Digital Nomad Visa in Spain: A Guide for Remote Workers

Life in Spain
What remote workers worldwide have been eagerly awaiting has become a reality: Spain is finally issuing visas to digital nomads, which means those who dreamt of relocating can now prepare their applications.

At Dreamlife Spain, we've put together a comprehensive action plan, covering requirements for digital nomads and legal life hacks that can save you time and money. If you've longed to extend your stay in Spain beyond the typical 90-day tourist limit, this guide is for you.

Guide Contents:

— Background and Legal Basis
— What is a Digital Nomad Visa in Spain?
— Advantages of the Digital Nomad Visa
— How to Determine If the Digital Nomad Visa Is Right for Me?
— Are There Tax Benefits When Obtaining the Digital Nomad Visa?
— Can I Work in Spain with the Digital Nomad Visa?
— How to Apply for the Digital Nomad Visa?

Background and Legal Basis

In 2013, the Spanish government introduced the Entrepreneur Law with the aim of attracting foreign entrepreneurs, investments, and talents. This law led to the creation of business visas, golden visas, and various residency options. However, it soon became clear that this law was insufficient to address the evolving needs of the market. Therefore, the government decided to focus on startups, talents, and innovation, recognizing the changing landscape. This led to the adoption of the Startup Law in 2022.

The primary objective of the Startup Law is to position Spain as one of the leading destinations for entrepreneurs, investors, and highly skilled workers. This sets the stage for a perfect blend of climate, culture, and a thriving business ecosystem — everything that holds great value for remote workers.

Perhaps the most noteworthy provision of the Startup Law is the introduction of a new residency option for digital nomads, known as the Digital Nomad Visa.

What is a Digital Nomad Visa in Spain?

The Digital Nomad Visa is a European residency that allows individuals to live in Spain and work remotely from the country. It can be granted for a cumulative period of up to 5 years.

This means that foreigners who wish to relocate to Spain can fulfill their dreams while continuing to serve international clients and maintain their remote work for companies abroad. Instead of applying for a work visa, you can now simply become a digital nomad, preserving your familiar work routine in a new country.

Advantages of the Digital Nomad Visa

  • One significant advantage of this type of visa is the ability to apply through two different scenarios:

1. From within Spain.

You can arrive in Spain with a tourist visa and, while in the country, apply for a 3-year digital nomad residency. It doesn't matter how many days are left on your Schengen visa.

2. From your home country.

It's possible to obtain a yearly visa in your home country at the Spanish consulate, and later convert it into a three-year Spanish residency permit.

Important: The three-year duration of this type of residency, including subsequent renewals, adds up to the required 5 years of residence in the country — necessary both for obtaining Spanish citizenship and for applying for permanent residency (permanent residency permit).

Spending 5 years in the digital nomad status is sufficient to be eligible for a passport from the sunniest European country.
  • The ability to relocate with your family is another advantage of the Digital Nomad Visa. This residency gives you the right to take your spouse and children with you, and the process goes through one application – you do not need to apply for family reunification, which means saving precious time.

  • Optimal processing times: 20 working days instead of long waiting periods. Moreover, if the digital nomad case review extends beyond 20 working days, the decision is automatically considered positive. Administrative silence is interpreted as an approved residency.

  • European residency offers boundless opportunities: the freedom to travel throughout the entire Schengen Area, access to one of the world's top healthcare systems, and education possibilities.

How to Determine If the Digital Nomad Visa Is Right for You?

Let's go over the basic requirements that are relevant in autumn 2023.
Who can become a digital nomad:

  • Employees from non-EU countries whose companies allow them to travel and work remotely from another country (in this case, Spain).

  • Self-employed individuals with multiple international clients or various sources of income from online activities outside of Spain.
If you want to apply for the Digital Nomad Visa in Spain, you should:

  • Currently work for companies (or be registered as a freelancer) located outside of Spain.

  • Ensure that incomes received from Spanish companies (or within Spain) do not exceed 20% of your total income.

  • Demonstrate that you have been conducting business with a company or international clients for a minimum of 3 months prior to applying.

  • Sign a contract with the same company for at least 1 year.

  • Maintain an annual income of €30,240, which amounts to €2,520 per month.

  • Be prepared to prove that you possess sufficient experience and education to successfully carry out your job responsibilities. This can be confirmed through either work experience and expertise (at least 3 years before applying), or a university diploma, professional institution diploma, or licensed business school diploma.

  • Have no criminal convictions or entry bans in Spain. You must provide a certificate of no criminal record valid for a minimum of 90 days, legalized and apostilled, along with confirmation that you have had no convictions in the past 5 years.

  • Pay the relevant administrative fee # 790 038.

  • Secure a private health insurance policy with complete coverage throughout Spain.

  • If you are an employee of a foreign company with a work contract, it's essential that the company has been operational for at least 1 year prior to your application. The company should confirm that your position involves remote work and that they permit you to do so.

  • If you are a freelancer, you must work for at least one company outside of Spain, and the terms of your contract should explicitly mention permission for remote work.

Are there any Tax Benefits when Obtaining the Digital Nomad Visa?

The tax aspect is an additional advantage of this type of residency. Indeed, digital nomads can benefit from a special tax regime that allows them to save on taxes.

As a digital nomad working for a foreign company, you are not considered a tax resident of Spain, which means your income is subject to much lower taxation compared to residents of the country.

In the event that you have not resided in Spain for the last 5 years (instead of the general rule of 10 years), you will be able to pay a fixed tax rate: only 24% of your income, instead of the progressive rate that can reach 48%.

To remain a non-tax resident, you will have to initiate a separate process. You can start it after 6 months from the moment you obtain the Digital Nomad Visa.

Importantly, besides the opportunity to pay only 24% tax on incomes up to €600,000, you won't have to pay property tax or file a tax statement.

Furthermore, digital nomads will be able to request a deferral of non-resident income tax in the first and second years with positive taxable income (without interest charges).

You can enjoy the simplified taxation regime for 5 years, provided you maintain the status of a digital nomad, and only then you will transition to the regular tax regime.

Can I Work in Spain with the Digital Nomad Visa?

So far, we've discussed the grounds on which the Digital Nomad Visa allows individuals to work remotely from Spain.

While this extends to working for a foreign company, can you work in Spain for a Spanish company or a local client?
Yes, but with an important limitation.

You can simultaneously work for a Spanish company, provided that:
a) you maintain your relationship with the foreign company that allowed you to obtain this visa;
b) the income you earn from the Spanish company does not exceed 20% of your total income.

How to Apply for the Digital Nomad Visa?

There are two options:

— Apply for the visa in your home country. You will receive a 1-year visa, which can then be replaced with temporary residency.

— Apply directly from Spain: you can come as a tourist and later obtain permission to stay for 3 years (and extend it for 2 years more). This is faster and simpler, with a response coming within 20 days.

Still have questions? We'll analyze your case directly from our office in Barcelona. You just need to choose a convenient time.