Two people working at a table

Guide to Working in Spain

In this article, I will list basic spain facts for those who are interested in working in the country – in the sense of being an employee and working for someone else, rather than being self-employed or opening your own business, which I´ll deal with elsewhere (see other articles below).

The good news is that, for European Union citizens who have managed to find work, the red tape involved is reasonably straight-forward. However, it is rather more involved for non-EU citizens, as you will see!

European union citizens – working guide

European Union citizens can now work in Spain under exactly the same conditions as Spaniards – the keywords being equal treatment. This does not mean, however, that you are entitled to preferential treatment and, if you don´t know Spanish and are unable to find work, I suppose you have to ask yourself how many Spaniards are able to find employment without being able to speak or write Spanish!

You will still need an autorización de residencia y trabajo – a work and residence document but, once you have work, this is easy to obtain for EU citizens. Also, spouses and children under 21 who are dependent on the worker have the right to reside in the country and to obtain employment.

Should you lose your employment and have contributed to the Spanish social security system whilst working, you will also be entitled to unemployment benefit.

European union citizens – finding work

So, how do you go about finding a job if you are an EU citizen?

If you do not have employment before arriving in Spain, it is possible to enter the country as a tourist with just your passport, go to your nearest INEM – Instituto Nacional de Empleo (National Employment Institute) and register for work, just as a Spaniard would. You can remain as a tourist for up to six months.

Depending on your qualifications, the type of work you seek, and your ability to speak Spanish, it is possible that INEM will be able to find you work. If not, you will have to seek out private employment agencies, look under the situations vacant adds in newspapers (in particular, local English ones), and ask around generally.

Once you have found work, go to the local police station or departamento de extranjeros with your job contract, social security card, passport, medical certificate and four photos, fill in the application forms and wait for your permit to be granted. You should eventually receive a tarjeta comunitaria (residence and work permit) along with your NIE – número de identificación de extranjeros or tax identification number.

This all sounds complicated but, in actual fact, your employer will handle most of the paperwork and be responsible for paying most of your Social Security payments (it is illegal to work and not pay into the Spanish Social Security system). The most difficult part will be finding a suitable job!

Types of work contract

If you are an employee and working for somebody else (ie not self-employed), you will be given a work permit called cuenta ajena. There are two sorts of cuenta ajena permits – Permiso A and Permiso BPermiso A is a temporary permit lasting for three-month, six-month or nine-month periods. Permiso B is a more permanent contract, normally lasting for one year with renewals for five years.

Work checklist for non-european union

If you are a non-EU citizen and wish to take up employment in Spain it is more complicated and you are only entitled to a job which has been advertised with the Spanish Employment Institute and for which no adequate Spanish candidate can be found – alright if you are in a specialized field. There are also temporary work permits of up to six months for people such as tour guides, who will be working in Spain for short periods without taking out residence.

Basically, to apply for a work permit, you will need the following items:

  • Appropriate visa from the Spanish consulate in your home
  • A certificado penal from your home province stating you
    have no prison record – translated into Spanish.
  • Once in Spain, a health certificate or certificado médico
    showing you have no contagious diseases.
  • A certificate of registration with the consulate of your
    home country in Spain.
  • Five photos.

Although the procedure is complicated, presumably, if you have found a suitable job, your employer will either “know the ropes” or have a gestor or lawyer to help deal with these matters.

Talking of gestors and lawyers, remember that I am not a legal expert and you would be advised to check out the above with someone who is!

For those of you who are planning to live here, I hope the following Spain facts will also be of interest.

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