Working in Spain

Thanks to European Union laws, any EU citizen may live and work freely in another EU country, which means that there are now many more people considering working in Spain.

However, relocation is a big decision and, needless to say, it’s not a good idea to just pack up your belongings, hop on a plane and hope for the best, especially if you need to earn a living. Good preparation and research, along with the right kind of support and advice are the key ingredients to smooth your path to success in your new life and new career.

Be prepared

Ian Hancock, a partner at Recruit Gibraltar a well-known recruitment agency near the Costa del Sol stresses the importance of good preparation. “There’s plenty to think about before you even leave the UK,” he says. “Forward your CV to an agency as early as possible. Remember things like healthcare – before you can be treated in Spain, you’ll need to produce a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC, known in Spain as a Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea) which has replaced the former E111 form and which you can use temporarily until you register with the Spanish Social Security system.”. “You should also open a bank account and, my number-one tip, learn some rudimentary Spanish!”


It’s a good idea to spend some time here on a research trip, especially if you don’t know the area well. A prospective employer would expect you to be fairly familiar with the area. At the same time you can find out about reputable recruitment agencies, go and visit them to get some advice about CV presentation.

The Paperwork

Once you arrive in Spain, you must make sure you’re legally employable,” says Ian Hancock, “the first thing is to get hold of is a Foreigner’s Identification number, which is required for all kinds of transactions and official business in Spain, including getting a job.” This number is called an NIE (which stands for Número de Identificacíon de Extranjero). Go to your local National Police station as soon as you arrive and complete an application form. You’ll need your passport and a photocopy, proof of residence (such as your rental or sales contract) and plenty of passport size photographs.

Finances and working day

One of the most important things to remember is to bring enough money to live on for several months as it may take a while until you find the right job. It’s important that you’re financially secure so that you can do your job-hunting without any financial pressure. If you’re wondering what it’s really like working in Spain, well that depends very much on your employer and whether the company is an international one or a Spanish one. If it’s the latter, you’ll usually work from around 9.00 to 1.30pm and then have a long break in the middle of the day, starting again around 4.30pm and working until between 7.00 and 8.00pm. If you’re working for an international company you’re more likely to work the kind of hours you’re used to. Ian Hancock says, “Those looking for an easy ride, take note – Spanish employees work just as hard as their UK counterparts, they just do so in different ways – forget about mañana! Salaries aren’t usually as high as in the UK, but the cost of living is comparatively low and so that balances things out.

More British businesses relocate to Spain

And if any more evidence were needed that an increasing number of businesses are relocating to Andalucía, then the news that the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) has just set up a Committee in Andalucía, is surely it. Only recently set up to meet the needs of the local expatriate business community, its President, Laura Stanbridge, said that Andalucía was considered one of the most important regions for British businesses and that in 2006 more than 47,000 Britons moved to Spain, many of whom entered the Andalucian business community. The BCC provides a means for its members to communicate with local and regional government organisations. It’s already attracted more than 70 high profile members in the region.

It’s also important to note that Gibraltar is just a stone’s throw from the Costa del Sol, and many residents of the nearby areas such as Sotogrande and Estepona, commute over the frontier to work in Gibraltar. Salaries tend to be a little higher in Gibraltar, and you can find many well-known British companies based there too.

So what are you waiting for? Get that CV sent out to as many recruitment agencies as possible. Many of them, like Recruit Spain, have lots of useful information on their websites, and allow you to post your CV for viewing by prospective employers. Good luck!