Spain Guide


spain 650530 1920

Jobs in Spain

Thousands of British nationals and other foreigners have been able to find a job in Spain but be warned that it's not an easy task. Unemployment is high and you normally find a scrum of well qualified people competing for even the most low paid jobs. The lucky few are able to secure employment before arriving in Spain but those are the exceptions.

Under Council of Europe regulations introduced in 1992, EU citizens are theoretically allowed to compete for jobs on the same terms as Spanish nationals. All you have to do is register as a job seeker with the National Institute of Employment / Instituto Nacional de Empleo (INEM) just as Spaniards do. You'll have 90 days in which to find work after that you must either apply for a residence permit, leave the country and re enter for another 90 days or apply to the police for a 90 day extension while you continue your search for work. Strictly speaking you should apply for "residencia" within two weeks of arriving in the country if your intention to is live permanently in Spain. Few people do.

In reality, hundreds of thousands of foreigners live and work in Spain without ever applying for residencia or registering with INEM. But if you plan to join them, be aware that you face a hefty fine and expulsion from the country if you're caught out. The authorities tend to turn a blind eye to "illegal" EU nationals but immigrants from non European countries face a tougher time if they're caught working without the necessary permits.

Despite the EU's equal opportunity ruling, let's face it if you don't speak good Spanish you're unlikely to get a job with a Spanish firm whose customer base is primarily Spanish. If you speak two or more of the main European languages your job opportunities will increase dramatically, especially in the coastal areas which attract international tourists and ex patriate residents.

Estate agents, bar and restaurant owners, hoteliers and construction firms along the most popular costas are all keen to employ people with the right qualifications combined with language skills (if you can speak English, Spanish and German you'll go straight to the front of the job queue). The better companies will offer you a contract of employment which you can use to apply for your "tarjeta comunitaria" (the community card which is a combined residence and work permit). The employer will pay social security contributions on your behalf and you will also pay a percentage (deducted at source from your wages). But many companies employ casual staff on the black market; these jobs (often seasonal) are easier to come by but the wages are normally low and of course there's no job security.

If you're lucky enough to secure employment in your native country before arriving in Spain (holiday rep jobs are a popular choice among school leavers) be sure to check some important points before you get on the plane. Is accommodation included in the deal? In which currency and country will your salary be paid? What are the arrangements about working hours, holidays and sick leave? Don't wait until you've arrived in a foreign country with little or no spare cash to find out the answers!

Many non Spanish speaking EU nationals have successfully set up their own businesses in Spain, targeting their fellow countrymen. Doctors, dentists, carpenters, mechanics, builders, hairdressers, accountants and restaurateurs have all found they can make a decent living working in an ex pat environment. The drawback with this is that the self employed have to wade through some complicated Spanish bureaucracy to secure the necessary permits and licences. So if you're planning to go down this route and you don't speak good Spanish, make sure you get a good Spanish speaking professional to help you through the mire an accountant or tax adviser (asesor fiscal as they're known in Spain).