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For the purposes of this guide, by “work”, we mean working in paid employment in Spain. This does not include coming to Spain for business purposes (e.g. meeting clients or to discuss business opportunities). For that, see below.
If you live in an EU country, you need no visa or permit to come to Spain to work.
In all other cases, to come to Spain for short-term employment (meaning less than one year) you need a short-term work visa.
This must be obtained, in advance, from the Consulate of Spain nearest to where you live.
To apply for a visa you must have a written offer of employment (such as short term contract, training contract, or management contract).
Whether it is easy or impossible to obtain such a visa depends upon what you want to do by way of work and where you want to do it.
It is relatively easy to obtain short-term visas to work in areas where there is a labour shortage. This includes harvesting olives during the short harvest period, from mid-September to mid-October.
Short-term visas for office work in Spain are extremely hard to obtain.
The national employment department must specifically allow the foreign worker to be hired, or there must be proof of the worker being in certain circumstances. See this web page (in English) for more details.
Coming to Spain to do business
People wishing to visit Spain to meet clients and/or discuss business are allowed to do so as tourists. See our Guide to Coming to Spain as a Tourist.
Causes for refusing entry to Spain
The following are causes for refusing entry:
- Having previously been expelled or deported by Spain or another Schengen State
- Having been expressly denied entry for “activities contrary to the interests of Spain”, activities against human rights, or for notorious connections with criminal organisations
- Being wanted internationally for criminal reasons
- Being considered a threat to the public health, public order, national security, or international relations of Spain, or of other States with which Spain has agreements in this regard
- Having already stayed in Spain for three months during a six-month period
How long does it take?
Depending on the country you come from, the Spanish Consulate may take just a few days or up to about one month to deal with the paperwork.
Coming to Spain as a short-term worker is seldom a simple process but it is not impossible.