Permission to reside and work

The right to work does not apply to every foreigner in Spain. In order to work legally, each foreigner must be granted permission to work by the administration.

In accordance with current legislation, there are different ways of acquiring permission to work in Spain:


Authorisation to reside and to be an employee.

Procedure for obtaining authorisation to reside and work through the presentation of employment offers by employers in Spain to a person residing in their country of origin.

It can be applied for by an employer in Spain at the office for Foreign Nationals or the Work Department of the Government Delegation in the area in which the working activity will be carried out.


  • That the national employment situation allows for the recruitment of foreign workers.
  • That continuous activity is guaranteed during the term of the authorisation.
  • That the company has registered correctly with the Social Security Office and that it complies with its tax and social security obligations.
  • That the conditions set out in the employment offer are in compliance with that of of the established regulations for the activity, professional category and area.
  • That if required, the worker has validated qualifications or can present poof of ability to carry out the job.
  • That the foreign worker has no criminal record in Spain and in the countries of previous residence.
  • That the worker is not in an illegal situation on Spanish territory.

In the period of one month from the granting of permission to reside and work in Spain, the worker should apply personally for a visa at the diplomatic mission or consulate office where they reside.

To work in Spain a Residence and Work Visa is required. Application for a Work Permit will be refused if the foreign person does not have legal status in Spain.

  • Visas can be applied for at the Spanish diplomatic missions or at the Spanish consulates in the country of origin and under exceptional circumstances in other foreign countries. The visa application is personal.

Freelance work permits

Applicants must meet all the requirements laid down by Spanish law to set up a company or to be self-employed or as a free-lance professional. Information is available in the Companies section of Lanbide.

Applicants must request authorisation in their country of origin. The validity periods are similar to permits issued to those working for third parties.


Foreigners should apply for Residence and Work Permits at the appropriate Spanish diplomatic mission or Spanish consulate in their country.


Regulated procedure for foreigners not resident in Spain to obtain a residence and work permit to be employed in an activity that the Government has previously ruled requires foreign labour. (Otherwise known as the QUOTA SYSTEM). (Through the Quota System, a maximum number of work permits for foreign workers can be obtained. This quota is determined annually and distributed by sectors and geographical areas so that those jobs not taken up by the employment market are filled. In this procedure the offers are generic and aimed at countries with which Spain has some kind of agreement on this issue. This section also includes three month Visas for job seekers. These specific visas for job seekers are also aimed at children/grandchildren of Spanish nationals.)

EXTRAORDINARY REGULARIZATION (the last one was in 2005)

Exceptional Procedures that take allow a foreigner who has illegal status in Spain to obtain a residence and work permit without having to return to their country of origin to apply for a visa.


People with permits to stay for the purpose of study, (in particular circumstances and when the job is compatible with studying) can apply for a temporary residence permit and a work permit as an employee within the three months previous to the expiry date of this permit to stay for the purpose of study.)

There are different circumstances under which foreigners legally residing in Spain and without authorisation to work will be dealt with differently when applying for permission to work according to the particular situation in which they find themselves. These circumstances are the following:

  • Foreigners with a student card
  • Foreigners with a temporary residence permit due to exceptional circumstances
  • Asylum applicants
  • Foreigners with a temporary residence permit due to family regrouping
  • Foreigners with a temporary residence permit
  • Foreigners with temporary permission to stay

Types of third party work permits

There are three types of third party work permits:

  • Initial. This is valid for one year, and is restricted to a single province and sector.
  • Renewal. This is valid for two years, with no restrictions as to province and sector, and is a renewal of the previous permit.
  • Renewal of the previous permit for two years. A permanent Spanish Residence and Work Permit may then be obtained.

Applications for renewal extend the permit currently held until proceedings have been completed. If the Authorities do not complete proceedings within three months, the permit exists, and the foreign national has the right to request renewal by default.

If you are a holder of a Residence Permit on the basis of social ties you are also entitled to a Work Permit for the duration of your Residence Permit.

In the other cases of exceptional circumstances, the foreign person can apply personallly for the corresponding permission to work.

On the other hand, a foreigner who has been residing legally for at least one year can achive legal residence and work if an emloyer presents an application for this foreign person to reside and work.

The exception to this case is a Residence Permit granted on the basis of family regrouping (not applicable to minors under 16 years of age); in this case a work permit can be acquired on the presentation of a work offer from an employer even if the year previouly stipulated has not passed.


Work offers should be sent to the Foreign Nationals Office of the Basque Country or to the corresponding Work Departments of the Government Delegation:

(Foreign nationals who do not reside in Spain should apply for the Residence and Work Visa at the Spanish diplomatic mission in their country of origin).

Fecha de la última modificación: 10/09/2010