Employment and pensions

What's new in the Startup Law in labour matters?

Published on 30th Dec 2022

Main keys and requirements of the new visa for "digital nomads"

The Official State Gazette has published (22 December 2022), the Law for the promotion of the startup ecosystem, known as the "Startup Law", regulating for the first time a new visa for "digital nomads".

The aim of the regulation is to attract qualified personnel, to promote talent and international investment, and to boost digital entrepreneurship.

Definition of "Digital Nomad"

"Digital nomads" are third-country nationals who work remotely on a freelance basis or for companies operating outside Spain. They can belong to any type of sector and company, provided they are professionals with a highly qualified profile.

Type of activity

When applying for a visa or authorization, foreign professionals must distinguish whether the activity they are going to carry out in Spain is work-related or professional.

  • If it is an employment activity, they may only work for companies operating outside Spain.
  • If it is a self-employment activity, they may provide services for a company located in Spain, as long as the percentage of these services does not exceed 20% of their total professional activity.

Applicant profile

Applicants must be qualified professionals with one of the following qualifications:

  • Undergraduate or Postgraduate degree from universities of recognized prestige;
  • Degrees from professional training and business schools of recognized prestige; or
  • Have at least 3 years of professional experience.


In addition to the general requirements to apply for the stay or residence contemplated in art. 62 of Law 14/2013, of 27 September, on support for entrepreneurs and their internationalization, the following conditions must be accredited:

  • The existence of a real and continuous activity for at least 1 year of the company or group of companies with which the professional has an employment or professional relationship.
  • The possibility of the employment or professional relationship being carried out at a distance.
  • In the case of an employment relationship, the existence of the same between the employee and the company not located in Spain for at least the last 3 months prior to the submission of the application, as well as the consent of the company to the employee to carry out the work on a remote basis.
  • In the case of a professional relationship, the existence of a business relationship between the professional and one or more companies not located in Spain for at least the last 3 months, as well as the terms under which the professional is going to provide the services remotely.

Ways to reside in Spain: visa and residence authorization

International teleworkers who intend to reside in Spain for a period not exceeding 1 year may apply for a remote work visa at the Spanish Consular offices.

In addition, within 60 calendar days before the expiry of the visa, they may apply for a residence permit, provided that the requirements stated above are met.

On the other hand, those who intend to reside in Spain for a longer period may apply for a residence permit with a maximum validity of 3 years. The authorization may be renewed for periods of 2 years, and permanent residence may be obtained after 5 years, provided that the above mentioned requirements are maintained.

This regulation finally makes it possible to regularize a multitude of international remote work situations which, until now, were lacking legal coverage. However, the law also leaves many questions open by referring part of its content to a future regulatory development that has not yet taken place.
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* This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation.

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