No matter if you are a foreigner or a local citizen of Spain, everybody is allowed to start your business in the country. The only requirement is that you are a legal resident.
Nevertheless, according to your country of origin, the process can get more complicated.
The actual legal constitution steps of the business are the following no matter if you are a foreigner or not. What’s different is the need to become a legal resident in the country, which creates an extra prior step you will need to realize.
So let’s examine the two possible cases:
- If you are from any country from the European Union, the procedure is straightforward. You just need to get your NIE and EU registry certificate, and then you can simply move to the constitution part. You can learn more about how to move to Spain as a European citizen here.
- Nevertheless, if you are a non-EU citizen; you will need to get your working visa to start your business in the country.
How to set up a company in Spain as an expat
In order to start your business in the Spanish territory, you will need to go through the next steps:
- Get your NIE number
- Defining the names of the company and checking its validity: certificate of uniqueness
- Getting your CIF or tax ID number
- Opening a bank account to be used by the company
- Establish the shareholders and creating the shareholder agreement
- Going to the notary and signing the public deed of incorporation
- Registering the company with the tax authorities
- Registering the company in the social security
The 8 steps to starting your business as a foreigner
Get the NIE Number
The first thing to do as a foreigner is to get your NIE number. That is the identification number that will allow you to open a bank account, be tax identified, etc. The NIE is the most important thing in order to freely operate in Spain.
Getting the NIE is a really simple process. The amount of time in which you can obtain it will depend on whether if you are an EU citizen or not: it takes 3 to 5 working days to obtain the NIE number for EU citizens; and the time period for non-EU ones will vary depending on the corresponding Immigration Office.
There are two possibilities to get this number:
- Do it from your country of origin, at the Spanish consulate
- Doing it while in Spain. For that, getting an appointment in any police office is required.
Names of the Company
Once you have your NIE number you need to obtain what’s called a certificate of uniqueness. This document states that the name of your company is free to be used and is now under your possession. How to get it?
You need to make a list of 3 names you would like to give to your company. They must be sent to the Corporate Register of Spain in order to check their availability.
If available, they will accept one of the three, depending on the preferences you set beforehand when submitting them. This process can take up to 48 hours.
This will be the official name of the company, which will appear on your invoices and other documents.
Nevertheless, you can ask the registry for an additional name to be used in other non-legal situations or purposes.
Opening a Bank Account for your Business
Now that you already have your NIE you can easily open a business bank account in Spain.
Assuming you chose to start a Limited Liability Company, you are required to contribute with 3.000€ in cash for the constitution of the firm, which you will need to have on a deposit in the newly created account.
At this point, you need to decide how many and who will be the shareholders of the company. Besides, determining who the director of the company will be is a required step.
In that sense, there are two different types of directors.
- First of all, we find the corporate director (“director mercantil”). She doesn’t need to have a salary or a work permit, and once a year he needs to sign the annual accounting of the company. Having this type of director implies that you will also need to have one worker under your structure, as the Spanish legislation requires.
- But what many companies actually do is to have one director with corporate and working functions altogether, so the need to have an employee is eliminated.
Once that is decided, you just need to create the shareholder agreement, defining each shareholder and the share percentage each has. This is one of the most crucial steps of the process; as you need to foresee any future possibilities in order to avoid problems later on. That is why we hugely recommend relying on a business lawyer.
Going to the notary to sign the public deed
With all the previously mentioned documents (NIE number, the bank certificate and the certificate from the Registro Mercantil), you now need to go to the notary to sign the public deed of incorporation. There, you will establish who the investors/shareholders and the administrator are.
Furthermore, you will need to introduce an address.
Also, you will need to clearly define which is the activity of the company. Our advice here is to be as open as possible: introducing all the activities related to what you are going to do. That is a crucial step. Why? Because it will avoid the need of going again to the notary in the future if you expand your business or pivot the core activity.
Then, the notary will register the company in the Company Registry. This process can take up to 3 weeks. Nevertheless, from the day we sign the set up of the company at the notary, they will give you a provisional VAT number, with which you can start your activity.
If you rely on us for the whole process of opening a business in the Spanish territory, we will coordinate and represent you in the notary, getting all the required appointments with the different legal institutions that appear among all the steps.
- First of all, you need to download the corresponding application form on the tax agency’s website
- Then, you fill that form out
- You get an appointment with your local tax agency office to present it, along with your NIE.
If you want to import/export within the EU, you will need an EORI number. In most cases, it is assigned automatically when you register your company, but otherwise, you will have to apply for it as well.
Registering with social security
And, finally, the last step: visiting your local social security office to register your newly created business.
Bear in mind that if you are registering as a sole trader there’s a specific regime that applies, called RETA. During your appointment, you’ll need to present the 036 or 037 form, your NIE, passport and IRPF form.
And then you are ready to go! 🥳