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Hamilton Bone on working in Spain: Overcoming the bureaucratic odds

Hamilton Bone arrived in Spain in 2010 as an auxiliar de conversación. After a few unsuccessful attempts to get the cuenta propia, Hamilton entered into a pareja de hecho with his German girlfriend. He’s now an estate agent, living in sunny Málaga. We asked him a few questions about visas, working in Spain and his experience overall!

Name: Hamilton Bone

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Current city: Málaga

Working in Spain since: 2010

Current residency type: PDH

Living in Spain

Beautiful Spanish countryside

What brought you to Spain? How long did you initially plan to stay; and did your plans change since then?

I originally came to Spain as an Auxiliar de conversación after graduating from Colorado State. I thought “Well I’ll give this a shot for a year, and just see how it goes!” I kept renewing the program, ran out of time, and…. kind of fell in love with Spain.

Was Spain what you expected? Did you have any doubts before arriving?

The Spain back then was very different than what people know in 2019. I had honestly no idea what I was getting myself into – I thought that Spain was just guapas, tapas, and toros.

It was a major culture shock when I arrived in Bilbao in the Basque Country. While America’s states and provinces are quite similar, Spain is much more diverse. Each community has its own style of doing things.

But it was just as slow as I expected, and the bureaucracy was awful. I made the mistake of trying to paddle upstream rather than just going with the flow. It’s hard when you’re raised with an American mentality.  

How does Spain compare to your home country? Do you prefer living here? Why?

Spain is so different from my home country and it took a lot of time for me to realize that there is a reason they’re some of the happiest people in the world. In America, everything is so black and white, and we are always stressed and on the go.

Sometimes you have to stop and smell the oranges – so to speak. I wake up everyday realizing just how lucky I am to be here. In America, I didn’t fit in so well, and feel I belong more here among Europeans. But en serio this is my adopted country and I feel about 75% European/Spanish and 25% American. It’s hard sometimes to talk to people when I go back to the States because there’s a lot of things that people just talk about on the surface.

What have you found to be the most challenging aspects about living abroad in Spain – personally, professionally and culturally speaking?

The most challenging part was getting used to the way the Spanish do things and realizing not everything is best in the USA. Personally and professionally, the Spanish are used to doing things their own way. Here in Andalucía, I sometimes feel it’s more important to look like you know what you’re doing rather than actually doing it.

Also, everyone always has to have their say. I’m a real estate agent and during a meeting last week we made a general statement, encouraging the agents to be more productive. One guy took it personally, and it went on and on.

Culturally speaking sometimes it’s tough. Even just walking through the streets – the Spanish haven’t got a personal space bubble and prefer to stroll without a care in the world. For all my complaints, I wouldn’t change a thing though and love them dearly.


Working in Spain

Working in Spain on the beach

Are you currently working in Spain? How did you find your current job?

At the minute, I’m a real estate agent with Keller Williams, Málaga. Although I come from a real estate family, I didn’t think about getting into it until after a few months of job hunting here.


What career advice would you have for other foreigners thinking about working in Spain? Is it easy or difficult to find opportunities in your sector?

Be prepared to not find a job! I live in Spain’s poorest region where there’s a high level of unemployment. I am autónomo, which scares a lot of people because after two years you have to pay €365 every month. Just to be a freelancer.

Most of the people here who have jobs are mileuristas, meaning they make €1,000 net monthly. Take out €300-350 for rent, etc. and there isn’t much left. With just €600-700 for food, drinks, gym, or other similar expenses, it becomes really hard to save.

In the past, I looked down on the Spanish who lived with their moms until they were 30. But it makes a whole lot more sense now. I spent three or four months on LinkedIn before I thought I’ve got to do something radically different. There wasn’t much on there that applied to anything I could do. Unless you’re in a big city, you’re kind of limited. Also, don’t expect to get a job if you don’t speak Spanish – unless you’re in a heavy expat area.

There are tons of unemployed Spanish, and a lot of them want to be funcionarios (government employees) because they are very secure jobs. My mom actually mentioned something about real estate and I thought “why not,” and here I am some months later!

As a foreigner, the important thing is to think about what you can do that’s not already being done. In my case, I’m providing a much-needed service as a good agent. Here in Spain, the sector is quite unregulated, which means it’s a lot like the Wild West. The number of dodgy things that I’ve seen makes it amazing anyone owns a house at all.


Spanish immigration processes

Cutting the red tape

What kind of visa or permit did you initially come to Spain with? What was the process for obtaining it and how long did it take?

I originally came over on a student visa with the auxiliares de conversaciones program. It took some 3-4 months after applying to get it all done. If I had followed the exact list they provided (my own silliness), I’m sure I would have been working in Spain much sooner.

Have you gone through the process of changing your residency type? What options did you consider and what process did you finally choose? What was the process and how long did it take?

Yes, actually I did. I was on a student visa for some years before applying for the cuenta propia (freelance visa) twice, with two separate business plans. I was denied the first time because they needed more documents. My lawyer here in Málaga didn’t turn in the appeal within the allocated 10 business days – so that went out the window. I didn’t find out till some months later, after an appointment with the head of the immigration department.

The second time I used a much more highly recommended lawyer who was in Madrid (you CAN use a lawyer from a different city). I was denied on grounds that I’d been out of the country for seven or eight days more than I should have in the last three years. My brother died the Christmas before and obviously I spent a good month and a half there. Heartbroken again.

The third time I had my German girlfriend do pareja de hecho, which was the most streamlined of everything, and it’s how I finally got my residency. She freaked out the whole time, making a big deal of it unnecessarily. However, now she doesn’t remember that part of it…

Based on what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently in terms of your immigration process? What advice to you have for others?

I would have been more on top of things and thought more ahead. I would have saved documents in the correct places, and, more importantly, have read older posts in the SpainGuru group. That group is a treasure chest of knowledge and free information. Don’t be that person that apologizes for not using the search box and making a small effort. The returns on a small esfuerzo are worth every second of it – not to mention we want to help.


The future

Looking out to sea

How much longer do you see yourself in Spain? What are your goals for working here in Spain and your goals on a personal level?

That’s a great question! I think [going back] would be very difficult and a massive culture shock. I’ve spent basically my whole adult life out of America where I’ve grown so much and gotten out of my comfort one, and it’s shaped who I am now. I love who I am now, and it’s thanks to being here in Spain.

Have you ever considered going back to your home country/or to another country? Why or why not?

My mother is all by herself back in America, and it breaks my heart every day that I’m here having a great time and she’s there. So, it’s never easy. This is one of those times where there is no right decision. I feel selfish but I do want to make it here to show her how far I’ve come.

Any tips for those still deciding whether to stay long term to live in Spain?

That it’s OK to go through the process now, and decide later if you want to go back to your home country or continue working in Spain. Learn the language, it’s OK to be a guiri – just don’t be a bad one.

Finally, and most importantly, let the Spanish be Spanish. My biggest fallo was not being able to embrace them for who they are and all their quirks. You’ll see things that you won’t agree with, and that will stress you out, but you’ve just got to go with it and smile.

Thinking of working in Spain full time? Check out our residency options to see what path you can take.

Preparing for Brexit: What are British expats in Spain doing?

It’s March 2019 and T-minus four weeks until the looming deadline, which will decide (or not) how Brexit moves forward. As a long-term US immigrant in Spain who has been dealing with residency, legal and financial issues for over 10 years, I wondered how my British friends and colleagues were preparing for Brexit.

I work full-time for a large multinational corporation whose EU headquarters are based in the UK, and they have a special task-force dedicated to readying the company for Brexit. I have been impressed with their bi-weekly calls and continuous updates on the company homepage, as well as the emails sent out by our HR department and the Heads of this Brexit task force. I began wondering: Are all companies preparing this way? Are other companies helping their British expats? And how are British freelancers and small business owners handling all of this?

The Brexit bunch

I sent out a call to those I knew to see how they were preparing for Brexit and ended up speaking with a mixture of people. Some are recent arrivals and others have been living in Spain for over 10 years. There are freelancers and small-business owners; and others who are contracted cuenta ajena workers here in Spain. Some are married to Spaniards, some with children, some who own property in Spain, and others who are half-British and half-European, raised in the UK. With such a diverse group of people, each had a unique story to tell.

Chris Webb

I contacted Chris Webb who is a Partner at The Spectrum IFA Group. It’s a Pan European advisory but he is based in the Madrid region. He has been in Spain since 2013, and plans to live here permanently. I asked Chris how he’s been preparing for Brexit:

“I have my permanent residence card, I have double checked I’m still registered on the Padron. I have converted my UK driving licence to a Spanish one and I have copies of my Empadronamiento Histórico and Vida Laboral to show where I have lived and worked and for how long.”

Regarding his company, and how they are preparing for Brexit, he stated that:

The company is legally registered and regulated as a Spanish company, so we haven’t had to make many internal changes. It does impact some of the investment solutions we work with, but on the whole it has only had a small impact. We are set up in other EU countries in exactly the same way – so we are as ‘Brexit proof’ as possible.”

Laura Brooksbank

Laura Brooksbank, originally from Liverpool, has been in Spain since 2006 (although she officially moved here permanently in 2008). I asked Laura the same question as Chris regarding what she has been doing to prepare for Brexit:

When the referendum was first being discussed, I realised I met the requirements for permanent residency as I had been living here for more than 5 years. So that was the first step I took. Last year, I also exchanged my driving licence for a Spanish one. However, the biggest step I took is a more recent and serious one, as I submitted my Spanish nationality application in October 2018. This was something I had been thinking about before Brexit but the loss of EU rights was the additional push I needed. The decision to strip me of my rights to free movement was one taken by the British population, but I am in the fortunate position to be able to reverse that, even if it could mean renouncing my British nationality.”

Laura is a Solutions Architect in the payments/financial services sector for a large multinational tech company. I asked her whether her company was handling the current Brexit situation in a similar way to mine.

“As a French multinational company with offices throughout the UK, it’s quite possible that there could be financial and human impacts post-Brexit. I am not aware of what planning has been undertaken and (I) haven’t received any information myself.”  

I asked Laura whether there was anything that she feared regarding Brexit, especially with how it might affect her financially or her family back in the UK and she said:

“In the short term, I worry about the economic impacts a no-deal Brexit could have on my family and friends back in the UK. I am not so worried for myself as my residency status should be OK, especially given the recent assurances by the Spanish government (subject to reciprocity). But in the longer term I am worried about the growing mindset of divisiveness, borders, walls and isolation – not just in the UK but across the world.”

Matt Bleakly

Photo of man in checked shirt

Next I spoke with Matt Bleakly, a freelancer, who is a business coach & consultant and the founder of MB Coaching EU. His company provides business coaching, training (centered around business skills) and consultation services to professionals and companies. He has been in Spain since 2011 and is currently married to his Spanish wife and they have one child together. His son currently holds both passports. I asked Matt how Brexit is currently affecting his financial investments and he told me:

“I own my business and my wife and I are looking to buy a house in the next year or so. Brexit adds another layer of stress and confusion with that – not only because people are nervous about financial security, but because countries in the EU like Spain may adapt their law to consider people in my situation. They can take an undetermined amount of time to decide what to do, or they could even flat out reject amending laws to British ex-pats. This essentially puts us in no-mans land, politically and legally.”

I asked Matt how he was going about handling his business – especially with being a freelancer and a small business owner who works not only in Spain but across the EU as well and he stated:

“What I do is not very common in Spain, and Brexit has made everything a lot less stable for the foreseeable future. So I have been exploring options to put my business online, as well as exploring options in other countries. It makes me feel like I am spreading the risk more, rather than being dependent on one or two countries for survival.  Also, my intensive summer courses will be moving away from England, as there will likely be more expense and bureaucratic procedures for things like visas.  Therefore, I have moved this part of my business to Ireland, where there is more certainty and is easier, as it remains in the EU.”

Purvika (Niki) Patel

A former colleague of mine, Purvika (Niki) Patel, has been in Spain since 2009, and has just recently married her Spanish husband. She is a primary school English teacher in the outskirts of Madrid. I asked her how she has been preparing for Brexit, and it seems she has followed the same path as several others who I have spoken with:

“Validating my British driving licence to the Spanish one and having to hand in my British licence. I applied for my permanent residency, and I’ve spoken on the phone with the British consulate for advice.”

I asked Niki what were some of the things she mostly felt worried about with regard to how Brexit would affect her life in the future as a British citizen living in Spain.

 “Fears for my husband being able to live in the UK in the future. The doubts I have with regards to having dual-nationality (myself and my future children). I am worried about the cost of travelling and/or needing a visa and having to choose between two nationalities, although I will never give up my British nationality.”

Rosie Hegarty

I reached out to another long-term Liverpudlian in Spain, Rosie Hegarty. Rosie works for a group of companies in the educational sector in Madrid, including TtMadrid TEFL training centre (www.ttmadrid.com) and Spanish academy, LAE Madrid (www.laemadrid.com). The company has decided to reduce their UK investment, and is looking for other markets. I asked Rosie what she has done so far with regard to preparing for Brexit, and just like everyone the drivers licence and NIE were the first on that list. Rosie did mention, “I’ve applied for an Irish passport based on my father being Irish.” So at least she has that going for her, unlike other Brits abroad.

Not preparing for Brexit

I was starting to think that in general most of the people I was speaking with were getting as prepared as possible within the realms and knowledge that they had available. But then one day, while discussing Brexit with some British colleagues based out of the Madrid office I realized that not everyone has been thinking about it as much as others. My colleague Giorgia, who although raised in the UK, has an Italian father and thus legally can apply for the Italian passport didn’t seem too worried. I asked Giorgia what she had been doing to prepare for Brexit and she even told me openly:

 “Not much as I don´t know what is required. I can apply for an Italian passport if necessary. Currently I’m looking into getting an appointment at the Italian embassy.”

I wondered about all of the people living not just in Spain or the EU but in Britain as well as whether those who are able to get dual nationality have it, want it or are considering getting it. I believe that as they think they will have access to either an EU or British passport or both (depending on what passport they currently hold) in the future that they might not be as worried or at least thinking about how this will affect them or their family in the future.

Brexit opinions: The bottom line

The Expat Brexiteer

I did try and find someone who is a British citizen living in Spain who voted for leaving the EU in the original referendum but I haven’t been able to yet within my circle or their circle. I am sure they exist somewhere in Spain. Across the board, the people I have interviewed have all expressed a very similar disgust and anger at what has happened, and how it will affect their lives from now into the future.

Chasing a unicorn

As Rosie said:

“The fact that Brexit happened through promising a ‘unicorn’ that would never be achieved, and now we are seeing the reality of it, is sad for everyone involved. No one will get the Brexit they wanted because the Brexit that was promised is impossible. If people had really done their due diligence on everything that was promised, it was quite clear. For me, Brexit has been mostly a psychological blow to how I viewed my identity as a British person, and how I viewed Britain. I always felt like we had solid political processes and were open-minded. To have grown up with access and easy travel to the whole of Europe, it feels surreal to have to apply to do what I have always had the right to do. Worse, being that we have chosen to do it. The problem is that Brexit is forever and will forever change our relationship with Europe.”

Lies for profit

Matt’s take was:

“I feel though that many politicians have leveraged their careers on both sides for this Brexit debate, which I wholeheartedly feel doesn´t go in any way to serving the people of the country they say they are representing.  Many, many lies were spread in the run-up to the election, and when the vote was official, these lies were proven to be just that. Even so, there is no punishment for those that spread the lies – or the possibility of seeking a second referendum based on more integrity, which I personally feel is disgusting.  Many have said that the country has made a “clear decision” regarding the leaving of the EU, but 2% is not a clear result of anything – let alone causing a history-changing event that could have a knock-on effect that could last for generations.” 

No going back

My colleague Emily even stated:

“Opinions have changed and I’m not convinced the vote would be the same if it were done again, but it won’t be. We are stuck now, and no one, not even the leavers are happy with this deal. Fundamentally, the referendum was badly done and swaps nearly 50% of happy people with 50% of those who aren’t. It didn’t specify what Brexit looked like, so now we have millions of differing ideas of what it should be, and so, we can’t agree on how it is going to look. This is why we are in such a mess now.”

Loss of control

“The damage has already been done, and this isn’t reversible. The UK government haven’t made anything clear, either to UK Businesses and citizens or to us UK nationals living abroad and this uncertainty is what has caused the damage” said Chris Webb. “I can’t use the word ‘worried’ too much because the whole process is out of our hands. There is no point getting stressed about something we have no control over. We have regularised ourselves here so fingers crossed all will be ok.”

At the end of the day, that’s all one can hope for – that all will be okay.

*As of March 1st, 2019, Spain has stated that they will guarantee British residents their rights in event of no-deal Brexit.

**Are you British citizen residing in Spain? How are you preparing for Brexit? What issues are most important to you? Email the editor at joss@veracontent.com to let us know what information you’d like to see on SpainGuru.

*** If you would like legal advice for any reason, you can set up a consultation with SpainGuru’s recommended lawyers.

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Photo by dylan nolte on Unsplash

Buying property in Spain: Becoming a landlord and finding a tenant (part 4)

Welcome to the fourth and final part of my series on making the leap to homeownership in Spain! Make sure to read the previous articles if you haven’t yet:

Congrats if you’ve made it to the stage of becoming a homeowner! Of course people buy property for various reasons, such as to live in it themselves, or as a long-term investment to rent it out.

I was encouraged to invest my savings in property because I felt like it could be a wise long-term investment that I could use in the future when I retire, considering I don’t have a pension or retirement plan (but I could be wrong if something drastic happens to the housing market of course, so it is a gamble!)

I decided to explore options to rent out the flat because believe it or not, with my current rent at a fairly competitive rate plus if I am able to rent out my newly-purchased flat in line with the good market value – I would be able to save some money with the rental earnings versus actually living in the flat myself and paying off the mortgage and bills normally. Although I do have the option to live in the newly purchased flat if needed, which is comforting!

So I started the process to rent out my flat. After renting for various years in a variety of flats, I have done countless interviews at looking to rent flats, as well as interviews for finding flatmates. I’ve also had very bad contracts, or no contracts at all, and I was determined to try to do everything in the most fair and legal way possible.

Is the property suitable for living?

Before you get any further, make sure your property is suitable and safe for living. And if not, make sure you fix it! This is your responsibility as a landlord. I was lucky that my flat was in excellent condition so I didn’t have to do much, but these were the few things that I noticed and fixed beforehand: changed the locks, changed the bathroom sink/cabinet unit, added a shower towel rack, adding door stops throughout the flat, fixed a door that was hard to open, and painted a crack on the wall out in the patio.

Type of arrangement

Do you want your property to be a tourist flat such as an airbnb or a regular rental property? There are of course pros and cons to each of these options.

A tourist flat/airbnb

  • Pro: Could potentially generate a higher amount of income
  • Con: The flat must be furnished (added expense) and it is a job that takes time and money to properly manage the property for tourists/for paying an agency to do so. There are also many rules against these and homeowners’ associations may prohibit this so make sure you check!

Regular rental arrangement

  • Pro: With the right tenants, this could provide safe consistency that generates enough to pay off the mortgage (and a bit extra, hopefully) and provides peace of mind
  • Con: It may be difficult to first find and keep trustworthy tenants. Earnings potential could be less than a tourist flat/airbnb.

I decided to go this route for a regular rental arrangement!

Different ways to rent out the flat

  • Using a rental agency – agencies normally charge at least 1 month rent in exchange for doing interviews and finding a tenant. The flat could be offered furnished or unfurnished
  • Posting on a rental booking platform, such as SpotAHome – which would require making it suitable for immediate entry such as furnishing the flat and equipping it with internet
  • Using a type of agency, such as this one, that rents a furnished and equipped flat from you and uses it to manage other visitors independently, all while paying a monthly rental fee
  • Doing it yourself by creating ads and interviewing tenants, which I explain below

Doing it yourself

The first step is to post an ad on rental sites such as idealista.es, fotocasa.es, pisos.com, enaqluiler.com, yaencontre.com

Tips for creating a good rental posting

  • Accurate information about the size / location / floor / condition and a clear and honest description which highlights the best aspects of the flat.
  • Good photos are very important! Take good clear photos of every part of the property. Do it during the day with natural light, and make sure the space is clean and organized. Make sure the photos are compelling that provide a visual journey to allow people to imagine themselves living at this property

Once you create the rental posting, you can share the link on Facebook groups or other channels.

Interviewing potential tenants

I decided to rent out the flat unfurnished, in the hopes of finding a long-term resident who was able to either furnish the flat with items they already had or were willing to furnish it themselves. In the past, I myself was looking to rent unfurnished flats since I already had my own furniture and I actually found it challenging to find it because many flats already had furniture and many landlords were unwilling to remove the furniture (at least in my experience), so I definitely knew there was a market.

Since mine is a 1-bedroom flat, I knew I preferably wanted 1 individual with a stable income. I would still consider interviewing couples but I knew it would potentially be easier just dealing with one person.

I ended up showing the flat to about 10 different people for over a month. There was some good interest but many of them expressed concerns about the size of the flat (thinking it was too small for them) or they were trying to negotiate for lower rent, but I wanted to stay firm. After a month of searching I was getting increasingly concerned, but fortunately at the end of the month I found a great tenant who is stable and professional!

The main requirement I asked for to prove stability was their last 3 pay stubs to show that they have a stable source of income and that they would be able to afford the rent.

Rental contract

I consulted with a friend who manages some properties, and she used a template from the Comunidad which seemed very fair. See template here as an example. Note that this is shared for informative purposes only. Some things to note: In the 4th clause, it mentions the length of the contract – which in my case I put that it would be for 5 years. In the 5th clause it mentions if the rent would increase, in this case I put that the rent would be fixed for the first 2 years, and starting in the 3rd year it would only increase based on the government’s published inflation index. I encourage landlords to put these type of stable clauses in the contracts to encourage a good relationship with the tenants! These clauses would protect the tenant from huge price changes year after year.

Transferring 1-month of the deposit with IVIMA

As I am determined to be a completely honest and legit landlord, I was advised to transfer the equivalent of 1 month deposit with the Agencia de Vivienda Social (IVIMA) of the Comunidad de Madrid. Find out how to do this here. You can do it all online if you have an electronic signature (firma digital). This is a legal obligation that provides more protection for the tenant, and also allows them to legally declare the money they pay on rent on their tax return. Once the rental contract is over, it is easy to request the return of the deposit back from the Comunidad de Madrid through the same website.

Declaring on your tax return

Earnings from the rental property should be declared on your yearly tax return. Make sure to track all receipts and expenses related to maintaining your property.

Be patient!

Being a landlord may not be easy at first and patience is needed for all steps of the way. In my experience, so far I’ve been relatively lucky as my tenant hasn’t had any complaints and I was smart to make any minor necessary repairs in the property before she moved in. But it’s all a learning process and don’t be afraid to ask your network for help. Good luck!

Also make sure to read Part 1: Introduction to the process, Part 2: Payment options and Part 3: Sealing the deal of my series on buying property in Spain if you haven’t yet!

By Christina Samson, co-founder of SpainGuru

Road trip to the beach

Getting a Valid Spanish Driving License

Driving in Spain can be quite the adventure and getting your Spanish driving license is a whole other type of adventure in and of itself.

Fasten your seatbelt and get ready to ride through some of the essential steps with me.

Step 1 – Understanding Who Can Legally Drive In Spain

Child driving car

The legal driving age in Spain is 18 years old. Those who are under 18 cannot drive legally in Spain, even if they hold a legal license from their home country.

(Sorry young US citizen – you may be able to drive at 16 back home but not here.)

Anyone over the age of 18 who has their own valid national driving license from their home country can continue to drive a car in Spain legally for either the first six months after gaining their official residency (for non-EU/EEA citizens) or for the first two years of residence (for EU/EEA nationals).

After that initial grace period your adventure in Spanish bureaucracy will begin.

Step 2 – Following Your Legal Process According To Your Specific Situation:

If you are an EU/EEA citizen (plus Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein) who is a legal resident in Spain, you’ll have to obtain a Spanish driving license either by exchanging your foreign license or renewing your foreign license.

You can legally drive in Spain using your existing driving license for the first two years of residence in Spain, although – important! – after six months you must register your details with the traffic authorities. You can do this at your Registro Central de Conductores e Infractores of the Provincial Traffic Headquarters (Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico).

Once you’ve registered you’ll need to take a medical examination at a Centro de Reconocimiento de Conductores Autorizado.

You must adhere to the same conditions as Spanish driving license holders. This includes:

Doctor crossing arms
  • Undertaking any necessary/required medical checks.
  • Renewing or exchanging the license after the first two years’ residence in Spain. If an EU license is renewed in Spain it effectively converts it into a Spanish EU license, which then needs to be renewed every 10 years up to the age of 65, and every five years after 65.

If you don’t obtain a Spanish driving license after two years of residency and are caught driving, you can face a fine of approximately €200.

In order to exchange your EU/EEA license to that of a Spanish driving license you’ll need to go to the Provincial Traffic Headquarters. You’ll need to have the following documents with you to be processed:

  • Application form
  • Valid passport or national identity card
  • Proof of residence (Certificate of Registration in the Central Aliens Register, i.e. your NIE number or Número de Identificación de Extranjero or Empadronamiento)
  • Valid driving license to be exchanged in Spain (original and photocopy)
  • Two recent photographs (32x25mm)
  • Declaration in writing that you haven’t been banned or suspended from driving
  • Declaration in writing that you don’t hold another driving license of the same class in another country.

Long story short

Simplify written on ground behind car

In other words, if you are an EU/EEA citizen your process is a lot more simplified and with a lot longer grace period than that of any Non-EU/EEA citizen. Live it up while you can and know that you’re saving a lot of time, money and energy in NOT having to take the Spanish driving test.

***As for any UK citizen who is currently looking for information related to how Brexit could/would affect their Spanish driving license – I would recommend staying up-to-date via the GOV.UK website.

For any Non-EU/EEA citizens (like myself) you’ll need to get your Spanish driving license by either exchanging your foreign license if your country has an agreement with Spain (lucky!) or you’ll be required to take a Spanish driving license test (like myself). This includes the theoretical (written) test and the practical test as well.

It’s not all bad news!

All Non-EU/EEA citizens may legally drive in Spain using your existing foreign driving license for up to six months after you’ve received your residency in Spain. If your foreign license is not in Spanish, you must always carry an official translation or an International Driving Permit (IDP) which is only valid for one year and must be applied for outside of Spain in your home country.

While waiting for your residency to be approved you may legally drive using your existing foreign driving license for up to one year as long as you have your IDP on hand with your legal license from your home country.

So who are some of these lucky 20 some-odd nationalities who can just exchange their license over to a Spanish one?

The lucky countries!

Lucky clover

Citizens of Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Dominical Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Japan, Korea, Macedonia, Morocco, Nicaragua, Peru, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Tunisia, Ukraine, Uruguay and Venezuela

Be sure to always check with your home country’s consulate in Spain or the Spanish traffic authority as agreements between countries are always changing.

Diplomats and international staff can also exchange their license regardless of their nationality – contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for more information.

In general, in order to exchange your Non-EU/EEA license you’ll need the following forms to be processed (*some countries may need extra translations or forms from their consulate/embassy – make sure to always double check):

  • Application form
  • Valid national identity card or passport (original)
  • Residence permit, identity card or foreign passport, along with the Certificate of Registration in the Central Register of Foreigners for EU foreigners or residence permit for non-EU: original effect. Valid residence card.
  • Medical fitness report from a recognized medical center (such as the Authorised Drivers’ Check Centre (Centro de Reconocimiento de Conductores Autorizado)
  • Valid driving license to be exchanged (original and photocopy)
  • Two recent photographs (32x25mm)
  • Declaration in writing that you haven’t been banned or suspended from driving
  • Declaration in writing that you don’t hold another driving license of the same class issued by another EU country.

Once again, your process is a lot more simplified than that of any Non-EU/EEA citizen who’s country doesn’t have an agreement regarding this legal process. Live it up while you can and know that you’re saving a lot of time, money and energy in NOT having to take the Spanish Driving Test.

Alrighty, we have now come to the highlight of this article – The Spanish Driving Test!

Step 3 – The Spanish Driving Test:

It may be frustrating for many Non-EU/EEA citizens having to go through it all again to get a Spanish driving license – if they have a license and experience driving in their home country. It’s even more frustrating when you realize that most Spanish drivers do whatever the hell they want and only follow about 60% of the rules in the written and practical tests.

What’s my advice? Just bite your tongue and push through it and get it done. This is the land of “titulitis” and bureaucracy as well as “no pasa nada.” It is what it is, sadly. But I had a great practical training teacher and am grateful for the training I received from both tests in the end.

I am originally from the US and am sadly from the generation that never learned how to drive a manual car. I am extremely grateful that I not only learned another skill but that I also pushed myself and was able to learn it in Spanish (¡toma ya!).

There are options in Spain – depending on where you live – to get your tests done in English (or a variety of other languages) as well as taking the Practical Test with an Automatic car only.

  • *Note – if you take the exam with an automatic car, you’ll legally only be able to drive an automatic car in Spain.

You must apply to take the tests at the Provincial Traffic Headquarters (Jefatura Provincial de Tráfico)Most people end up going through an Autoescuela (Offical Driving School) who will do all of this for you including signing you up for all of the necessary tests as well as providing you with the necessary supplies which will all be included in whatever price you are estimated to pay in total.

I signed up through my local Autoescuela (shout out to Autoescuela 2000 in San Fernando de Henares & Coslada in Madrid).

I initially decided to try and take the written test in Spanish but since I switched jobs shortly after signing up and started working 40 hours a week in Spanish, my brain was fried by the end of the day and so I decided to take it in English instead.

My Autoescuela didn’t have any classes in English but they were able to request the English language book and test booklet for me from the DGT at no additional cost.

  • *Note: This is available through ANY Autoescuela – as the DGT issues the books to the schools. All you need to do is speak with your local Autoescuela requesting that they order these two books for you in English from the DGT. (See the photo above at the beginning of this article.)
  • *Extra Note: The English in these books is a strange mix of British English and a sort-of literal translation from Spanish. Either way, the questions could be understood and it should be noted to always keep an eye on the prepositions as those are the tricks they use in the Spanish version of the test and they did a similar thing when translating it into English.

My Autoescuela offered unlimited classes in Spanish with a teacher to prep for the written test, included in the initial price that I paid. They also had a simulator of a manual car that I could practice on as much as I needed. They also had an online application with practice tests that I used either there at the school or at home.

I took advantage of all of these resources but in the end for the Written (Teórico) test I primarily just read my English course book as well as going through the questions in the English test booklet and paying close attention to the ones I got incorrect.

One of the best tools that helped me study while on-the-go as well as helping me realize which questions I kept getting wrong were several apps for my phone that I was able to download for free – yes, they even had the questions in English!

Here are a few of the Apps that I used or tested on my phone while studying for my written exam:

  • AeolCloud
  • TodoTest

If you’re looking for an Autoescuela that has both tests and all of the preparatory and driving classes in English – be prepared to pay more for it.

Here is a list of a few of the Autoescuelas that can help you get a Spanish driving license:

What you’ll need to sign up for these tests:

  • A certificate of mental and physical fitness from the Centro de Reconocimiento de Conductores Autorizado
  • An application form
  • Two passport-sized photographs
  • Your residence permit
  • Proof of address in Spain
  • A declaration that there are no suspensions or legal cases preventing you from driving
  • A declaration that you don’t already hold a similar license.

How much does a Spanish driving license cost?

Well, that all depends on:

  1. Where you live
  2. How many times it takes you to pass the written test
  3. How many classes you end up taking through your Autoescuela
  4. And how many times it takes you to pass the practical test
  • *Note – It’s important to understand that you only get one time to fail one of the tests without having to pay an extra fee (tasa) to try again. For example: I didn’t fail my written exam – I passed on my first try so I was then able to take the practical exam at least twice without having to pay an extra fee (tasa) again. I know others who failed their written exam their first time, passed the written exam their second time and then felt a lot of pressure to pass their practical exam on their first time or else they would have to pay this extra fee again.

Here is my personal example:

  • Autoescuela matrícula – €30 
  • Examen teórico – €92
  • Abono 10 classes – €215 (I got 2 of these before my first practical test – so €430 total)
  • 2 classes that were free and included in the price of my matrícula
  • 2 more classes right before the first examen práctico – €43 total (so €21.50 each class)
  • Examen práctico #1 – €123
  • 5 more classes before my second examen práctico – €107.50
  • Examen práctico #2 – €123

My total cost was around €948, including the medical checkup and such it came out to around €1000.

I would estimate that as a general minimum – although I know people who spent only €800 and others who spent close to €1500.

It is all relative to how many classes you and your teacher feel you will need, as well as how you do on your actual exams.

  • *Important – Do not feel rushed at all but there are time limits on how long you can wait between each test. Your written test is valid for up to 2 years from the time you take it – BUT your Practical test scores are only valid up to 6 months.
  • What does this mean? You can take your time after your written test but once you take your first practical test (and if you fail) then you have to keep the momentum up or if you wait longer than 6 months between your next practical test (you guessed it!) you’ll have to pay another fee (tasa).

Here is my personal example:

I signed up in November 2015 but didn’t take the Written test until December 2016.

I started taking my practical classes in spring/summer 2017 and I took my first practical test in October 2017 (which I failed by one mistake! Argh!) and my second and final practical test in December 2017.

In the end – do what works best for you and your personal situation but still be aware of your time limits.

  • *Note – You can (I had to) request a change of teacher if you feel that the teacher doesn’t work for you. I had two initial classes with a teacher but his teaching style just made me nervous and more anxious, so I went and talked with the reception at my Autoescuela and they made the switch. In the end, it’s your time and your money – don’t waste either!

Congratulations! You’ve managed to get a Spanish driving license!

A full driver's license in Spain
image source

Once you pass the practical test, you’ll receive your temporary license until your official one arrives at the Autoescuela and you’ll also get your green L sign/plate to place in the back window of your car. You’ll have to have your green L sign/plate there for 1 year (from the day you passed your test). Some people decide not to do this but it will help you avoid a fee or potential issue – I used mine and had no problem at all. And to be quite honest – it helped keep the crazy Spanish drivers off my tail a bit more while I got used to circulating around this crazy capital. Take advantage of that giant L!

Step 4 – Celebrate!

Whether you only had to do paperwork or you fell under the unlucky category of having to start from scratch and complete both tests from start to finish – you did it!

Now go celebrate your new Spanish driving license by organizing a road trip somewhere off the map and enjoying your newfound freedom. And of course – always drive safely!

By Stacey Taylor, co-founder of SpainGuru

Social media: LinkedIn

Woman looking relieved

Modelo 390: Filing your annual summary of business-related VAT transactions

Here we cover the basics of what you need to know to file your model 390 (or el modelo 390), the annual VAT summary: What is it, who has to file it and when. We’ll also look at an example of how to complete a filing as an autónomo working as a freelance translator.

What is the modelo 390?

The modelo 390 is an informational filing aimed at summarizing all transactions related to VAT collected, deducted and paid by your business during the year. It’s essentially the annual version of the modelo 303, which is filed each quarter.

Please see our previous article about how to fill out the modelo 303. Even though the 390 is only an informative filing and there is no payment involved, it’s required for all Spanish autónomos and small businesses to file its. It’s very important that the 390 matches up with your quarterly 303 filings or it could lead to a tax audit.

Who has to file a modelo 390?

Essentially, it’s anyone who has to file the quarterly 303 VAT filing form. That would be anyone with business activity that requires the collection of VAT. That’s regardless of the type of business or the result of the filing. There are some types of businesses that are exempt from filing.

You should check on the requirements for your particular situation before proceeding. In particular, a new law that came into effect in January 2017, means many large companies no longer need to file the 390 because Hacienda already has access to their “libros de registro del impuesto” (tax record books).

Where and when to file the modelo 390

The most common is to file it online, through the Sede Electronica of Agencia Tributaria using your Clave PIN or digital signature. Alternatively, it can also be done by mail. The time frame for submitting modelo 390 is between January 1st and 30th of the following financial year.

How to file your modelo 390 as an autónomo working as a freelance translator

Man holding angle grinder

As my business activity is translation, and I also work with many freelancers in this sector, I will take you step by step how I fill out the 390. Please keep in mind that depending on your type of business and sources of income, you’ll likely need to fill out these forms differently.

But this should give you an idea of the steps involved.

  1. Sign in to the Sede Electronica of the Agencia Tributaria using your Clave Pin or electronic signature.
  2. Go to: Impuestos y tasas> IVA
  3. Click on Modelo 390. IVA. Declaración Resumen Anual from the list
  4. Click on the “@” sign under “Trámites”
  5. Go to “Presentación ejercicio [YEAR]”
    Click on the yellow “@” sign to use your Clave PIN to fill out the form
  6. “Aceptar” the pop up (of course, if any of the situations it mentions apply to you, you wouldn’t need to do the next steps).
  • On page 1, say NO next to the three questions at the bottom regarding bankruptcy (unless you filed for bankruptcy this year)
Modelo 390 on hacienda website
  • On page 2, under B Clave, click the little pencil. Click the radio button next to where it says “Actividades Profesionales sujetas al I.A.E.” and *then* select actividad profesional number 774 (if your activities fall under translation and interpretation).
  • On page 4: in [05], put the total amount you earned that whole year before taxes. {This is assuming you are in the translation and interpretation category, where the applicable VAT percentage is 21%). Here’s an example based on someone who earned 1000 euros per month (12,000 euros for the year) and who charged clients 21% VAT on top of that:
  • On page 5: on [605], this is where you put the *expenses* on which you deducted IVA.  In theory you should separate your expenses by which VAT percentage was applied. But if you don’t have that level of detail.. it seems to work to just put the total of all your expenses for the whole year in the 21% line, and then manually put in the actually amount of VAT you deducted during the whole year.
  • On page 11, click [95] and fill out the total IVA you paid for each quarter (amount owed (from page 4), minus deductions (from page 5). It’s important that these amounts match the results of your quarterly filings, or else you’ll get an error.

The amounts should be input in March, June, September and December only, and correspond with the resulting IVA owed (and paid) at the end of each quarter. Make sure that these amounts match up with your 303 forms filed at the end of each quarter. Again, if they don’t, it could create a red flag and lead to an audit.

Again, please note that  this is only a guide based on the typical autónomo we work with at VeraContent who exclusively works as a freelance translator and has no other sources of income they need to claim.  If you had any other source of income during the year, you may need to fill out some of the other pages.

I hope this was helpful in understanding the modelo 390. Note I am not a tax professional and you should follow my advice at your own risk! Any mistakes on your tax form could lead to an audit and potentially significant fines. Please do your own research on tax requirements for your type of business. Good luck!

By Shaheen Samavati, co-founder of VeraContent & SpainGuru

Need help filing your taxes in Spain? We work with a trusted law firm, Goy Gentile Lawyers. You can make a consultation here.

Also read our guides on:

My Spain Story: Katie McEwen, transitioning from Auxiliar to full-time English teacher through student visa modification

Katie McEwen arrived in Spain in 2014 as an auxiliar de conversación, then went through the visa modification process to get a work permit, and landed a job as a full-time English teacher at a private school. We asked her a few questions about her experience!

Expat: Katie McEwen (US)

  • Current city: Madrid
  • Arrived in: 2014
  • Initial visa type: Student Visa through the CIEE program
  • Current visa type: Work Visa and residency

How long did it take you to go through the process to get a work permit?

From start to finish, including research, probably 1 year. I started to talk about and research my options in November. I then didn’t make an appointment until around May the following year which was very late. I ended up making an appointment for June, LUCKILY, and actually had organized all of my paperwork for the wrong process (arraigo social but I hadn’t been in Spain for 3 years yet).

So, in June I made another appointment for July and was able to go for a student visa modification because this process has a grace period of 90 days. After my appointment in July, I received my approval October 29th and then finally got my card, after another mishap in Aluche, in February.  

How many different visa/permit processes have you gone through in Spain? (Tourist, Student, Work Permit, Pareja de Hecho, Marriage, Nationality)

I have had two visas, Student and Working por cuenta ajena (contract).

What process (if you have done several processes) was the easiest and/or the most difficult to go through?

Student Visa Modification was more challenging than any student visa process. It requires many more documents and a much longer waiting period. All papers are submitted and for 3 months you basically just have to wait. Furthermore, it’s easy to confuse student visa modification and arraigo social because they are very similar processes.

Also read: What is the difference between student visa modification and arraigo social

What is something you regret about your whole legal process for Spain? Anything you wish you would have done differently?

I wish I had arrived in Spain earlier my first year so I could have more easily done Arraigo Social and applied for teaching jobs with my paperwork at a time more appropriate to the school year.

How much longer do you see yourself in Spain?

I’m thinking of moving back home next year. But, it depends on a lot of things.

How does Spain compare to your home country? Why do you prefer living here?

Spain is very different in many ways. I love the way of life here, it’s slower. But also at times that drives me insane as well. As the years have passed, I’ve grown to love and hate many aspects as one does while living anywhere. I enjoy the life I’ve been able to build here. But I do miss my family a lot as the years go by.  

What is your current profession in Spain?

I’m currently a full-time English teacher at a Private School in Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid). I have an indefinite contract.

What have been your past professions in Spain and for how long?

I was an Auxiliar for two years, then a teacher with a 25-hour week contract on a student visa in a Colegio Concertado (Charter School) through the program MEDDEAS and then a full-time contracted teacher at a different private school where I currently work. Again, now I’m a full-time contracted teacher at my current private school in Pozuelo.

As you’ve been an Auxiliar de Conversación here in Spain, could you briefly describe your experience working for the various programs? Which programs have you participated in? Which Comunidades did you work in? Which program did you prefer and why?

I’ve only lived and taught in Madrid. I did the Auxiliar program for two years in a public Secondary school in Boadilla del Monte (Madrid). It was a fun, relaxing experience. However, by the end of my second year I didn’t want to be an auxiliar or assistant anymore.

I’m a trained and certified teacher in the United States so being an assistant or having people assume I was just a native speaker attempting teaching or even lower expectations was something that drove me insane. I wanted to continue my teaching career, not be an assistant anymore.

As an auxiliar, or assistant, you teach lessons and can be as proactive as you want about your participation in the classroom but you don’t have the normal responsibilities as a teacher. You’re able to come and leave school more freely. You aren’t required to create or mark assessments. You don’t have duties in the school or meetings with staff and parents. So, it’s just the bare minimum of teaching. You don’t even start on the first day of school, so it wasn’t a satisfying position for me.

Is there any advice you would like to give to anyone trying to “make it work” as an Auxiliar?

Though at times the work can be mundane or you aren’t being used to your fullest potential, keep with it. Be proactive and if you want to practice more or improve as an educator, it’s on you to do it. If you’re just doing the Auxiliar program to stay in Spain, enjoy it! They are short work weeks and very high, untaxed pay compared to teaching full time at private schools.

How easy or difficult has it been for you in Spain to find a job? (Especially in a country with such high unemployment)

Being a native English speaker can get you a lot of teaching jobs, especially in academies or as assistant teachers. As I stated, teaching is my profession of choice and what I studied and trained in, so I was looking for more than that and was also more qualified for many of those positions.

To finally find a satisfying job as an English teacher in Spain, it took me 2-3 years but mostly due to hold ups with paperwork. I was offered a position my second year that was ideal for me and exactly what I wanted but due to the fact that I couldn’t get working permission, I couldn’t take it.

After my third school year, I was offered similar positions but couldn’t take them due to paperwork again. So, actually getting the job can be challenging due to paperwork even though there are many opportunities out there. Not many companies or schools want to help with the process of getting a work permit.

What have you found to be the most challenging aspects about living abroad in Spain – personally, professionally and culturally speaking?

Personally, I really miss my family now that I’ve been away for so long. Though I’m able to see them 2-3 times a year, I come from a very close family and I miss seeing them more often throughout the year.

Professionally, the challenge of paperwork and being offered jobs then having the offer rescinded due to paperwork was extremely frustrating. Also, it kind of feels like the process is never ending.

Culturally, I love feeling relaxed and laid back but sometimes the lack of urgency drives me insane.

Any future goals for your life here in Spain both personally and professionally?

I would like to begin to enjoy the city more like I did when I first arrived. I definitely got brought down by the paperwork and road blocks I kept hitting due to it and stopped enjoying the city and Europe as much as I used to. Professionally, I would like to continue growing and moving up at the International school I am at.

Have you ever considered going back to your home country/or to another country? Is it still on the drawing board or are you only focused on staying in Spain? Why or Why not?

I‘m truly considering moving back to the US in the next year or so. I would like to be closer to my family again and I feel as an educator that I’ll be able to grow more professionally in the USA than here in Spain.

Any tips for those still deciding whether to stay long term to live in Spain?

My tip is that it’s something that you really need to commit to and focus on. Planning is important and always plan for the worst; you should also have a plan B but also be pleasantly surprised if you don’t need it.

Don’t lose sight of why you love Spain and don’t be brought down by rejection. It will happen and it’s not due to personal reasons but probably due to paperwork and someone else who already has paperwork being easier for them to hire.

What’s your Spain story? Why’d you move here?

Residency experiences in Spain can feel like a roller-coaster journey – we know, we remember those frustrating days. That’s why in this SpainGuru blog series, we’ve interviewed successful expats so they can share a more personal side of their residency experience.

We hope this series helps guide those who have some of the same questions and are in the same spot as we were once in our residency decision/process in Spain.

If you’re looking to speak with an immigration lawyer to help sort out your paperwork, we work with two specialized law firms: Sterna Abogados and Goyle Gentile Lawers

If you would also like to share your personal residency experience on SpainGuru, please send your responses to hello@spainguru.es along with:

  • any social media accounts or blog/website links you wish to include promoting yourself or your business
  • 1-3 photos of yourself (it is up to you but we would like at least 1)

Thanks so much!

Shaheen, Stacey and Tina

 

My Spain Story: Meredith Miller, 7 Years Working as an Auxiliar de Conversación in 3 Different Programs

Residency experiences in Spain can feel like a roller-coaster journey – we know, we remember those frustrating days. That’s why in this SpainGuru blog series, we’ve interviewed successful expats so they can share a more personal side of their residency experience.

We hope this series helps guide those who have some of the same questions and are in the same spot as we were once in our residency decision/process in Spain.

Expat: Meredith Miller (US)

Where do you currently live in Spain?

I live in a southern neighborhood of Madrid, the beautiful Vallecas.

Have you lived in any other cities/regions/Comunidades in Spain?

No, I’ve only lived in Madrid – in different parts of the city, but always in Madrid.

What year did you arrive in Spain?

I came to Spain in September of 2011.

What kind of visa or permit did you initially come to Spain with?

Initially, I came with a student visa to work with the Ministerio as an Auxiliar de Conversación.

What kind of permit or visa do you currently have?

I have residency. My TIE labels me as part of the “regimen comunitario”. I have residency as a “familiar ciudadano de la unión” because of my civil union (pareja de hecho) with my boyfriend.

How long did it take you to go through that process?

I went through the process of getting residency almost 4 years ago, so I’ve honestly forgotten many of the specifics. I do remember a lot of tedious things to gather and a lot of paperwork. In total, I think the whole thing must have taken about a year. First, I had to get the “pareja de hecho” done. I had been warned the wait for that appointment could be up to a year but it ended up being about six months. After I had that, I began to submit paperwork and go to the appointments for turning it into my legal residency that I have today. That took me another 5 or 6 months to complete.

How many different visa/permit processes have you gone through in Spain? (Tourist, Student, Work Permit, Pareja de Hecho, Marriage, Nationality)

I’ve gone through two processes in my time here. As I mentioned, I came with a student visa but now I have residency which I was able to get through a Pareja de Hecho with my boyfriend.

What process (if you’ve done several processes) was the easiest and/or the most difficult to go through?

I am not good at maneuvering Spain’s bureaucracy, so all of the processes were daunting for me. In my seven years here, I’ve had two visas: student and resident (due to Pareja de Hecho). The student visa was a hassle because I had to renew it once every year and be “en trámite” for 2 or 3 months while my TIE was renewed. I always dreaded going to Aluche and waiting for hours! Later, the paperwork seemed overwhelming for pareja de hecho but it will last me five years before I have to renew so it was definitely worth it!

What is something you regret about your whole legal process for Spain? Anything you wish you would have done differently?

As I was able to get both my student visa and work residency through Pareja de Hecho there isn’t much I regret. I think I should have had a bit more patience and faith in the process. Eventually it will work out!

How much longer do you see yourself in Spain?

It’s always hard for me to say forever, but I see myself in Spain for the foreseeable future.

How does Spain compare to your home country? Why do you prefer living here?

As an American, I absolutely prefer the health care system here and an overall quality of life that feels more relaxed than life in the US. I think the Spanish are better at enjoying free time, vacations, and weekends more than the average American. My priorities have changed here.

What is your current profession in Spain?

I am an Auxiliar de Conversación with the BEDA program.

What have been your past professions in Spain and for how long?

I have been working as an Auxiliar de Conversación for the past 7 years but I’ve always supplemented that with private English classes and more recently giving food tours with DEVOUR Food Tours. The private English classes have been a great source of cash for me over the years and I think that’s why most Auxiliares do them.

I also worked briefly for an academy but I preferred giving the classes on my own terms and making more money per hour as well. DEVOUR has been a nice change for me more recently. It’s a seasonal job and I don’t depend on it year-round for money but during the high tourist seasons it’s great. I’ve also enjoyed the change from working mostly with kids as I do at the schools to mostly working with adults.

As you’ve been an Auxiliar de Conversación here in Spain, could you briefly describe your experience working for the various programs? Which programs have you participated in? In which Communidades did you work in? Which program did you prefer and why?

Over my seven years here in Spain I’ve worked for three different Auxiliar de Conversación programs: the Ministerio de Educacion, UCETAM, and BEDA. The job with the Ministerio was what brought me over to Spain in the first place. I worked in a public school in Valdemoro, just south of Madrid, for two years. My third year I was placed in a school in Cantabria but declined that offer and instead joined the UCETAM program.

UCETAM is similar to the Ministerio program but partners with concertados (charter schools) instead of public schools. After the max of two years with UCETAM I switched to BEDA which also places assistants in concertados. My experience in all three programs has been similar. I think the biggest factor in determining your experience working as an Auxiliar in Spain is your individual school placement and not the program that you choose to work with.

Though of course there are some differences between the three programs (and I would say my preference was UCETAM mostly because the pay was the best), I also felt I had more responsibilities in and out of the classroom with UCETAM. Often, I was in the position to be planning and leading the class, which might explain the higher pay.

I felt more like an assistant during my time with the Ministerio and BEDA. But as I said before, so much depends on the school you’re placed in and every teacher is different as well. Sometimes in a classroom I felt taken advantage of and sometimes I felt useless. But if your goal is to live and teach in Spain, any of the three programs is a decent way to do just that.

Is there any advice you would like to give to anyone trying to “make it work” as an Auxiliar?

Financially speaking, in order to make it as an Auxiliar I would say plan to take on a side job – anything that you like or have time to do. Because of the students you meet at school it’s always easy to give private English classes and I think that’s the most common thing people do. I give my private classes in person but I’ve been hearing more and more about people giving their classes through online academies, especially out of China.

As for the actual job itself, your experience depends more on the school you’re placed in than the program you’re working with. Go to your schools prepared but flexible. You don’t need a degree in teaching or even any experience doing it. It’s just important that you enjoy working with kids and teens and you’ll be fine.

What have you found to be the most challenging aspects about living abroad in Spain – personally, professionally and culturally speaking?

The most challenging aspect of living in Spain is missing out on time with family and friends back in the US. Personally, that is hard on me and I think one of the hardest parts of life for anyone far from home. Professionally, I had very little direction when I came to Spain as an Auxiliar. I’ve enjoyed teaching, but I don’t have a teaching degree and I’ve felt that there aren’t as many work opportunities for me here as there would be in the US. Culturally, I enjoy most parts of my life here in Spain.

Any future goals for your life here in Spain both personally and professionally?

I’m probably in a crossroads in my life professionally at the moment. My time at BEDA is coming to an end after four years and I need to figure out what’s next. I’m considering going back to school at the moment or even trying out something other than teaching.

Have you ever considered going back to your home country/or to another country? Is it still on the drawing board or are you only focused on staying in Spain? Why or Why not?

I’ve considered going back to the US. I think it must cross everyone’s mind at some point. I could still see myself back in the US in a distant future. I think if my job options were better here I would be more certain about staying. Also, having a Spanish partner is now a big factor as to why I am here.

Any tips for those still deciding whether to stay long term to live in Spain?

I think Spain has a wonderful quality of life and could be an excellent choice for making a life. But it’s such a personal decision to make; I’m not sure what tip I could give. But I do strongly feel if Spain becomes your life plan, having a good speaking level and understanding of Spanish is essential. Even if you didn’t come to Spain with that, I think being able to communicate comfortably here will add a lot to your quality of life.

What’s your Spain story? Why’d you move here?

If you would also like to share your personal residency experience on SpainGuru, please send your responses to hello@spainguru.es along with:

  • any social media accounts or blog/website links you wish to include promoting yourself or your business
  • 1-3 photos of yourself (it is up to you but we would like at least 1)

Thanks so much!

Shaheen, Stacey and Tina

How to declare VAT as an “autónoma” (freelancer) in Spain

I am no expert on Spanish taxes. However, I’ve been filing my own taxes as autónoma for awhile now, for better or for worse, and I thought I would document how I do quarterly VAT filings in case it might help others.

VAT stands for “value added tax.” It is known as “IVA” in Spain, which stands for “impuesto al valor agregado.” It is essentially a sales tax, and I’ll refer to it as such in this article.

Here I’ll explain how I fill out my quarterly VAT declaration, known as the form 303, as an autónoma (freelance worker).

If you have any suggestions or notice any mistakes in the way I am filing things, I would love to know! Please comment below, or write to us at hello@spainguru.es

Whenever you issue an invoice to a client, you have to also charge the corresponding sales tax (VAT). But, that money doesn’t belong to you. You have to hand it over to the government once every quarter. However, you are allowed to keep some of it, by demonstrating qualifying business expenses where you already paid sales tax. Sales tax paid on business purchases can be deducted from VAT owed.

The purpose of this filing is to report how much sales tax (VAT) you’ve collected from your clients during the quarter and need to return to the government (or not). So, for this filing you just need to add up how much you owe and subtract how much you paid as part of your expenses.

It has to be filed within the first 20-ish days after the end of each three-month period. For example, the first quarter ends at the end of March, so the filing for Q1 needs to be done at the beginning of April. If you don’t file during this period you will pay hefty fines, so make sure to file on time every time!

Note that in addition to the quarterly 303 filing: 

  • Everyone in Spain needs to file their annual “declaración de la renta” once per year between April and June (check out our previous article on that). This is especially crucial to do on time for autónomos because it’s our chance to claim all of our business expenses (whether or not they included VAT) and deduct them from our taxable income.
  • Optionally, you can also do a quarterly IRPF filing in order to get your money back from your IRPF retention sooner (or go ahead and pay what you owe without building it up until the end of the year.).

This article won’t go into any of that. We’re just going to focus on the form 303, which is what every autónomo must file every single quarter.

WARNING: This is how I file my 303 which may or may not be correct, and your situation could be different than mine and require extra or different steps. Please do your own research on your tax obligations and do NOT blindly follow these steps! If you make a mistake on your tax filings it could be expensive for you. You’ve been warned.

That said, here are the steps I follow:

Step 1.  Getting my numbers together.

The first thing is just compiling all of my income and expense information for the quarter. I use a Google sheet like THIS ONE.

“Income” tab:  I input the totals from my outbound invoices on the first tab, and the values I put in the grey column auto-populate the other columns. I make sure the figures match what are on my invoices. That way when I’m filling out the 303 online, I have all the figures I need handy without having to refer to the individual invoices.

“Expenses” tab: I download all my bank transactions from the quarter and copy and paste them into this tab. (If there are any bank transactions that are not business expenses, I delete them). You should adjust the columns in your spreadsheet to match the format that your bank transactions export into. Create your own template to make it as easy as possible to copy everything over each quarter.

I then categorize each expense and add the VAT rate if it applies. All I need for the 303 form is the grand total of VAT paid during the quarter.  

I still keep all other expenses here to use for my IRPF filings later, but I sort the items by “VAT amount” and only include those that had VAT for the purpose of the 303 filing.

Step 2. Fill out the 303 form online.

This is actually the easy part, as long as you know how to navigate the Agencia Tributaria online platform.

  1. Sign in to the Sede Electronica.
  2. Go to: Impuestos y tasas> IVA > Modelo 303. IVA. Autoliquidación
  3. Click on the “@” sign under “Tramites”
  4. Go to “Presentación ejercicio [YEAR]”
  5. Click on the yellow “@” sign to use your Clave PIN to fill out the form

Fill out your NIE and Name, then – if you’re like me – say “NO” to everything except for “Tributa exclusivamente en régimen general?”

On the next page, put your total income (the total of all of your invoices, before IVA) in the row that corresponds to the amount of VAT you need to pay in your industry. In my case it’s 21%. It will automatically calculate the IVA. Make sure it corresponds to what it says on your spreadsheet.

Then in the next section, that’s where you’ll put your expenses that include VAT.

  • I always put everything under “Por cuotas soportadas en operaciones interiores corrientes”
  • Under “base” I put the total amount of my relevant expenses that included VAT.
  • Under “cuota” I put the total amount of VAT that I’ve calculated (even though it may have been at different rates depending on the type of expense. Food and transportation is only 10%, for example, while office supplies are 21%).

Step 3: Select your payment option

In my case, the second page of the 303 is not relevant. So.. that takes me straight on to page 3: payment. On the third page you need to say how you’re going to pay. If you owe money (which I always do) your two options are basically “ingresar” (pay it all now) or “aplazar” (make payments over time).

If you ingresar, you can click on “obtener NRC” and that will take you to the page to pay. Once you input your bank account info and pay, the NRC field will get automatically filled out.

If you “aplazar” you will be taken to a page where it asks you to give an explanation for why you want to aplazar. You can put anything there, I don’t think they read it. (I have put “tengo facturas pendientes de cobrar” and that worked).

You will also need to put the number of payments you want to split it into and choose a date in the future for the payments to start. If this date is too far in the future, they will likely not grant you the date you request. (Note: I did not “aplazar” at the time I made these instructions, so I was not able to document each detailed step.)

Step 4: File!

When all this is done, you’ll say “OK” or “Next” or whatever and be taken back to the form 303. You may want to look over everything one more time before the next step, because there’s no going back. If everything looks good, then you can go to the upper right and click on “Firmar y enviar”.

You’ll need to click a box saying you agree and then send it off. That’s it!

Again, make sure to always get this done before the tax filing deadline, or you will have to pay hefty fines!

I hope this was helpful. Good luck with your filing!

By Shaheen Samavati, co-founder of VeraContent & SpainGuru

Need help filing your taxes in Spain? We work with a trusted law firm, Goy Gentile Lawyers. You can make a consultation here.

Also read our guides on:

My Spain Story: Christina Stathopoulos, from Business English Specialist to Analytical Consultant at Google Spain

Residency experiences in Spain can feel like a roller-coaster journey – we know, we remember those frustrating days. That’s why in this SpainGuru blog series, we’ve interviewed successful expats so they can share a more personal side of their residency experience.

We hope this series helps guide those who have some of the same questions and are in the same spot as we were once in our residency decision/process in Spain.

Expat: Christina Stathopoulos

Where do you currently live in Spain?

I currently live in Madrid.

Have you lived in any other cities/regions/Comunidades in Spain?

Nope, I have only lived in Madrid during my time here. I have, of course, taken advantage to travel all over Spain though and see all of the other beautiful sights the country has to offer!

What year did you arrive in Spain?

I arrived here in the summer of 2012, where I originally started out living in Tres Cantos and shortly after moved into the center of the city, which I much prefer (I love the bustling life of big cities).

What kind of visa or permit did you initially come to Spain with?

I initially came here on a Student VISA, studying Spanish. It also allowed me to legally work up to 20 hours a week.

What kind of permit or visa do you currently have?

I now have Permanent Residency and a NIE. I will be eligible for nationality in a few years if I so choose.

How long did it take you to go through that process?

Between all 3 processes that I have done, I would estimate that it has accumulated into 1-2 years of work and quite a lot of investment on my part in paperwork, background checks, having to call out of work for VISA appointments, and so forth.

How many different visa/permit processes have you gone through in Spain? (Tourist, Student, Work Permit, Pareja de Hecho, Marriage, Nationality)

I have been through 3 processes in total: Student VISA –> Pareja de Hecho –> Permanent Resident.

What process (if you have done several processes) was the easiest and/or the most difficult to go through?

In my experience, the Student VISA was the most difficult because it has to be started in your home country (the USA in my case) and I had to travel from my hometown in North Carolina to Washington, DC for VISA paperwork and pickup at the Spanish Embassy.

Then, upon arrival in Spain, I had to go through many more processes and it was complicated because I did not speak Spanish at the time. Workers at the VISA processing center here in Madrid didn’t speak English at all and were not helpful or open to working with me on the process. I had to return several times because of problems in paperwork and the bureaucratic processes were unclear and complicated from the start.

The easiest process was changing my Pareja de Hecho VISA to my own Permanent Residency, which required minimal paperwork and a single appointment at one of the government processing centers for foreigners (and it helped that I finally spoke Spanish by this time!).

What is something you regret about your whole legal process for Spain? Anything you wish you would have done differently?

I just wish I spoke better Spanish at the start so the process could have gone smoother. Now I am fluent, but it took years to get to this point when starting from nothing.

How much longer do you see yourself in Spain?

I see myself living here for a few more years before returning to my home country.

How does Spain compare to your home country? Why do you prefer living here?

I prefer living here for the time being. From the beginning of my adventure abroad, I wanted to experience life in another country, learn a new language, immerse myself in an unfamiliar culture and, most importantly for me, travel the world. In my opinion, Madrid is a strategic spot for traveling, offering an easy and affordable base to reach many destinations. Couple that with the fact that, by law, Spanish companies are required to give at least a month of paid vacation every year to full-time employees and it is no surprise that I’ve taken advantage to the utmost and traveled through 45 countries in the past 6 years. Besides that, I would not necessarily say life is ‘easier’ or ‘better’ here compared to my home country, it is just different.

What is your current profession in Spain?

I am currently working full-time as an Analytical Consultant at Google Spain and teaching on the side as an Associate Professor of Analytics at IE Business School.

What have been your past professions in Spain and for how long?

Upon arrival, I could not get a decent job in my field (Statistics) because of my inability to speak Spanish and my inexperience in my field. Thus, I found my niche and I started as a Freelance Business English Teacher / Consultant, focused on English coaching, presentation preparation, job interview skills, etc. with top executives, while studying Spanish on the side. I did this for 3 years, gradually improving my Spanish, and finally decided it was time to pursue my passion here.

I completed a Master in Business Analytics and Big Data at IE Business School and a graduate internship as an Associate Systems Engineer at SAS Institute. I then worked at Nielsen (American market research firm) as an Expert Engineer in Project Development and Big Data for 14 months. In the end, I landed my current (dream) job at Google Spain working as an Analytical Consultant for some of our top international clients. I’ve been working here for almost a year now.

How easy or difficult has it been for you in Spain to find a job? 

I have to admit, the first years here were a struggle. It was frustrating that I could not get a job in my field, but I accepted the fact that language is a typical barrier and I needed to overcome it to be able to pursue a solid career. Once I became fairly fluent in Spanish and completed my Masters in a field with a lot of demand, and then paired that with the fact that I am a native English speaker, it has been really easy to find a job. It is true that unemployment is a huge problem in Spain, so it is best to specialize in something with high demand and become bilingual to land a proper job. I am also a strong believer in continuous learning and strong networking. If you dedicate some of your time each week to those last 2 points, you are certain to succeed even in a complicated economic situation like that of Spain.

Any future goals for your life here in Spain both personally and professionally?

Personally, I would like to keep improving my Spanish and eventually start classes to learn another language. Professionally, I would like to keep advancing my expertise in analytics and improving my public speaking skills. I regularly speak in technology-related events, but I would like to do it even more and extend my involvement in promoting women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Any tips for those still deciding whether to stay long term to live in Spain?

First of all, learn Spanish! It helps immensely. The local English level here is low compared to the rest of Europe and speaking Spanish makes life so much easier, not to mention it opens many doors for job opportunities. Secondly, to combat the high unemployment here, find a niche to specialize in with high demand and also learn how to properly sell your native English speaking skills (this is very useful and needed in international corporations regardless of your field of work).

By Christina Stathopoulos

  • LINKEDIN / TWITTER & INSTAGRAM: @christinaxfaye

Christina Stathopoulos is originally from the US but has been based in Madrid for the past 6 years. She holds a Master of Science in Business Analytics and Big Data from IE Business School and a Bachelor of Science from North Carolina State University, her home state. She has followed quite an unusual professional trajectory here as an Expat, starting out as a Business English specialist for top executives and later pursuing her passion in analytics. She is currently working as an Analytical Consultant at Google Spain and teaching as an Associate Professor of Analytics at IE Business School. Alongside her corporate and academic work, she is a regular conference attendee and speaker supporting women in STEM and emerging technologies.

What’s your Spain story? Why’d you move here?

If you would also like to share your personal residency experience on SpainGuru, please send your responses to hello@spainguru.es along with:

  • any social media accounts or blog/website links you wish to include promoting yourself or your business
  • 1-3 photos of yourself (it is up to you but we would like at least 1)

Thanks so much!

Shaheen, Stacey and Tina

Spanish tax residents: An expert’s guide to filing taxes in Spain

When you move to Spain and become a Spanish tax resident (or have income in Spain), you’re subject to Spanish taxes.

If you’re a tax resident of Spain then you’ll be liable for income tax and capital gains tax on your worldwide income and gains, and wealth tax on your worldwide assets.

Below we’ll describe the basic concepts you should be aware of in order to ensure compliance with Spanish tax obligations and avoid any issues and fines that could cost you time and money.

Tax fines and liability are high and severe in Spain, so it’s essential to know and comply with your tax obligations.

Woman biting pencil

Am I a Spanish tax resident?

You’ll become a Spanish tax resident under Spanish internal legislation if you meet any of the following conditions:

  1. More than 183 days are spent in Spain in a one calendar year. These days don’t have to be consecutive. You become resident irrelevant if you take out a formal residence permit and whether you’re registered for tax purpose in Spain. Temporary absences from Spain can’t be subtracted unless it can be proven that the individual is a habitual resident in another country for more than 183 days in a calendar year. Days of arrival and days of departure do count as days of presence in Spain.
  2. Spain represents you “center of economic interests” (i.e. if you have your main source of income and assets in Spain, i.e. your business in Spain or your professional or economic activities are in Spain).
  3. Your “center of vital interest” is in Spain (i.e. if your spouse, not legally separated) and your dependent minor children live in Spain. In this case, you are presumed to be a Spanish resident, even though you may spend less than 183 days per year in Spain.

Check out our easy flow chart to determine if you’re a Spanish tax resident:

Chart to determine if you're a Spanish tax resident

*For this purpose, temporary absences from Spain are ignored unless you can prove your tax residence in a different country (excluding tax havens)

When does the tax year start and end?

The tax year is the same as the calendar year in Spain, i.e. from January 1 to December 31.

What are my tax obligations if I am a Spanish tax resident?

If you’re a tax resident in Spain, you’re liable for taxes on your world income and you must inform the Spanish Tax Authorities of the assets that you have abroad.

2.1. Personal Income Tax (IRPF, Impuesto sobre la Renta de Personas Físicas)

In Spain, income is split into general income (renta general) and savings income (renta del ahorro). Savings income includes capital gains. After being calculated per the rules for each income within each category, the total of general and savings income is termed the gross taxable base (base imponible). After any deductions and allowances it is then known as the net taxable base (base liquidable).

Spanish residents are taxed on their worldwide “general” income at progressive scale rates. The income tax scale rates are made up of the “National tax rates” and the “Community tax rates” (which are set independently by each Autonomous Community).

Generally, the top combined rate of tax is 45% but can be higher in some Communities (i.e. Andalucía) if they have increased the regional tax rates applying in that region, and many regions have done so.

Anything not categorized as “savings income” is included as “general income, including all earned income (i.e. salary, self-employment and pension income), rental income, any imputed income and gains not made on the sale/transfer of assets such as from gambling for example.

Tools on a desk

Tax Rate on General Income (from Madrid)

Tax Rate on Savings Income

The worldwide savings income of residents in Spain are taxed progressively at the following rates:

Savings income consists of:

  • Dividends
  • Interests
  • Income derived from life assurance contracts
  • Purchased annuity income
  • Capital gains on the sale/transfer of assets

Exemption for income earned abroad: there is an exemption of up to 60,100€ per year for salary income earned by workers who work abroad, but remain tax residents in Spain (provided certain requirements are met).

Special tax regime for expats coming to work to Spain: this special and extremely beneficial tax regime is commonly known as the “Beckham law.” Through this optional tax regime a non Spanish tax resident who moves to Spain as a consequence of an employment contract, can apply a 24% tax rate, be taxed only on Spanish source income (i.e. be treated as a non Spanish tax resident) and be exempt of Model 720 (provided certain requirements are met).

2.2. Model 720 (Modelo 720)

The Model 720 is a merely informative filing but its content is of special interest for the Spanish Tax Authorities to exhaustively control taxpayers’ assets and their variations. In fact, its oversight is considered a priority in the Spanish Tax Authorities’ control plan.

You are subject to Model 720 if you’re a Spanish tax resident in Spain and the owner, titleholder, representative, authorized person, beneficiary, or have disposal powers of assets located outside of Spain worth more than €50,000 (see assets below), and must report the value of these assets.

There are three main groups of assets that must be declared if the total joint value of the group exceeds 50,000 euros:

  1. Funds in accounts in financial institutions abroad: such funds can be held through the figure of the owner, co-owner, representative, authorized or beneficiary. The valuation of the funds should be the highest of (i) the balance at December 31, or (ii) the average balances at the closing of each quarter.
  2. Securities, rights, insurance and income deposited, managed or earned abroad. Life insurance policies and temporary or lifetime income generated from lending money, rights or other assets to foreign entities are included, while pension plans and stock options are excluded.
  3. Real estate and rights over real estate located abroad.

It is worth noting that once the limit of 50,000 euros is surpassed for a group, all assets in such group need to be declared regardless if each asset doesn’t individually pass the limit. Additionally, the obligation to report exists where the specific asset(s) are over 50,000 euros regardless of how many holders/owners there are of a particular asset(s). Each holder/owner should declare the total balance/value (not the pro-rated), indicating the percentage held/owned.

The reporting period is between January 1 and March 31 of each calendar year, with respect to assets held as of 31 December of the previous year.

Woman pointing up

What are my tax obligations if I am a non-Spanish tax resident?

Non-Spanish tax residents pay taxes only on Spanish source income and capital gains at the flat rate of 19% (subject to double tax treaty provisions) if they are residents in a EU/EEA country. If they’re a resident in another country, the tax rate applied is 24% or 19% depending on the type of income. EU/EEA residents may also be able to deduct certain expenses not available to non-EU residents (i.e. when calculating net rental income on properties held in Spain.)

Depending on the assets or income derived from Spain, non-Spanish tax residents must appoint a Spanish tax resident individual or legal entity as their tax representative.

The reporting period depends on the type of Spanish source income:
  1. For owning real estate in Spain (imputación de renta): the year after titleship.
  2. Capital Gains income from the transfer of real estate in Spain: three months after the date of the sale.
  3. Other types of income: the first 20 natural days of the months of April, July, October and January.

Two faces beside each other

Double Tax Treaties. What are they and what are they for?

Double tax treaties are agreements signed by two countries which determine how taxation on the same income between two countries is distributed when there is a conflict (i.e. when a person qualifies as a tax resident under two countries under the laws of each country or when a tax resident in one country receives income from an asset located in another country).

Spain has in force more than 94 Double Tax Treaties with other countries (including United States, United Kingdom, Australia, etc.) It is of great importance to know the mechanisms of these and apply them as they enable us to avoid paying taxes twice.

Can I be a tax resident of two countries?

No, you can’t. If you qualify as a tax resident in two countries, you should apply the applicable Double Tax Treaty (if existing).

The double tax treaties between Spain and other countries has a “tie-breaker” clause that comes into operation if you’re a resident both in Spain under the Spanish rules and in the other country under the other country’s rules. The purpose is to determine in which country you will be regarded as a resident for taxes covered by the agreement.

In order to identify which country has preference over your tax residency, you need to follow the following list:

  1. If you’re a resident in both countries per each country’s domestic rules, you’re deemed to be a resident in the country in which you have a permanent home available to you. A permanent home is any form of accommodation which is continuously available to you for personal use. It doesn’t have to be owned by you.
  2. If you have permanent homes available to you in both countries, you’re deemed to be a resident in the country that is your center of vital interests (economic interests and family members).
  3. If the test is indeterminate, you’re deemed to be a resident in the country in which you have a habitual abode (i.e. where you carry your habitual life).
  4. If you have a habitual abode in both countries, you’re deemed to be a resident in the country of which you are a national.
  5. If you’re a national of both countries, or neither, the competent authorities shall determine which country has preference.

Dog holding its paw in the air

If I am a tax resident in Spain but have income or assets in another country, do I need to report or pay anything in the other country?

You need to apply the Tax Treaty to see which country has the right to tax and to which amount, which will depend on your residency and the type of income. For example, income from real estate is nearly always taxable where the real estate is located.

If the Tax Treaty enables a foreign country to tax certain income, income which you will also have to declare and tax in Spain (as Spain taxes on global income), you’ll be able to deduct taxes paid in the foreign country in your Spanish taxes.

What are my tax obligations if I set up a company?

If you set up a company in Spain, the company will be subject to corporate income tax (IS, Impuesto sobre Sociedades). Any company tax resident in Spain is subject to Spanish corporate income tax on its worldwide income. A company is deemed a tax resident in Spain if it has been formed in accordance with the laws of Spain, or if it has its registered office, or its effective place of management, in Spain.

A company is taxed on its profits at a general tax rate of 25%. There are numerous tax benefits available (i.e. for newly created businesses and small and medium sized companies).

I am a US citizen. Do I need to pay taxes in the US?

Yes, as a US citizen you’re required to file federal taxes yearly irrelevant of where you are a resident. Additionally, you may also be obliged to report foreign assets if you surpass certain limits (i.e. 10,000USD in foreign bank accounts).

By Lucía Goy MastromiecheleAn expert on Spanish tax residency

Lucía Goy, Managing Partner at Goy Gentile Lawyers, is a tax lawyer with a strong focus in Spanish and International Taxation for expats in Spain. Lucía is admitted to practice in the US and Spain, and obtained law degrees in both jurisdictions (Harvard Law School, LL.M. and ICADE. Bachelor in Law). After working at leading international law firms in Madrid, New York, London and Brussels, Lucía returned to Spain to set up Goy Gentile, a law firm specialized in advising expats investing and moving to Spain.

To make an appointment with Lucía at Goy Gentile Lawyers, click here.