Understanding the legal framework for starting a business in Spain…

The Spanish State Department for Trade of the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade offers an English-language website with a step-by-step guide to the process of starting a business in Spain.

Note: This INFOrmation Page is an introductory overview of the options and processes to set up in business in Spain. Expert advice should always be considered before any action is taken.

Who May Start a Business in Spain

Foreigners may undertake a for-profit activity in Spain as long as they are legally entitled to work in the country. EU citizens may set up a business in Spain without restriction once they have their NIE number (Número de Identificación de Extranjero).

A non-EU citizen who wishes to set up a company in Spain must have the necessary visa and work permit and prove that they have a minimum capital investment to start a business. They will also need to prove that they will provide work for Spanish nationals.

Regulated Professions

Certain professions in Spain are regulated and, as such, the person will need to have their diplomas or qualifications recognised in order to exercise their economic activity. These include doctors, dentists, midwives, lawyers, paramedical professions, lawyers, accountants, teachers and engineers.

Numbers: NIE, NIF, CIF and IVA

The NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) is the equivalent of a Spaniards NIF (Número de Identificación Fiscalwhich serves as a fiscal identification number. The NIE number begins with an X followed by seven or eight digits and another letter.

The CIF number (Certificado de Identificación Fiscal) is equivalent to the NIF, but applies to companies. It is made up of a letter and eight digits.

The Número IVA is the Spanish VAT (value added tax) number. It takes the “ES” followed by the CIF number.