Starting a Business in Spain
As more and more foreigners move to Spain to start a new life, the demand for quality products and service in all manner of industries is growing, leaving the market wide open for anyone wanting to start their own business in Spain. There are however several fundamental issues that must be addressed in order to ensure all goes to plan. Before you start any business venture in Spain you will have examined the market to make sure there is a demand for the product or service you are to provide. Bear in mind that the market here is very different to that in your home country. As an EU citizen you have every right to start a business in Spain, just as though you were at home so once you have convinced yourself of the viability of your new business, you can get started.
Step one, no matter what you decide to do is to visit the national police station and apply for an N.I.E. number. This is simply an identification number for foreigners and is mainly for tax purposes. Simply take along your passport and complete a simple form. Usually your number can be collected within four weeks. Download the form here.
In Spain there are two levels at which a business must be registered. At local level you need to register your business with the town hall and obtain an opening licence (Licencia de Apertura) which will clearly define your business and the way in which it will trade. At national level you will register with the IVA office which is the equivalent of the Inland Revenue office. The Agencia Tributaria will collect your tax. You will need to be fluent in Spanish to undertake the form filling on your own, otherwise employ the services of a Gestoria who will do all the hard work for you for a reasonable fee. The next step would be to decide on the format of your business, similar to in the UK with PLC and Ltd companies. You will need expert advice as to which type best suits your business.
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Empresa Individual is equal to a sole trader with the business being run in one persons name only.
Sociedad Civil is a partnership where several individuals will come together to form a business.
Sociedad Limitada is a limited company with registered shareholders and a set minimum trading capital in the bank.
Sociedad Anonima is a larger company with a large minimum trading capital. This S.A. company also has shareholders.
Whether you are a resident in Spain or not, if you have an income here, you may be liable for tax payments, as in any other country. As a foreigner it can be a complicated and costly situation so you will without doubt need specialist advice. Your Gestoria will be able to help you.
Social Security payments
All businesses are registered with the Social Security Office and as such will be liable for social security payments which vary according to the status of the business. Making these payments will entitle you to the benefits of the local health service such as doctors and hospitals. The payments will also contribute towards an old age pension, although contributions have to be paid for a minimum of 15 years to qualify.
A company employing people will also have to pay social security on their behalf. This stresses the fact that if you employ people you must have a proper written contract with them for mutual protection.
Finally, if you are buying an existing business in Spain it is vital that you examine every aspect of the business before signing anything or parting with your money. It is crucial that you ensure the company has no debts or tax liabilities that would be transferred with the business.
If you do take the plunge and start a business in Spain, you will find that you are accepted by the Spanish as a foreigner and you will have the respect that you earn. You will however find many business practices here very different to those in your home country. You will also find it impossible and unreasonable to try to change them. There is however, plenty of money to be made.
One thing you could do is buy a bar in Spain - something that thousands have already done. See a selection of businesses for sale on the Costa del Sol, here
When you buy a business in Spain, you buy the business debts too ! See a good guide here
How to get a Social Security Number:
The process of getting a social security number is now very easy.
Simply go to any social security office, with your original passport and copy of the passport. You will have to fill in a form, which is in Spanish, but its quite easy as the normal questions are asked like, name, address, names of parents etc. They issue the number there and then and give you a temporary card. They send on the plastic card at their leisure. It is not necessary to have a job, or even a NIE to get a social security number.
Why do you need a Social Security Number?:
You need a social security number to work in Spain. I am sure that you are aware that if you are self-employed you have to pay into the social security, but also if you are employed you pay and this should be deducted by your employer before payment.
You are entitled to social security benefits, but pro rata to what you have paid in.
You also are entitled to medical care i.e. you can sign on with your local doctor.
You only have to pay if you are earning money in Spain, i.e. not on any pension from the UK.