Spain's Digital Nomad Visa Has Arrived

We have been waiting all year for Spain's Digital Nomad visa to see the light of day and to look into the details as we have a list of potential clients looking to move from certain other countries which might be basket cases at the moment (Yes, once again the UK we are looking at you) and wanting to come to Spain on the new Spanish Digital Nomad Visa.

Now the Digital Nomad Visa is part of a package of measures in Spain's new start-up law and finally this week the government announced the details of that law so today we are looking into what it means for those of you looking to come to Spain on the new digital nomad visa. There are couple of details still to be ironed out (We will update this post as and when those details come out) but following is what we know up to now.

Why Does Spain Want a Digital Nomad Visa?

In a world where you can work from anywhere then the opinion in Spain is that lots of people would love to have that "anywhere" being Spain. As the world of work changes and there are fewer people tied to their workplaces by proximity it makes logical sense that people look to better places to live in order to maximise their lifestyle quota. After all why live in a ridiculously expensive bedsit in a depressing borough on the outskirts of London suffering from Brexit syndrome when you can live close to the Mediterranean in an exciting city with easy access to stunning countryside. When you worked down the coal mine then you needed to live near the pithead. The world has changed and if your job is managing online communications between remote wind turbines and solar panels and the grid (I suppose that is today's equivalent of the pithead right?) then there is no need to live under the turbine or panels.

Equally, when your work only depends on the speed of your internet connection it makes sense to be somewhere with excellent fibre communications to the rest of the World and reliable physical communications for those times you do need to travel and visit others for your "once in a blue moon" meetups. (This of course doesn't apply in previously remote teams like those at Twitter whose new owner is basically a self-reverential idiot).

Also, and this cannot be overstated, digital workers earn money and pay taxes and Spain doesn't want the social security system and pension pots to only be funded by those with a physical workplace in Spain. If digital nomads come to Spain and pay into the system here then the amount the government receives increases also.

Now it's true that there are many other countries with Digital Nomad visas, for example Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Malta and Portugal already offer a Digital Nomad visa in some form or other, Spain is quite late to the party. And it may be that some of those Digital Nomad visas are even more attractive than Spain's in terms of the advantages they give you, but as a company dealing with a huge list of people waiting for the chance to come to live and work in Spain we know that Spain is one of the first options or many people and ANY digital nomad visa was going to be well received as it gives people the opportunity to come and live and work in Spain.

Who Does Spain Consider A Digital Nomad?

Spain describes digital nomads as follows in the law "People whose jobs allow them to work remotely and change residence regularly". You will also need to prove that your employer will allow you to work from Spain, more of that later.

The Details

The first thing to note is that the name is wrong. It shouldn't be the digital nomad visa, it should be the "Remote Worker Visa" as Spain doesn't want just digital nomads visiting for three months and then leaving for Chiang Mai, Salvador de Allande, Berlin or Buenos Aires. What Spain wants is people who work internationally basing themselves long term in Spain and paying their taxes here whether they be income taxes, VAT on goods and services and more.

The second thing to note is that it will be relatively stress free to apply for and get the Digital Nomad Visa approved... apparently. Yeah right. I've never known any visa process to be easy but the idea is to keep people away from long winded and costly paper trails in order to get the visa.

There will be a requirement to earn a certain amount per month and to be able to prove it. This is expected to be around 2000 Euros pcm but the required amount has still not been announced. You will need to prove that you have been receiving this income from your employer or your freelance contracts for at least a year prior to your application. You will also need to prove that any contractors will allow you to carry out your work remotely in Spain (or any other country outside the place where the employer is located). Take a look at the potential downsides below for more on this requirement.

The majority of the income needs to come from foreign contracts and companies. A maximum of 20% of it can be earned from Spanish clients. Obviously being in Spain means that many freelancers may be tempted to offer their services to Spanish companies too but when it comes to the renewal process for the visa this might put you over the 20% threshold so keep offering those services outside of Spain.

There is a likelihood that private health insurance will be required. However as most digital nomad types are younger this cost will not be too onerous so do not expect to have to pay too much for this. You can get a quote for Spanish private health insurance at this link.

The tax rate for those on the digital nomad visa is likely to be 15% if the digital nomad visa holder spends under 183 days in Spain during the first year of their visa. (This compares favourably to the non resident tax rate of 24% currently in place). You will be allowed to stay more than 183 days though and we expect this to be the norm for the majority of our clients wanting this visa, and the tax rate will also be 15% under the law for the first four years.

The visa will initially be granted for a year with a two year extension allowed and then another two year extension up to a maximum of five years.

Families will be able to accompany the digital nomad visa holder and it is thought that the requirements for this will be similar to the non-lucrative visa holders with an extra amount added to the minimum requirement of income for each accompanying family member.

It is thought that the digital nomad visa may also provide a route to more permanent residency at the end of the five year period for those wishing to continue living in Spain after this period. However, that step and how it will be actioned has still not been announced.

One unknown still is where you will apply for the visa. Will it be in your country of origin like the current Non-Lucrative visa or will you be able to apply for it once already in Spain like the Golden Visa? One of the requirements will be that you should be able to show a residency where you are living or going to live in Spain so the suspicion is that it will be something you apply for while here for the 90 day period currently allowed.

Potential Problems With the New Visa

As we reported last week there is a huge problem in the rental market at the moment and we think many of the potential visa holders will be looking to rent this will exacerbate the problem. Equally, it is likely that the digital nomads coming into Spain will earn wages above the average for Spain and therefore are likely to push rental prices higher as they will be willing to pay higher prices for good places. This will be problematic as reported in the i newspaper this week via Graham Keeley.

Luckily for us and the market, we already know of plenty of digital nomads planning to buy in Valencia rather than renting as they will not be "nomading about" they want to base themselves in Valencia. Many of them have intimated they may be buying more than one place in order to have a place to rent to the expected numbers of digital nomads attracted into Spain by the new visa.

It may be that some people will not get their residency as their employer may not want to give a confirmation that the potential digital nomad can work from Spain and here we uncover one of those little secrets of the digital nomad community as described by Tim Ferriss in his ground-breaking work "The Four Hour Workweek", many employers do not know that their employees gallivant around the World working. They think they are just down the road. It's easy to hide your tracks until a government requires a confirmation letter. Nevertheless, "The Four Hour Workweek" was written and released in 2007 when things were very different. Post-pandemic many more companies are willing to let their workers do their jobs from anywhere in the World. As long as the work is done, they are happy.

Some political parties have voted against the law in parliament stating that it doesn't go far enough to attract "talent" into Spain. Most of these complaints are about the Start-Up law that encompasses the Digtal Nomad Visa legislation so aren't too worrying from our point of view and there is always scope for extension of the conditions further down the line. All political parties except the Fascists of Vox were in support of the basis of the law.

So that's what we know for now. Maybe bookmark this article (Remember bookmarking?) and come back to it as we will update the article regularly as things get even clearer. It looks like the visa will be available from January 2023 so get things ready now if interested and then we will work with you to find your residence here in Valencia.

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