Assessing travel and visa obligations in Spain

When traveling to Spain, your nationality and the types of activities you will conduct during your trip will determine whether you may travel lawfully as a business visitor or if you require work authorization. Please seek advice from your immigration counsel if you are uncertain about the specific types of activities that constitute business or work.

Traveling for business

What types of activities may I engage in as a business visitor?

As a business visitor to Spain, you may engage in the activities below. While this list is not exhaustive and other activities could qualify as business, you may:

  • Attend business meetings
  • Attend seminars or fact-finding meetings
  • Attend conferences or workshops
  • Attend trade shows


If I qualify as a business visitor, do I need a visa for Spain?

Nationals of the European Union, United States, and many other select countries are eligible for a visa waiver and are not required to obtain a visa in order to enter and conduct business activities in Spain.

Spain is a member of the Schengen Area, a free-travel zone comprised of 29 European countries. If your nationality is not eligible for a visa waiver in the Schengen Area, you will be required to obtain a Schengen C Visa prior to travel. Visa-waivered nationals, as well as those who are required to obtain a visa, are authorized to travel to Spain and throughout the Schengen Area. Please note that travelers may not spend more than 90 days within any 180-day period inside the Schengen Area.

Working in Spain

What types of activities require work authorization?

The activities below, whether paid or unpaid, generally constitute work under Spanish law. This list is not exhaustive, and many other professional activities are considered work in Spain, even if conducted for a short duration.

  • System installation
  • Marketing plan development
  • Managerial oversight


If I am traveling to Spain for work, what type of work authorization do I need?

The requirements for work authorization depend on your qualifications, on the nature and duration of your work and on whether your employer has an entity in Spain. Work authorization is granted under either the Entrepreneurs Act or the General Immigration Framework. Permits issued under the Entrepreneurs Act are subject to a streamlined immigration process; those ineligible under the Entrepreneurs Act must apply through the General Immigration Framework. The most common forms of work authorization in Spain issued under these categories are:

Entrepreneurs Act:

  • Residence Permit for Highly Qualified Professionals (highly skilled work authorization for local hires)
  • EU Intra-Company Transfer Residence Permit (ICT work authorization for temporary transfers of managers, specialists or trainees)
  • National Intra-Company Transfer Residence Permit (ICT work authorization for situations in which the EU ICT requirements are not met)

General Immigration Framework:

  • EU Blue Card (highly skilled work authorization for local hires)
  • Work and Residence Permit for the Provision of Transnational Services (ICT work authorization)
  • Work and Residence Permit as an Employee (direct-hire work authorization)


Is it possible to be exempted from work authorization requirements?

Nationals from the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland are not required to obtain work authorization in order to work in Spain. However, registrations or other formalities may be required prior to working or residing in Spain.

Additional work authorization exemptions are available in Spain for certain occupations and activities, as well as under Vander Elst (also called Van der Elst) rules. In this case, a legal assessment to determine the possibilities for a work authorization exemption should be obtained prior to traveling.

What else should I know?

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), which governs post-Brexit relations between the EU and the U.K., has altered immigration regulations in the affected countries. Please be sure to contact your immigration representative for full details regarding the TCA’s impact in Spain.

Inevitably, the legal and strategic considerations impacting visa selection, as well as visa waiver and work authorization eligibility, entail the careful consideration of many factors. We recommend that you consult with your immigration counsel before taking any course of action.


Copyright ©2024 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. Government immigration agencies often change their policies and practices without notice; please consult an immigration professional for up-to-date information. This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. BAL maintains comprehensive immigration information and processing specifics for our clients.