A Look At Spain’s Entrepreneur Visa Program

Silicon Valley might be the startup capital of the U.S., but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best place to start a company. When considering taking your startup overseas, there are a number of factors you must take into consideration – starting with visa regulations.

Visa offerings and regulations vary widely from country to country. Not only do all countries have different rules and procedures, but they also treat people coming in from foreign countries differently.

An American citizen trying to move to the United Kingdom will have different restrictions and requirements than a citizen coming in from an European Union country or a citizen coming in from a Southeast Asian country.

This is why it’s crucial to understand how visa laws pertain to your specific, individual situation before fully planning the move.

That said, many countries offer special long-term visas for specifically for entrepreneurs and startups. With that in mind, we’ll be starting a regular post series highlighting some different visas and work opportunities around the world, starting with Spain.

The Place:

Spain – home of flamenco, bullfights and lots of beaches.

The Visa:

Visa and Residence Authorization for Entrepreneurs and Business Activities under the Ley de Emprendedores law enacted in 2013.

There are two visa possibilities under the new laws – an entrepreneur visa and an entrepreneur residency authorization that can extend the time you’re allowed in the country. Both options allow citizens from non-EU countries the opportunity to start and build a business while living in Spain.

Time Frames:

Entrepreneur visas are good for one year and can be obtained in ten days. Entrepreneur residency authorizations are good for two years with the option to be renewed and can be obtained in 20 days.

The Requirements:

Those interested in obtaining one of the visas must have a business plan approved by the government and prove that they have sufficient funding. There are no specific business guidelines or investment minimums.

Additional general requirements include applicants to:

  • Be 18 years or older
  • Not have any criminal records
  • Not be in an illegal situation in Spain
  • Have public or private health insurance within Spain
  • Have sufficient financial resources to support themselves and any dependents living in Spain
  • Pay the visa application fees
  • Have all documentation translated into Spanish by a licensed translator

For information specific to your particular situation contact the Spanish consulate in your country for more information. A list of both embassies and consulates can be found here.

How To Apply:

Foreign entrepreneurs outside of the country must apply for the entrepreneur visa at a Spanish consulate while entrepreneurs already legally in Spain can apply for an entrepreneur authorization in Spain and should contact their embassy for more information.

Who Should Apply:

Anyone living outside of a European Union country with the interest of living and starting a business in Spain. It’s often difficult to live and work in an EU country as an outsider – if you’re interested in it than you may want to take advantage of Spain’s attempt to draw in successful businesses and skilled workers.

Why Spain?

It may seem odd at first to begin building your startup in a country that saw 27% unemployment last year, but that’s actually one of the exact reasons it makes sense.

While other markets in the U.S. and Europe are reaching saturation, Spanish cities have a lower cost of living, less competition and a large talent pool. Plus, the country is gorgeous and once a foreigner has obtained they entrepreneur visa they will have an easier time moving throughout other European Union countries.

Additional Information & Resources:

Additional visas are available for foreign investors and those purchasing large amounts of real estate.

Though the entrepreneur visa has been available since September 2013, it still hasn’t been widely publicized or used – a recent New York Times article said that fewer than 100 entrepreneurs have actually been granted residency through the process.

Since it’s relatively new and not commonly used, it’s best to start getting information by contacting the consulate nearest you.

You can also read more about the visa at the links below:

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