If you would like to start a business, and Spain is the place you have in mind, keep reading. The country has recently become an international hub for startups recognized at the European level, and many foreigners are moving to the country to develop their own businesses.
This is thanks to how easy the country’s government makes it for you to put up your business and obtain residency with the entrepreneur visa.
In this article, we go into detail about all the requirements of the entrepreneur visa, as well as the step-by-step application process, and, even, key tips that will ensure a successful application!
So if you would like to enjoy the many advantages you can experience as a foreigner starting a business in Spanish territory… This article is for you.
What is the entrepreneur visa in Spain 2023?
The entrepreneur visa is the residence permit granted to non-EU citizens who want to develop their entrepreneurial business activity in Spain.
That is, it is a residence permit for three years (with the possibility of renewal at the end of this period) that you can get as long as you set up your business in the Spanish territory, which must be totally innovative and different from what already exists in the market today.
A question that many foreigners ask is: What type of visa do I need to work in Spain?
With this visa, you have a possible answer.
As you can see, the entrepreneur visa is essentially a self-employment work visa in Spain. It is designed for the development of a creative project that is completely different from what exists in the market. If your business idea is original, and there is no product or service that does the same, it could be an idea that fits this type of entrepreneurial residency.
Throughout this article we will understand what exactly makes a business idea valid in order to apply for this permit, and we will put special emphasis on that.
The reason is simple: that is perhaps the most fundamental aspect when applying for this residency, since not just any type of business allows for a successful application.
However, summing up, thanks to the immigration law created in 2013 for the internationalization of entrepreneurs and foreign investment, it is currently possible to obtain residency in Spain if you set up a startup or company as long as it is based on pure disruption, and the means to that end is the entrepreneur visa.
Let’s study the main requirements that will allow you to obtain your residency.
Benefits of the Spanish Business Visa
Enjoying a new life in Spain as a foreigner offers great advantages, that’s why it’s the dream of many. Plus, doing it through the entrepreneurial residency makes it even better.
What makes this such a popular option? The main advantages of this visa are:
- The initial entrepreneur residency card has a duration of 3 years (instead of the usual 1 year) and will allow you to live and work in Spain.
- You can apply for this visa directly from Spain while on your tourist visa.
- You will receive an express resolution, as these visas are processed quickly in just 20 days.
- When submitting your application, you will have the possibility of making a joint application and including your spouse or common-law partner, minor children, or dependent parents (father or mother who are financially dependent) in the same application. Alternatively, you can also bring them with you to Spain once you are already in the country legally.
Now, let’s look at the main requirements that will allow you to obtain it.
Entrepreneur visa requirements
On one hand, it is absolutely true that in order to get this visa there is no minimum investment (neither in the company nor in the country in general), and you do not need to hire any employees.
However, this may not be the right path in many cases.
Due to the complicated requirements of this residence permit, it could be that the business idea you have in mind is not enough to have your application approved.
Before we get into them, here’s a checklist to summarize these requirements:
As you can see, there is quite a bit to consider. Therefore, you should make sure you comply with these requirements to avoid wasting time and money on an application that will end up being denied.
Thus, our recommendation is that you contact our team of lawyers before starting with the procedure, and carefully explain your situation and business idea so that our expert lawyers can confirm if the project will be valid or not.
Your business idea
As stated in Law 14/2013, the law that regulates all visas under the entrepreneurs law, for this specific residency the business idea plays a fundamental role when it comes to the application procedure.
Your business idea (i.e. the product or service you plan to market in Spain), must strictly comply with 3 main requirements.
Firstly, and most importantly, it must be innovative. You must ask yourself: what is new about my product, what makes it different from what is already on the market?
Thus, this visa is only granted to entrepreneurs with totally disruptive ideas. Setting up a coffee shop or a hairdressing salon would not be a valid option, as they are already existing concepts.
Usually, if your service or product has a large technological component and its operations are based on algorithms or complex logistical operations, you are on the right track.
Secondly, the company you intend to create must be of special economic interest for Spain. Here you will have to answer: why is the Spanish territory interested in a project like this?
Basically, through this point you are measuring your capacity to generate wealth for the country and to make the business grow, employing workers in the future (something that helps a lot to get your application approved).
Finally, it is also important that the business creates investment opportunities for the country.
Applicant's professional and academic profile
While the business idea is one of the fundamental pillars of your application, the other one is the applicant and her professional profile.
Thus, as a foreigner who intends to obtain the entrepreneur visa in Spain, you must demonstrate that you have sufficient training and qualifications to develop the business idea successfully.
That is why you must demonstrate your level of studies and professional trajectory to date (i.e., where you have been studied and what, and where you have worked).
On the other hand, it will be important to explain why you are motivated to start the business and how you have developed the idea.
In short, your experience, capacity and motivation must be equivalent to the challenges and requirements that the company will generate on a day-to-day basis.
If your profile is not sufficiently qualified for the idea you are proposing, the application will most likely be rejected.
Your application for residency is attached to the business idea, because based on that idea would or wouldn’t receive a favorable residency resolution.
Thus, the same business idea that may be approved by the Spanish administration could also be rejected if the business plan does not meet the minimum requirements.
The business plan, a fundamental piece in the application, must provide the basic structure to understand what the idea consists of and how it will be developed.
In summary, what should you include in your business plan?
First of all, a description of the professional activity and analysis of the product or service you are going to market (what it consists of, its strengths, how it represents a disruption or innovation, etc.).
On the other hand, a market analysis in relation to the project to be developed, as well as of the main competitors (direct and indirect). Here we recommend including a SWOT analysis to complete the information.
A financial projection and an expected financing report will also be very important. That is to say, are you going to use your own financial resources or will you resort to external channels such as banks or any other type of lender? You will have to plan all the details that will allow you to keep operations running on a day-to-day basis, and the level of income you expect to generate.
Also, detail the different marketing and commercialization strategies you intend to use.
Finally, the impact your business will have on the Spanish economy(you will need to quantify this as far as possible), as well as the number of jobs you expect to generate, plus a description of these.
In addition to the specific documents that we will see below in the application process section, the previous 3 requirements correspond to the 3 main keys that are legally necessary to achieve a successful application.
However, there are a number of extras that you can include to your application that can certainly help in getting your visa.
In that sense, you can provide any kind of proof that ratifies the validity of your business idea or company.
We are talking about, for example, a letter from an investor or business angel who wants to invest; letters from customers who have bought the product (or a prototype) and validate it, or from potential customers who would be willing to buy.
Any proof that acts as support and verifies that it is a solid idea that can be successful is highly recommended.
Application procedure: How to get the Entrepreneurial Visa in Spain
Let’s now analyze how the application process works step by step; where you’ll have to apply and how long it will take to get the entrepreneurial visa in Spain.
One of the main advantages of this residence permit is that there are two possible ways to start its application:
- First, you can initiate the process from your home country, submitting all the documentation to the Spanish consulate, where you will be given the visa with which you will be able to travel and enter Spain.
- On the other hand, you can also get this permit directly from Spain with your tourist visa (or regular stay in case your country does not require a visa). This facilitates the process enormously.
So, how long does it take to get a startup visa for Spain?
In any case, once you have sent all the documentation there is a period of 20 days for the administration to analyze and resolve your application.
If after this period you do not receive a response from the UGE (the institution that manages it), you can resort to positive silence (i.e., your application will be considered favorable, getting the permit without any extra step).
Once you have obtained a favorable resolution, you will have to make an appointment at the immigration office to register your fingerprints.
And, finally, after 20-30 days, you will have to return to pick up your TIE or physical residence card (providing your passport, ID photos and empadronamiento certificate).
And, how much does the Spanish entrepreneur visa cost?
Like we mentioned, it’s important to note that there is no minimum investment requirement (neither in the company nor in the country as a whole) to open a business in Spain.
In fact, with the recent Create and Grow Law, you can establish a limited liability company with just one euro.However, this comes with advantages and disadvantages, such as being less attractive to potential investors.
(If you’re more interested in setting up a company in Spain rather than specifically obtaining the entrepreneur visa, click here.)
Moreover, although the entrepreneur visa per se has no specific cost aside from the corresponding visa fee, it will be necessary to demonstrate sufficient economic means to sustain yourself, your business, and, possibly, your family in Spain. We will find the specific requirements in the following sections, so keep reading!
Where can you apply for the startup visa?
Like all visas under the Entrepreneurs Law, the entrepreneur visa is requested at the UGE, the “Unidad de Grandes Empresas” or Large Business Unit in Madrid.
Thankfully, it is not necessary to travel to the Spanish capital to submit all the required documentation.
However, before going to the UGE, it’s important to note that there are slight differences in the steps you have to take, depending on if you started the application process from your country or from Spain.
If you’re applying from your country, you first need to get the permit for entrepreneurs and business activity. If you are granted this permit, you can then apply for the residence visa at the Spanish consulate in your country, which will allow you to travel to Spain.
If you are already legally in Spain, you can directly apply for the permit for entrepreneurs and business activity.
And, in the case of applying for this residency from Spain, you have the following 4 options:
- Send the application online through the electronic headquarters of the UGE, carrying out the complete management by telematic means. You will need a digital certificate to complete this online process.
- Applying through the common electronic registry of the Ministry of Finance and Public Function, where you will also need your digital certificate.
- Go to the UGE at its headquarters located in Madrid and leave all the documentation yourself in person.
- Visit any public registry office from the government’s subdelegation in your city (if for example you do not have a digital certificate and do not want to go to Madrid). At the registry office they will digitalize all your documentation and send it internally to the UGE.
On the other hand, once you have prepared your business plan, you must send it to one of the following institutions so that they can review it and decide if the project is valid to apply for the entrepreneur visa (giving you a favorable report).
Where to send it?
- At the Directorate-General for International Trade and Investments if you are in your home country at the time of application.
- If you are in Spain with your tourist visa, at the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
Your business plan will be checked by ENISA, which is Spain’s National Innovation Company. If they approve of you and your partners’ professional profiles, the business plan, and your possible contribution to Spanish society, you would have a successful application.
Below you can find the list of documents that you must submit at the Spanish consulate or at the UGE if in Spain:
- Complete passport (must be valid at the time of application) and a copy
- Private medical insurance with no deductibles or co-payments, contracted with a Spanish company for 1 year
- Criminal record certificate from all countries that you have resided in for the last 5 years
- Economic means to support yourself during the three years and the business you are going to set up. We are talking about 100% of IPREM: €7,200 for the applicant, €5,400 for the spouse, and €3,600 for each minor)
- The favorable report accepting that your entrepreneurship idea is valid. If the business plan is approved by the Commercial Office, the document can be submitted to the corresponding Immigration Office
- Proof of payment of the corresponding fee
- Application form, which you can find here
How to renew your entrepreneur residency
This residence authorization is granted for 3 years (instead of 1 year like most residences under the general immigration law).
Once this period comes to an end, if you wish to continue living in Spain you must renew your residency card.
The renewal consists of the same requirements that were required at the time of the initial application; and you will be granted a card for 2 years (which, once finished, will be the door to get long-term residency, since you would have already been in Spain for 5 years).
The only difference is that in this case there has been enough time to evaluate the performance of your business, so it will be important to justify and demonstrate how it is performing and an equally viable future projection.
If you can justify this, you can easily extend your residence card. You’ll just have to go back to the national police to register your fingerprints and they will issue you a new card.
This procedure is done between 60 days before and 90 days after the expiration date of the initial card (although we recommend that you do it as early as possible).
And what happens if my application gets rejected?
For the reasons stated at the beginning of this article, in the office we frequently encounter foreigners who arrive with rejected entrepreneur visa applications.
In most cases the applicant hasn’t taken into account or checked that his business idea is valid enough for approval of residency as an entrepreneur; or the business plan was not complete enough.
What to do then? Luckily, there are alternatives.
Here are 3 options:
- First, you can file an immigration appeal if you consider that there has been an error in the rejection of your application, since you did indeed meet all the requirements. Keep in mind that this appeal usually takes several months, lengthening the process considerably
- On the other hand, on certain occasions it is much more advisable to reapply again (i.e., from 0), benefiting from the 20-day resolution period. Use this route if you consider that you really have a chance of having your application approved
- Finally, the most common case usually requires the search for alternatives. If, for example, your application is rejected because your business idea is not innovative enough, you can always choose to apply for a self-employment work permit. Here it is possible to create businesses based on concepts that already exist in Spain, and even develop your activity as an independent professional (either as an online marketer, as an accountant, web designer, etc.)
Start your business and get the residency in Spain now
Now you know everything it takes to start your business in Spain and get your entrepreneur visa. While it is true that this is a residence that offers ample advantages, the application process can be one of the most complicated due to its strict requirements.
That is why, the best recommendation we can provide for this startup residence permit is to always consult with a lawyer. It is essential to understand your situation, see if it fits with what is established on the immigration law, and only then proceed with your application.
So, if you would like our immigration lawyers to analyze your particular case and provide the legal assistance you need, contact us below.
Get in touch with our lawyers and let us guide you step by step: