How to Become a Contractor in Spain

Spain enjoys significant sunshine, tapas, and a currently growing construction industry. COVID-19 pauses in the sector have dissipated and contractor work is on the rise.

To become a contractor in Spain yourself, you will need to establish a legal business and register it within your community on the Registro de Empresas Acreditadas – Registry of Accredited Businesses (REA). You will also need to apply for any required construction licenses within your community.

Do You Need a Contractor’s License in Spain?

Instead of national licensing, Spain requires national registration of all contracting and subcontracting businesses. This includes general contractors and specialty contracting work. 

Independent contractors cannot register on the REA, but they will be employed by a business that is.

REA registration has a general set of requirements, but it is handled independently by each autonomous community, which is similar to a state in the U.S. 

In addition to national registration, each community has different regulations regarding required licenses for construction. You will need to contact your community’s Ministry of Employment (Consejeria de Empleo) to find out more about local contractor requirements. 

Establishing a Contracting Company in Spain

To begin your contracting business and register on the REA in Spain, you’ll need to:

  • Possess legal working rights
  • Register your company name
  • Get a tax ID number
  • Open a business bank account
  • Sign a deed of incorporation
  • Register for Social Security
  1. Legal Working Rights for Contractors

Before forming a contracting business in Spain, you’ll need to have the right to work in the country. If you are a foreigner looking to begin a business in Spain, you’ll first need to get a foreigner’s tax identification number (NIE). 

Business owners from abroad may be required to show proof of funds, their business plan, work experience and proof of adequate skills, and to describe how their company could create Spanish jobs or stimulate the Spanish economy.

NIEs are renewed every year, and after 5 years you can apply for resident status in Spain to replace your NIE.

You may use this general guide for more information, but it’s recommended to speak with someone at the Extranjeria – Foreigner’s Office or hire an immigration lawyer to expedite the process.

  1. Register Your Company Name

Once you can legally work in Spain, you can begin to form your company. You’ll need to choose from a Sociedad Limitada Unipersonal – sole proprietorship limited company (SLU), Sociedad de responsabilidad limitada – limited liability company (SL), or a sociedad anonima – public limited company (SA). 

You will need to create active bylaws that reflect the basic information of your company, including how capital is managed, the organizational structure, and how compensation is distributed.

You’ll then need to find your nearest Registro Mercantil CentralCentral Mercantile Registry office to legally register your business name and details. This will ensure there are no other businesses with your name and give you a certificate as proof.

Once your name is confirmed, you can officially register it within your province. You will receive another certificate once this is complete. 

  1. Get a Tax ID for Your Contracting Business

Your business will need a Numero de Identificacion FiscalTax ID Number (NIF) to accept payments and pay taxes for contracted work. You will need to fill out Form 036, which can be submitted electronically at the Tax Agency. 

The Tax Agency will then send you a provisional NIF to use while waiting for your final NIF and they will request your business’s articles of incorporation. Once submitted, you will receive your permanent NIF within six months. 

  1. Open a Business Bank Account

If you have your NIF and registered business name, you’re well on your way to contracting work in Spain. If you want to get paid, however, you’ll need to open up your official business bank account first. 

Depending on the type of company you have, you’ll be required to have a minimum balance in the business account. SLUs will need €3,000, SAs will need €60,000, and SLs will need between €1,500-€3,000 depending on the type of contract work they will undertake.

  1. Sign a Deed of Incorporation

One of the final steps to confirming your contracting business is to sign the escritura publica – deed of incorporation in front of a public notary in Spain. To do so, you’ll need to bring your business bylaws, the certificate of your company name, and a bank certification. Additional documents may be required depending on your business structure.

  1. Register for Social Security

The final step is to register with the Registro Mercantil – Mercantile Registry. This registry lists all legal businesses in Spain and allows for things like Social Security payments and other legal procedures for companies.

You will also need to register for the Impuesto sobre Actividades EconomicasTax on Economic Activities with the Tax Agency.

Registering Your Contracting Company with REA

The REA is managed by each autonomous community, so you will need to find your community’s official REA page to register. You can do so by searching for “El Registro de Empresas Acreditadas en your community’s name here” and adhering to official government pages. 

Some links to the most populous communities are included below:

Registration can be done online or in person. Online registration can only be done if the person applying on behalf of the company has a certificado digital, which is a personalized online signature to confirm online applications with the Spanish government.  

All companies will need to prove that they have preventative training and organization to evade occupational risks associated with construction work. They will also submit their business information, NIF, business registration, and any additional documents requested by their community. 

Once your application is approved, you will receive a certificate of registration that can be presented for all of your contracted projects. This proves you are completing contracting work legally within the community and country.

Contractor Registration Renewals

REA renewals are determined by each autonomous community. Most are renewed annually or every 3 years. Visit your community’s REA page for more details.

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