to ensure compliance with local regulations and restrictions.
Who can apply
The digital nomad visa is available to non-EU, non-EEA and non-Swiss citizens.
To apply for a digital nomad visa in Spain, you must:
- be from outside the European Economic Area
- not be living illegally in Spain
- not have a criminal record in the country where you have been living within the past five years
Employment and remote working
Both self-employed freelancers with multiple clients and remote workers employed by a single company outside of Spain are eligible for the visa.
You’ll need to show that your job can be done remotely, and either:
- a contract of employment, or
- if freelancing, that you’ve been regularly employed by a company outside Spain
You must prove that you’re qualified or experienced in your field. At least three years' work experience is required in lieu of qualifications such as a university degree or professional certificate.
You’ll need to provide evidence of working with your clients or company for at least three months before applying.
Additionally, the company you work for must have been operational for at least one year.
You'll need to show:
- financial stability – such as proof of income, savings or a work contract to support your stay
- a clean criminal record
Employees also need to have comprehensive health insurance valid in Spain.
If you’re a freelancer, you’ll need to register for social security in Spain. This will give you access to public health care without the need for private insurance.
How to apply for a digital nomad visa: tips for UK solicitors
The take-up of the Spanish digital nomad visa has been steadily increasing since its introduction.
Understanding the benefits, rules and application process enhances your chances of a successful application.
1. Start with thorough research
Understand the specific eligibility criteria, rules and regulations for the digital nomad visa in Spain. Familiarise yourself with the required documents and application process.
Check how your UK social security status may be affected if you’re granted a Spanish digital nomad visa.
If you’re an associate of a UK-based law firm, it is essential that you first seek approval from the firm’s management.
2. Preparing your documents
Compile all necessary documents before you leave the UK, including proof of income, employment contracts, savings and a clear criminal record.
Ensure your financial documents (such as proof of income, savings or employment contract) are accurate and up to date.
Organise and present documents accurately to avoid delays or rejection. One common mistake is taking for granted the compliance of a requirement without its supporting evidence.
Make sure to prove that your work can be carried out solely by using digital and telecommunication tools, and that your physical presence in the office is not required.
3. Applying for your visa
Applicants holding a UK passport can request the visa directly from Spain, simply crossing the border as a tourist and taking advantage of the 90/180 days rule.
Gather the required documents for your visa application before leaving the UK.
Apply directly from Spain (three years’ permit), rather than at the Spanish Consulate (one-year visa).
When filling out the application form:
- pay attention to detail: be accurate and provide all necessary evidence
- double-check for errors or omissions before you submit
- be responsive to additional document requests
Applications from Spain are filed digitally by a designated representative. Spanish authorities have 20 working days to issue the corresponding resolution. If they fail to do so, the application is deemed to be approved for “positive silence”.
Embrace the adventure, gather your documents and embark on an enriching digital nomad journey in Spain.