Spain: providing services and travelling for business

Guidance for UK businesses on rules for selling services to Spain.

The authoritative source for Spanish market regulations is the Spanish government. This guidance links to official Spanish sources wherever possible.

Trade and services regulations in Spain

If you’re a UK business providing services in Spain, you will need to follow Spanish regulations about:

  • getting authorisations or licences to provide a service
  • complying with specific local business regulations
  • EEA nationality requirements which could prevent you from providing services in some sectors

The Spanish e-government portal for service providers can help you to:

  • find out what you need to know about providing services in Spain
  • understand local regulations
  • complete the relevant administrative procedures online

Consider appointing an English-speaking lawyer in Spain to help you comply with specific regulations.

To find out if EEA nationality requirements apply to you, contact the appropriate competent authority.

If you have complaints or queries about anti-competitive practices contact the Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia (site in Spanish).

There are also non-governmental organisations that provide advice to UK businesses operating in Spain, for example the British Chamber of Commerce in Spain.

These organisations and their views are not associated with the UK government.

Trade reservations

To sell or provide services to customers in Spain, you must follow local laws. If in doubt, you should get professional advice.

Reservations are part of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. They reserve the right of each party to keep or make new laws restricting investment, or the sale of services, in ways that would otherwise breach the rules in the agreement.

Check which reservations apply to the sale of services from the UK to Spain. This includes an interactive tool to find reservations that are already in place.

VAT on sales of digital services

To use the UK’s VAT Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS) to declare sales of digital services to EU consumers, businesses need to register for MOSS in an EU member state.

Find out more about paying VAT on sales of digital services.

Ownership of companies registered in Spain

If you have a UK business, you might face restrictions on your ability to own, manage or direct a registered company in Spain or any other EEA country.

Read more about this in our guidance relating to the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Setting up a business

You can find out how to set up a business in Spain on these websites:

UK legal professionals who have investments in law firms in Spain should contact the General Council of the Spanish Bar (site in Spanish) for information on the implications for your investment.

Business travel and entry requirements

UK business travellers and service providers may need a visa, work permit or other documentation.

Check our travel to Spain for work guide for detailed information on:

  • types of visa and work permit routes available
  • exemptions that may apply to you or the activity you are planning to undertake

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation and Spanish Ministry of Work, Migration and Social Security (site in Spanish) websites have more information about:

  • visas including intra-corporate transfers
  • work and residence permits
  • supporting documentation
  • other conditions

Check which actions travellers visiting Europe need to take.

Social security payments for employees

Find out if you need to pay National Insurance in the UK or social security contributions in Spain.

Recognition of professional qualifications

To check what you need to do in Spain, read our guidance on professional qualifications in the EEA and Switzerland.

If you need to take action to secure the recognition of your professional qualification in Spain, these sources can help you:

For educational or professional recognition in Spain you must get UK educational documents certified and legalised.

UK statutory auditors working in Spain

For UK statutory auditors, the Instituto de Contabilidad y Auditoría de Cuentas Spain (site in Spanish) should be able to provide further information.

UK lawyers working in Spain

If you’re a UK-qualified lawyer working in Spain, using either a Spanish or UK professional title, you should contact the local Bar association in the region in which you are working or the General Council of the Spanish Bar (site in Spanish) for advice.

Data transfer and GDPR

On 28 June 2021, the EU formally adopted ‘adequacy decisions’ for the UK, delivered through:

‘Adequacy decisions’ allow for the ongoing free flow of personal data from the EU/EEA to the UK.

Read guidance on using data in your personal business or other organisation.

Published 14 March 2019
Last updated 29 December 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated information on requirements for certification and legalisation of UK educational documents for use in Spain in 'Recognition of professional qualifications' section.

  2. Update of recognition of professional qualifications section.

  3. Removed 'Movement of goods and living in Spain' section

  4. Added 'Trade reservations' guidance. Updated 'Recognition of professional qualifications' with new UK contact point.

  5. Updated the Business travel and entry requirements section to include a link to guidance on travelling to Spain for work.

  6. Updated the following sections to reflect the changes created by the UK and EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement: overview, trade regulations, VAT on sales of digital services, business travel and entry requirements, social security payments for employees, recognition of professional qualifications, and data transfer and GDPR.

  7. Guidance for ‘Recognition of professional qualifications’ and ‘Social security payments for employees’ updated.

  8. Change to title to include travelling for business

  9. Update to 'Business travel and entry requirements' section

  10. First published.