EU nationals

Spain announced that it will be opening its borders for workers from all EU countries in spring 2006. Therefore, as of that date, if you are an EU national you will not need a work permit to work in Spain — you can enter the country as a tourist and register with the Spanish national employment office (Instituto Nacional de Empleo - INEM) to look for a job. You then have 90 days to find employment — you can obtain an extension after that date or leave Spain and re-enter for a further 90 days. Once you find a job, you will need your employment contract in order to apply for your residence permit.

Non-EU nationals

Non-EU residents who wish to work in Spain must obtain a work permit. They must also obtain a visa before moving to work in Spain.
Work permits must be applied for at the Foreigners' Office (Oficinas de Extranjeros) or to the provincial office of the Ministry of Labour (Delegación Provincial del Ministerio de Trabajo), if you are already in Spain. If you are not in Spain, a work permit must be applied for at the Consular office of your home country.
The provincial labour offices (Direcciones Provinciales de Trabajo, Seguridad Social y Asuntos Sociales) will decide whether the work permit will be issued or not.
The supporting documentation needed is quite extensive and can take some time to collect. It must be submitted in Spanish, so translations should be taken into both time and financial budgets. Once the application has been lodged, processing takes between 3 and 6 months due to the highly bureaucratic systems designed to protect the resident labour markets.

There are two possible ways for the candidate to be employed with a work permit for the first time:
  1. As the direct employee of Spanish company. In the first instance this would be a type b, which is for a maximum of 1 year. This may be extended and would become a type B, valid for a maximum of 2 years.
  2. As the employee of a foreign company that is providing services to Spanish company. This foreign company may not be a recruitment agency and must produce a service contract as part of the application. In this scenario, a Spanish accountant must administer the pay rolling of the candidate to ensure that all tax and social security is duly paid. This would be a type A permit and would be valid for a maximum of 9 months.
!!!!The European court made a ruling that any EEA company should be able to provide services to its EEA clients without the need to obtain additional work permits for its employees. i.e. if a British software house sells its product to a Spanish company and to install the product on its client's systems needs to send some non-EEA employees who have UK work permits to the client's offices in Spain they should not need a Spanish work permit.

A work permit is permission for a company to employ a foreign worker given by the labour authorities. It does not allow the candidate to travel to or reside in Spain. Once the work permit has been approved the candidate should apply for a residence visa.

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