There are lots of associations and organisations who provide advice and information on setting up a business in Spain.
In this article, we provide a list of the main sources you can contact for help.
Bear in mind that you will need to speak Spanish. In some popular resorts on the Costas you may find staff who speak English, but don’t take this as a given.
If you don’t speak Spanish, ask someone who does to go along with you.
Most regional governments run organisations dedicated to helping start-ups and new businesses.
For example, Andalucía Emprende has a network of local offices in Andalusia (including the Costa del Sol and Costa de la Luz). In Valencia (Costa Blanca), the Emprendedores department offers help and information.
Information and advice is free and many run free business courses as well. In some local offices you may also find start-up ‘incubators’, free office premises available for the first three months of a new business.
These official organisations are also good sources of information on grants and subsidies for new businesses. Ask at your local town hall for your nearest branch.
When you register as self-employed or as a company at your local tax office, the staff should provide information on taxation matters. This amount of information you receive may depend on how busy the office is and (unfortunately) also on how helpful the employee is feeling on the day. However, staff are obliged to give information and you may need to politely insist.
Larger councils run departments dedicated to helping locals set up and run businesses.
These are good sources of information on available premises, other local businesses and subsidies and grants. Enquire at your local town hall.
Chambers of Commerce
Most Spanish cities have a cámara de comercio and they are often good sources of information.
This is rarely provided free and you may have to become a member of the chamber of commerce to access it. Foreign chambers of commerce also operate in Spain and there are also organisations set up for specific nationalities doing business in Spain, for example, the British Chamber of Commerce in Spain.
Spain is a country where ‘who you know’ is extremely important when it comes to doing business.
When you start setting up a business in Spain make it one of your top priorities to do as much networking as possible in your local area. Not only will you make some valuable contacts, you’ll discover your competition and make your presence known in your area.
Networking organisations vary from formal set-ups (often with membership fees) to informal clubs.
Attend as many as you can to start with and then decide which suits your business needs best. And don’t be put off by fees – you may make the right contacts and easily off-set the fees in business earnings.
Setting up a business in Spain usually requires some professional help. Ask around for recommendations.
In areas popular with expat residents, you will find English-speaking professionals, but don’t expect this in other parts of Spain. Before you agree to services make sure you understand the fee structure. You may wish to hire one or more of the following:
A gestor – a general expert in Spanish paperwork and bureaucracy. Useful for making applications (so you avoid wasting time in queues) and general knowledge on paperwork.
An accountant – Spanish accountants (contable) are highly qualified and necessary if you set up a company in Spain.
A tax advisor – many Spanish tax advisors (asesor fiscal) also double as accountants.
They are essential for your annual tax returns. If your taxation in Spain also involves income from outside Spain, find a tax advisor who is expert in international tax matters.
Advice from people who have ‘already been there and done it’ can be very useful so you may want to ask around your local community for information.
However, don’t rely on this source because however well-meaning people are, they may not have the right (or up-to- date) facts.
It pays to always consult a professional as well.