Setting up a company in Spain requires a number of applications and registrations that will vary depending on the type of business being set up and the people involved. The first questions are what type of business is being set up and what is your immigration status. Once these two things are sorted out, you must register with tax and regulatory authorities.
Setting up an Autónomo
First, you will need to decide what type of business you hope to set up. There are generally two types of businesses that most people choose to start. The first is called an Autónomo. This is a self-employed business that operates much like a sol-proprietorship. If you are neither a Spanish citizen nor a citizen of another EU country, you will need to obtain a work permit visa. If you already have Spanish residence, you may need to convert your visa to one that allows you to work in Spain. Additionally, you will need to obtain a national identification number or NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero). This number will be important when registering with the various authorities.
The other essential steps will be opening a Spanish bank account and obtaining an electronic signature. A bank account will allow you to prove your ability to support yourself and do business and is a prerequisite for other registrations. Registering an electronic signature will also be essential for doing business as it allows you to conduct certain functions online. This is more than a convenience as it is often a requirement for doing business in Spain.
Once you have obtained all of the above, you will need to register with the tax authorities or Hacienda. There, you will fill out a form 036 or 037. This will render you liable for both VAT (called IVA in Spain) and income taxes. Before proceeding to the last step, you will want to register your businesses address with the census authorities or padrón. With all of that done, the final step is registering with social security. Autónomos have a separate social security called RETA (régimen especial para trabajadores autónomos). This registration is the last step in setting up your self-employment business.
Setting up a Limited Company
The second type of business that most people opt for is a limited company or Sociedad Limitada. This type of business operates much more like a corporation or limited liability company. The beginning steps are similar. Partners in a limited company will need to obtain a NIE. However, they do not necessarily need to obtain a work permit visa.
As with self-employment businesses, limited companies will need to obtain an electronic signature and open a bank account. There is however a minimum capital requirement. This means you would need to deposit a minimum of €3000. In addition to these familiar steps, you will need to register the company name, register each non-resident partner register with the tax authorities, and obtain a tax identification number of CIF for the company.
Once these preliminary steps are completed, you will need to draft the company’s deed of incorporation and sign it before a notary in Spain. Once this step is completed, you can register the company with Spain’s central company registry (Registro Mercantil) as well as with social security. As setting up a limited company is more involved, many people opt to establish a power of attorney, which allows a representative, such as a lawyer, to carry out many of these steps for you.