Spain plans ‘digital nomad’ visa program to attract remote workers | Spain

Spain plans to issue ‘digital nomad’ visas giving Brits and other non-EU citizens the chance to work in the sun and enjoy a lower cost of living with tax breaks thrown in for good measure.

The visas will be offered to people who work remotely for companies outside of Spain and who derive a maximum of 20% of their income from Spanish companies.

As the law has not yet been passed, there are still a few details to work out, but it is expected that the visa – essentially a residence permit – will initially be valid for one year, renewable up to five years depending on the applicant’s situation. Close relatives, such as a spouse or children, will be eligible to join the applicant.

Applicants must be from outside the European Economic Area and able to demonstrate that they have been working remotely for at least one year. They must have an employment contract or, if they are self-employed, prove that they have been regularly employed by a company outside Spain.

They must also demonstrate that they will earn enough to be self-sufficient and that they have an address in Spain. It is not yet known if they will have to submit to a criminal record check.

For the first four years, they will be taxed at 15%, instead of the standard base rate of 25%.

Spain joins 15 other European countries that offer a version of the digital nomad visa. Each country has its own set of conditions.

In Croatia, for example, applicants must earn at least €2,300 per month, in Estonia €3,500, in Iceland €7,100 and in Portugal only €700. It is believed that Spain will set a minimum monthly income of around €2,000.

Greece introduced a digital nomad law in October 2021, offering residency for one to three years. Candidates must have a monthly income of €3,500.

Some countries require you to have cash in the bank – €5,500 in the case of the Czech Republic – as well as income. Some may also insist on private health insurance.

Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona are already popular among EU digital nomads, with the latter proving to be a prime destination for startups as the city aspires to become a tech hub and less reliant on tourism.

“It’s easy to attract talent. Barcelona is small, densely populated and cosmopolitan,” says Sacha Michaud, who co-founded food delivery company Glovo in the city.

Glovo’s staff is international, and like other startups in the city, the company’s lingua franca is English.

The Start Up law aims to facilitate the journey of entrepreneurs through the notorious Spanish bureaucracy. Currently, it takes an average of 20-30 days to set up a business here, compared to one day in the Netherlands or the UK.

Spain was ranked 30th in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report 2020.

Excellent 4G coverage almost everywhere in Spain encourages some nomads to settle in rural areas where rents are very low. Internet speed is among the fastest in Europe and, at 148Mbps, almost double the UK speed of 75Mbps.

However, for residents of cities like Madrid and Barcelona, ​​a negative effect is that nomads drive up rents, as people working remotely for US or UK companies can demand much higher wages and pay higher rent than the locals, the residents.

According to a report published this year, in Spain the average monthly salary is €1,751 (£1,516), 20% below the European average of €2,194.

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