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Expats Working in Spain

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: January 2015

Permission to Work

If you are a citizen of the European Economic Area or Switzerland, you have the right to work in Spain and do not require any further documentation. You must be over 16 for an employed job and over 18 if you are self-employed. You can enter Spain freely, but to be allowed to look for work you must register with the National Employment Office. You initially have 90 days to find a job, but you can leave Spain and later return for another 90 days if you like. Given the current situation, you may well need this extra time.

If you are from outside the EEA or Switzerland, you will need a work permit before you can work in Spain.  There are several types of these, ranging from Type A for temporary workers to Type E, which is a permanent work permit, renewable every five years.  In order to get a work permit, you must have a firm contract of employment. This is true for even short-term work lasting less than three months. If you want to stay in Spain for longer than three months, you will also need a residence card (for more information, see Settlement, Residence and Citizenship). However, it may also be difficult to obtain a residence card without gaining a firm contract of employment first.

You should present your application for a work permit to at the Ministry of Labour’s provincial office. In addition, you will need the following:

Once you have gained a work permit, if you are living abroad, you now need to apply for a work visa. The documents you require for a work visa depend on whether you are ‘highly qualified’, self-employed or just an ordinary employee. Once this process is completed, you will be able to work in Spain for a year before a renewal is needed. The visa fee is usually €60, and you should receive a decision within two months.

Working Conditions

Overall, working conditions in Spain are at a high standard, as Spanish labour laws provide ample protection for workers. However, your individual rights and obligations will also depend on the nature of your contract.

Full-time workers in Spain generally work a maximum of 40 hours per week and are entitled to 30 days of paid annual leave. There are also 12 national holidays and 2 local holidays each year. Additionally, workers get one day off when moving house, 2 days off for the birth of a child or death of a family member, up to 15 days off when they get married and 16 consecutive weeks of paid parental leave. It is common to inform your employer about your holiday plans around 2 months in advance.

Traditionally, working hours in Spain are from around 9:00 to mid-evening, with a two to three hour siesta (break) at 2:00. However, many companies, particularly in larger cities in the North, have adjusted to European working times and shortened their mid-day break to one hour.

Salaries vary greatly, depending on the sector, position and region where you work. Overall they tend to be on the lower end when compared with other EU countries. However, strict regulations exist regarding minimum payment. The National Minimum Wage is readjusted annually and is currently set at €21.51 per day or €645.30 per month. Employers also pay social contributions for their employees.

For more information on working conditions in Spain see the Public Employment Service (Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal, SEPE) brochure on Working in Spain or consult the website of the Ministry of Employment and Social Security. For further topics about working in Spain, see our Employment and Business articles.




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