*Note: The figures noted as the financial requirements should be confirmed directly with the appropriate Spanish government website at your time of application. This is because Spain is raising the minimum wage threshold, which will impact the associated financial requirements for digital nomads.
The Spain digital nomad visa offers an exciting opportunity for US citizens to enter and reside in Spain for an extended period of time. If you’re seeking to embrace a new chapter abroad while continuing to work remotely, you can now do so. Spain, known for its sun-kissed beaches, captivating cities, and rich cultural heritage, rolled out its nomad visa earlier this year, and the details are now readily available.
Under this visa, individuals approved as “teletrabajadores de carácter internacional” – international teleworkers – can legally reside and work remotely in Spain.
In this article, we delve into Spain’s digital nomad visa eligibility criteria and the application process, how digital nomads in Spain pay taxes, and more. If you’re eager to work remotely from Spain, you won’t want to miss this opportunity.
Snapshot of expat life in Spain
Population: 47 million
Capital city: Madrid
Official language(s): Spanish
Approximate number of American expats: 40,000
Spain’s digital nomad visa is part of a broader strategic legislative package
Spain’s digital nomad visa is a component of la ley de startups, or the Startup Act.1 This law is intended to drive economic growth and promote technological innovation in the country by attracting startups, digital nomads, and investors. Spain, together with Austria and Portugal, is a founding member of the European Startup Nation Alliance, which aims to spur Europe to the forefront of the global startup ecosystem.2
The Startup Act was initially proposed several years ago. After undergoing several rounds of negotiations, revisions, and approvals, the law received the green light from both chambers of the Spanish legislative branch (the Congress of Deputies and the Senate) in November 2022. On December 1st, the government publicly announced and published the text of the law. It went into effect a few weeks later.
Requirements and process to become a digital nomad in Spain
There are various citizenship, educational/work experience, financial, and healthcare requirements an applicant must fulfill to successfully obtain a digital nomad visa for Spain.
The Spanish digital nomad visa is open to nationals from countries outside the EU and the European Economic Area. This means that US citizens and permanent residents can apply for a digital nomad visa in Spain. There are a few conditions, though:
- Applicants may not be residing illegally in Spain at the time of application, nor may they have resided there within the past five years.
- Applicants must pass a criminal background check. (Specifically: an applicant cannot have a criminal record in Spain or anywhere else for two years before applying.)
Additionally, applicants for the digital nomad visa in Spain must be able to:
- Evidence that they will earn at least 200% more than the Spanish minimum wage. The minimum wage will soon change, but currently, the amount a prospective digital nomad will need to earn is at least 28,000 EUR (29,800 USD) a year. (You can prove this figure by including items such as contracts, bank statements, invoices, and pay stubs in your application.)
- Demonstrate work with companies based outside of Spain for at least three months before their application
- Be able to provide qualifications to work in their field via a university degree or at least three years of work experience.
- The work contract must be for remote work as an employee or contractor with a company.
- You must also be able to provide proof of a work contract for at least three months prior to your application. This work contract must also specifically state that it allows remote work.
- The full-time remote work contract must be 1) with a company outside of Spain, or 2) the digital nomad must be self-employed with multiple clients.
If you are self-employed with multiple clients, you are allowed to have clients in Spain, however, they must not comprise more than 20% of your income.
In essence, in order to receive Spain’s digital nomad visa, applicants need to be able to produce the following documents:
- Valid employment contract(s)
- Proof of sufficient income to support your stay and dependents (as applicable)
- Health insurance (such as from SafetyWing)
- Clean criminal record
The length of time a digital nomad may reside legally in Spain depends on how they applied. If you apply from the US, you are effectively applying for a digital nomad visa. Upon acceptance, the visa is valid for one year.* After the first year, you will apply for a digital nomad residence permit, which will allow you to stay another three years if you are accepted. (This three-year permit may be renewed once.)
If you apply for a digital nomad visa from within Spain, you are effectively applying for a digital nomad residence permit. Upon acceptance, you will be allowed to stay in Spain for three years. After three years, you can apply to renew it one more time under the digital nomad scheme.
*If you apply for a digital nomad visa, you will receive an amount of time equal to the date stated on your work contract (up to one year). For instance, if you’re engaged in remote work on an eight-month freelance contract at the time of application, the visa will be granted for the period between approval and the contract’s expiration.
🇪🇸 Permanent residency status callout:
Upon legally residing in Spain continuously for five years, you can apply for permanent residence. Permanent residents have all of the benefits of citizenship, with the exception of the right to vote and a passport. (These rights are conferred should you choose to become a Spanish citizen, however, the qualifications are different than for permanent resident status.)
Spain’s digital nomad visa application process
Let’s now unravel the steps that pave the way to your dream nomadic lifestyle in this Mediterranean paradise:
- Gather the required documents
- Make an appointment at either
- your nearest Spain consulate/embassy (if applying from outside of Spain for a digital nomad visa), or
- the Unit of Large Business and Strategic Collectives (if applying from within Spain for a digital nomad residence permit).
- Submit your documents in person
- Pay the application fee
- Receive approval within 20 business days. If no notification is received, then your application is considered approved by default.
- Book your travel to Spain (!)
- Complete all of the necessary administrative procedures necessary to facilitate your move (more on this below)
Where to live in Spain
Americans living in Spain have a number of different locations to choose from, many of which have established digital nomad and expat communities.3 And thanks to the significantly lower cost of living in Spain vs. the USA, living in Spain as an American is comfortable just about anywhere.
Here are a few of the most popular choices:
If you love the hustle and bustle of big cities, it’s hard to beat Madrid. Besides being Spain’s capital, Madrid is also often considered the cultural capital, with an abundance of incredible museums, theaters, concert venues, and gourmet restaurants. From the alternative Lavapiés to the hipster Malasaña to the posh, professional Salamanca, there’s a barrio for just about everybody.
Barcelona boasts a cultural scene just as impressive as Madrid’s, plus a beach to boot. The city prides itself on its strong Catalonian identity, with its regional language, cuisine, and traditions all giving it a completely unique feel from the rest of Spain. Art and architecture fans will also appreciate the almost tangible presence of Gaudi throughout the city, from the Sagrada Familia to Park Güell to Casa Batlló.
Valencia’s laidback beach town vibe, thriving nightlife, and lower cost of living have led some to declare it as the best place in the world to live and work abroad. From legendary cuisine (Valencia is the home of paella, after all) and the world-renowned City of the Arts and Sciences — a museum that’s just as fascinating on the inside as it is gorgeous on the outside — Valencia is one Spanish city that’s not to be missed.
Las Islas Canarias is a beautiful, subtropical island chain off the west coast of Africa. They aren’t Spain’s most populous region, but the digital nomad population has been exploding in recent years. The temperature is pleasant year-round, making any day a great day to visit one of their many beaches. The Islands are also legendary for their party scene, but it’s easy to retreat into nature to rest and recharge when needed.
Digital nomad life in Spain
5 things that should be on your Spain bucket list
- Explore the Sagrada Família in Barcelona: This iconic basilica, designed by the legendary architect Antoni Gaudí, is a masterpiece of modernist architecture. Its intricate facades and awe-inspiring interior make it a must-visit attraction, blending history, art, and spirituality.
- Experience the Alhambra in Granada: The Alhambra is a stunning palace and fortress complex dating back to the Nasrid dynasty. Its exquisite Islamic architecture, serene gardens, and breathtaking views of the city make it a cultural gem not to be missed.
- Wander the streets of La Rambla in Barcelona: La Rambla is a vibrant and bustling promenade that showcases the lively spirit of Barcelona. From street performers to local shops, restaurants, and cafes, it’s a perfect place to soak in the city’s energy and diverse culture.
- Relax on the beaches of Costa del Sol: Spain’s southern coast offers a plethora of beautiful beaches along the Costa del Sol. With its warm Mediterranean climate and picturesque coastal towns, it’s an ideal destination for sunbathing, water sports, and enjoying the laid-back Spanish lifestyle.
- Discover the Prado Museum in Madrid: Art enthusiasts will be captivated by the Prado Museum’s extensive collection of European art, featuring masterpieces by renowned artists such as Velázquez, Goya, and Titian. It’s an enriching experience that provides a fascinating glimpse into Spain’s rich artistic heritage.
Expat community in Spain – how to find your people
It’s normal to feel unsure and even a little lonely when you move to a new Spain. Fortunately, Spain is bursting with opportunities to get out and meet new people -you’ll be making new friends in no time. A few ideas:
- Move into a co-living space
- Work from a coworking space
- Stay in a social hostel
- Take classes (e.g. Spanish, cooking, etc.)
- Attend events on Meetup & Couchsurfing
- Join a football (soccer) club
- Get involved in the Spain Digital Nomad Community
- Join local expat groups on Facebook
- Attend a language exchange or use a language exchange app
- Volunteer in your community
Moving to Spain
Before making the leap to becoming a digital nomad in Spain, make sure you cross the following off of your to-do list:
- Gather all of your important documents (passport, visa, etc.)
- Set up a doctor’s appointment to get any vaccines or medications you might need prior to your departure
- Research the Spanish equivalent of any medications you may need to obtain while in Spain
- Purchase airfare
- Book accommodations for your arrival
- Research what to bring, create a list, and pack your bags (this is also a great time to downsize, but take it slow – packing is one of the most overwhelming aspects of travel)
- Flag your travel plans to your bank (and any credit cards you’ll be using) so they don’t mark purchases abroad as suspicious
- Note: you may want to open an online money transfer account to facilitate transactions in different currencies. We recommend two depending on whether you require a more personalized service or you’re happy to dig in solo
- Additionally, setting up a Google Voice number prior to leaving the US is advisable because many US credit card companies still require a US number to send a confirmation text
- Set up a forwarding address for your mail, if necessary
- Connect with other digital nomads in Spain for advice on sites like Reddit or Facebook
Securing accommodation in Spain
Looking for a new home in Spain, especially in vibrant cities like Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia, can be quite an adventure. But fear not, we’ve got some insider tips to turn this quest into a fun, rewarding experience. Soon enough, you’ll be enjoying a cup of café con leche on your own Spanish terrace.
First off, let’s talk about Homelike, a website designed with people like you in mind – digital nomads and remote workers who need a flexible, comfortable, and well-equipped space to live and work. Imagine working from a stylish, fully-furnished rental in Madrid, Barcelona, or Valencia. With Homelike, this dream can easily become your reality.
If you’re looking for long-term rentals, there are several online platforms that can help you find your dream casa. Websites like Fotocasa and Idealista are like your personal tour guides, leading you through a variety of long-term rental listings to suit different needs and budgets. And if you’re open to sharing your space, Piso Compartido is a great place to find a shared apartment.
For those who prefer the traditional route, estate agents, or inmobiliarias as they’re known locally, are always ready to lend a helping hand. They can provide valuable insights but don’t forget that they might charge an agency fee.
Finding a place to live in Spain can be as exciting as exploring its historic streets and vibrant markets. With the right resources and a bit of patience, you’ll soon be calling one of these amazing Spanish cities “home.”
Spain digital nomad visa tax rate
Typically, Spanish citizens and residents pay taxes according to a progressive regime known as Impuesto sobre la Renta de las Personas Físicas (IRPF). However, in the case of digital nomads, the Spanish government has enhanced an already-attractive tax regime to attract applicants.
The digital nomad tax regime is based on the 2005 Beckham Law,4 so-called after David Beckham claimed it when he played for Real Madrid. At present, digital nomads in Spain will effectively fall under the Non-Resident Income Tax Regime,” meaning that they are not subject to the IRPF tax bands so long as they make less than 600,000 euros a year. Instead, digital nomads in Spain will pay a simple flat tax of 24%, which is equal to the second-lowest IRPF tax band. Additionally, family members of digital nomads in Spain may also apply for this favorable regime by extension.5
While the tax regime that digital nomads are entitled to has many similarities to the Beckham Law, the two are not identical. Considering that the Beckham Law has historically been applied by wealthier expats, it would behoove digital nomads to consult a Spanish tax attorney to ensure they have a comprehensive understanding of the specificities of the digital nomad tax regime, including how it differs from the Beckham Law.
Additional tax benefits for digital nomads in Spain
Holding a “nonresident” tax status also exempts digital nomads from the Spanish wealth tax (Impuesto sobre el Patrimonio).
There is also a draft provision that would have hugely positive implications for digital nomads seeking to invest in Spanish real estate. It’s important to reiterate that this is a draft proposal and not a current provision, however, the proposal would permit foreigners who invest in qualifying real estate in Madrid to receive a tax credit equal to 20% of the acquisition value. The tax credit would be able to be taken from the first year of investment or within the following five years.
VAT in Spain
According to Wise, the standard VAT rate in Spain is 21%. This figure applies to most goods and services. The two reduced VAT rates are 10% and 4%. Spain also has some zero-rated goods, the sale of which must still be reported on your VAT return, even though no VAT is charged.6
Do American digital nomads in Spain have to pay US taxes?
Yes. America’s tax system requires all citizens and permanent residents to file a federal tax return (provided that they meet the minimum income reporting threshold) regardless of where in the world they live.
Expat tax provisions for Americans filing US taxes in Spain
Moving abroad may complicate your taxes and can feel overwhelming to navigate. Below are some of the additional reporting obligations tax breaks expats should read up on.
Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE)
The FEIE allows you to exclude a certain amount of foreign-earned income from taxation ($112,000 for tax year 2022, $120,000 for tax year 2023). There are certain tests that you must pass in order to qualify, though.
Foreign Tax Credit (FTC)
The FTC allows you to subtract what you pay in income taxes to a foreign government from what you owe the US government in income taxes.
Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR)
If you have $10,000 or more in foreign bank accounts at any point in the year, you’ll need to report the contents of those accounts to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
Child Tax Credit (CTC)
If you have qualifying dependents living with you in Spain, you can file the CTC just as you would in the US to get as much as $2,000 in partially-refundable credits.
Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)
- Ley de Startups
- Background – Startups Law
- Where to live in Spain as an expat
- Beckham’s Law
- Spain Digital Nomad Visa Eligibility
- VAT rates in Spain
Disclosure: Some of the links on this website may be affiliate links, which means that we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase or take any action through those links. We only recommend products and services that we have personally used or thoroughly researched. Your support through these affiliate links helps us continue to provide valuable expat tax services. Thank you for your support!