Before worrying about paperwork and taxation, you need to apply for an NIE (Número de Identificación de Estranjeros), the identification number for foreigners, regardless of whether or not you require a work visa. The application for a NIE is not very complicated. It simply requires you to bring a completed applications form (EX-15) and a copy, your passport and a copy, a passport-sized photograph, and a proof of your current address in Spain to the nearest Oficina de Extranjeros. It should take up to three weeks for your NIE to arrive.
Non-residents get taxed on any income arising in Spain. If you are a resident, you will be taxed on your worldwide income, but you may deduct any income tax paid back home. If you are a non-resident the Impuesto sobre la Renta de no Residentes (IRNR) applies to you. Residents need to look into the Impuesto sobre la Renta de las Personas Físicas (IRPF). The IRPF regulations were changed in 2015 and the easiest way to get an overview of your financial situation in this respect is by using an online calculator.
Foreign nationals who are neither EU-citizens, nor nationals of a country with a special agreement with Spain, are required to pay taxes in Spain. Due to the fact that these tax regulations again differ based on country of origin, please see the relevant brochure of the Spanish tax office for detailed information.
The requirements differ by country of origin and type of employment. For example, if you come from the United States to work in Spain, you must contact the Internal Revenue Service in the States for more information, or, if the legalese doesn’t scare you, take a look at the Income Tax Convention with Spain.
You may be from a country that has a double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) with Spain. Check the UN database to see if this applies to you. If this is the case, you must make sure which country is entitled to your taxes. Generally DTAA’s mean those present in Spain for less than 183 days in a year will not be taxed by both their home and host country.
Take the UK, for example, which has a double taxation treaty with Spain: if a British citizen is planning on working in Spain, they must pay taxes in their country of residence. If they are a resident of both Spain and the UK, according to the countries’ respective regulations, they must pay taxes where their permanent home is. If their permanent home is both in the UK and in Spain, they would pay taxes in the country where they reside more frequently.
From the example described above, you see how complicated figuring out taxation abroad might get. If you are unclear about anything, consult a tax advisor in Spain who has worked with foreign nationals from your country of origin before. We also recommend you seek the help of an attorney when considering moving to and working in Spain.
The entire process of starting to work in Spain is made easier if you already have an employer before migrating as they may be able to help you with the formalities of the Spanish bureaucratic system. If you are searching for work on your own, having a good grip on the Spanish language will surely help when browsing popular job websites such as the following:
In addition, you should look at the major national and regional newspapers around Spain such as El País or El Mundo. It may also be wise to see if your current company has any job listings in Spain before embarking on a solo job hunt. Please remember that, with the current economic situation, finding a job in Spain is still very challenging.
Depending on your country of origin, your academic degrees may not be recognized in Spain. In order to find out what their Spanish equivalent is and whether your respective degree meets the Spanish requirements or whether it needs to be officially accredited (homologación), check out the Spanish Ministry of Education website.
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