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Living and working conditions



Area - 505,990 km2

Population – 46,733,038

Official Language – Spanish


As a citizen of the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you only need to show your valid identity card or passport to enter Spain. You are entitled to remain in the country for three months to find a job or set up as self-employed. If you have still not found a job after three months, you are entitled to stay for longer provided you continue seeking employment.

If your family members are not citizens of the European Union, the EEA or Switzerland, they must apply for a residence card for relatives of EU citizens if they plan to stay in the country with you for more than three months.

Necessary documents

After you arrive in Spain you have a period of three months in which to apply at the Oficina de Extranjeros [Foreign Nationals’ Office] or at a police station for registration in the Registro Central de Extranjeros [Central Register of Foreign Nationals]. You will need to present your valid passport or identity card and pay a fee.  The Office will give you a registration certificate with an NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros) [foreign resident identification number]. This procedure has replaced the former Community resident card system.

For identification purposes, any non-national wishing to pursue any economic, professional or social interests in Spain must have a personal, unique and exclusive NIE [foreign resident identification number]. This number is provided automatically when a person registers at the Foreign Nationals Register, but it may also be applied for separately.  

Persons who are not from Switzerland or an EEA member country require a residence permit to live in Spain. For further information please contact the Spanish embassy in your country of origin or go to the portal of the Secretariat-General for Immigration and Emigration of the Ministry of Employment and Social Security.

Registration in your local area

This formality for proving your residence in Spain is done at the local Ayuntamiento [city/town council]. For this you will need to show the rental contract for your accommodation or your electricity or water bill, etc. as proof of address.

If this is the first time you are working in Spain, you must obtain your own Social Security number. You can arrange this yourself or your employer can do it on your behalf. To do this you must go to the Social Security office with the following documents:

  • application form (TA-1)
  • ID card

You will then be given a Tarjeta de la Seguridad Social [Social Security Card], which you must show at your local health centre so that you can be assigned a doctor and be issued a tarjeta sanitaria [health card].


A good CV, accompanied by a cover letter, is a very important tool when it comes to applying for a job in a company in your sector (speculative application), or responding to a job advertisement. After the publication of a job offer, the first contact between a business and a candidate is the cover letter and CV. The CV is a document which contains the necessary personal and professional information of the candidate, highlighting all the positive and valuable aspects of his/her experience. The purpose of the CV is to obtain a personal interview. Statistics show that 75 % of candidates are rejected on the basis of their CV before the interview phase. The CV has therefore become an advertising tool for job seekers and, as such, is a very important document which must be prepared carefully.


While some companies provide an application form, it is common practice to send a CV and a cover letter, whether in reply to a vacancy notice or as an unsolicited application. 

This is not simply a formality; this is how you present yourself to the company and make a first impression. Unless otherwise indicated, both the letter and CV must be drafted in Spanish on a computer and in A4 format. The letter should be concise and use formal language; avoid using standard letters designed for any type of job offer. Both documents must be directly related to the job opening advertised. 

Cover letter

Drafting a letter in response to an advertisement: 

Read the advertisement or job offer carefully. 

Analyse the company’s needs. What kind of professional are they looking for? 

Tailor your letter accordingly: highlight those aspects of your CV which you think will arouse interest based on the needs of the company that has placed the job offer.

Drafting a letter to be sent on your own initiative (speculative application):

This is for when you send your CV to a business on your own initiative in the hope that it will be taken into account when a vacancy opens up or a new post is created. 

Try to obtain as much information as possible about the company and its needs. 

Find a reason to show why you are interested in working for them. 

Select those aspects of your CV that you think will be of particular interest to the company.


Upper left: sender’s name, surname, address and telephone number. Below, also on the left, the name of the company and the person to whom it is addressed. Lastly, include the place and date of the letter, together with the job reference. 

Salutation: You can use expressions such as ‘Estimado Sr./Sra.’ [Dear Sir/Madam], although it is better to send the letter directly to the person in charge of recruitment. 

Body of the letter: You should explain why you are applying for the job, highlighting the aspects of your CV that make you particularly suitable for that position. It should not simply be a repetition of the information contained in your CV.

Closing: use formal expressions such as: ‘En espera de sus noticias, le saluda atentamente’ [Yours faithfully]. 

Sign the letter and write your name and surname under the signature.

Curriculum Vitae

There is no single template for a CV. For your CV to be effective, adapt it to each job offer, bearing in mind your training and professional career and the details of the specific opening. You may change the order of the sections or paragraphs if this makes the CV more effective. For example, you may put experience before training when you believe that, for a certain job, your experience is more important than your studies.  4 Basic TEMPLATES 

  • Ascending chronological order: if you have little experience, order the dates chronologically, thereby showing positive development. 
  • Descending chronological order: if you have a lot of experience, or if you want to find work similar to that in which you have recently been involved, order the dates from the most recent to the earliest. 
  • Functional: sort the data on the CV according to the professional field if you have worked in two or more sectors which appear to be different or that are not clearly linked to one another. 
  • European: particularly appropriate if you wish to apply for a job in the European Union.

TIPS. Your CV must be done on a computer and be well laid-out, clear and concise. It is best to limit it to two DIN A4 pages. It is not compulsory to attach a photograph, although this may be useful for some jobs. Photocopies of qualifications and certificates are not normally attached (unless expressly requested) as these are usually brought to the interview. Direct language should be used. It is best to keep sentences simple and avoid using acronyms and abbreviations.

In the Spanish business world, companies often only contact candidates who have passed the recruitment or selection stage.


  • Personal details: name, nationality, full address, telephone number (including international dialling code), email address, etc. 
  • Training: include both academic achievements and additional training. Knowledge of foreign languages and IT skills are normally included in a separate paragraph. Regarding academic achievements, focus particularly on qualification(s) relating to the job you are applying for, mentioning the awarding body, place of study and date you obtained your qualification. 
  • Experience: this may be listed in chronological or reverse chronological order, or by professional fields. Provide the name of the company, job title, dates and the tasks performed. 
  • Other information: this section is optional and adaptable. It is used to provide any information which may prove relevant to the job, for example whether you have a driving licence, are willing to travel, etc. References are not normally included, although the expression ‘References provided upon request’ may be used.

Template CVs and advice on how to draft your CV are available on most public employment websites in Spain.

The Europass CV is an alternative to conventional CV templates, particularly when you are seeking a job in another European country. It allows candidates to submit their personal details, skills and qualifications in a standard European format and is available in 22 European languages.


In Spain, selection processes are typically based on interviews and occasionally involve psychometric and/or job-related tests.

In view of the importance of this interview, it is advisable to prepare yourself properly by finding out what the company does and thinking about your abilities, attitudes and the contribution you could make to the company if they were to employ you. The interview may be with just one interviewer or various interviewers at the same time, depending on the company and the position.

PSYCHOMETRIC TESTS. At this point in the selection process, you should realise that the company needs to analyse the individual differences between the various candidates for a job. A test is simply a way of gathering information about a person and psychometric tests are standard instruments that measure abilities, capacities, personality traits, interests, professional values, etc. Seventy-five percent of companies in Spain use psychometric tests in their selection processes. There are two types: aptitude tests and personality tests.

JOB-RELATED TESTS. Job-related tests are used to assess one’s knowledge of a specific profession. These may take the form of exams, technical questionnaires, simulation exercises, etc.

GROUP DYNAMICS. An increasing number of companies are including group exercises in their selection processes. In these role-play exercises, several candidates hold a meeting which is observed by the technical staff in charge of the selection process to assess how each participant behaves at the meeting. They sometimes simulate professional situations and other times dilemmas or even moral issues are raised.

ASSESSMENT CENTRE. The assessment centre is a selection methodology which is being used increasingly by companies. It lasts for one to two days and is used to assess candidates’ skills in a variety of situations that simulate what it would be like to work at that company. It assesses motivation, the ability to work under pressure, verbal and written communication skills, leadership, team work, skills of persuasion, analysis and interpretation of data, etc.


Every worker receives a periodic remuneration in the form of a salary, normally paid monthly.

The employer is empowered to deduct tax and social security contributions that are legally due on workers’ monthly salary. Below are examples of gross and net pay, i.e. before and after the corresponding deductions have been made. 

The following amounts are average wages calculated for a worker under age 65 working a 40-hour week and without taking into account non-standard payments, bonuses or other additional payments. Social security deductions are 6.3 % and in this case the income tax withheld is 10 %. The amount of income tax withheld depends on the worker’s family situation and the duration and type of the work contract.

It is 25 % for workers who are not tax residents, except for farm workers for whom the deduction is 2 %. 


Monthly gross pay

Social Security

Income Tax

Monthly net pay

Waiting staff

EUR 953

EUR 60.51

EUR 95.30

EUR 797.19


EUR 886

EUR 56.26

EUR 88.60

EUR 741.14

Industrial engineer

EUR 2 130

EUR 139.08

EUR 213

EUR 1 777.92

Computer expert

EUR 1 216

EUR 77.26

EUR 121

EUR 1 017.74

Administrative worker

EUR 936

EUR 59.43

EUR 93.60

EUR 782.97

National minimum wage (SMI)

EUR 707.70  735.90



A. Personal Income Tax [Impuesto sobre la Renta de las Personas Físicas – IRPF]: charged on all income obtained from work, professional or business activities, investments and wealth. 

The amount of this tax is determined by the income level reached during the financial year, which coincides with the calendar year, and it is a progressive tax (the higher the income, the higher the percentage of tax, starting from a minimum that is exempt). The obligation to file a tax return starts from EUR 22 000 per year from a single income source (employer).

Income tax returns are filed in May and June of the year following the tax year in question and fines are imposed for failure to file or late filing. 

As a general rule, if you live in Spain for 183 or more days during a given tax year, you will have to declare all your income there, regardless of where you earned it. In determining one's ‘tax residence’, however, other considerations may be taken into account, such as close personal and economic ties, residence of family members, the place where most of the work is performed, etc. You are therefore advised to seek further advice if you are unsure.

If you have worked in Spain for fewer than 183 days and are then going to move to another EEA country, you can request a rebate of a proportion of the deductions made from your salary. To do so, you need to submit form 215 to the Tax Agency, a certificate of residency from the country to which you are moving and a certificate of the deductions made. The deadline for applying for a rebate is four years. 

B. Corporate tax: this is very similar to personal income tax (IRPF) but it applies to legal persons. The current tax rate is 30 % for large businesses and 25 % for smaller businesses (SMEs), but there are also other special rates. 

C. Inheritance and gift tax: levied on goods and services inherited or on gifts made inter vivos.


A. Value added tax (VAT): levied on the supply of goods and services by employers and professionals and on imports. The tax rates are 4 %, 10 % and 21 % depending on the type of goods, and without prejudice to statutory exemptions. 

Property transfer tax and stamp duty: levied on particular transactions and legal and commercial documents, such as the purchase of real estate and taking out mortgages. 

There are also other EXCISE DUTIES, levied on the consumption of particular goods such as alcohol, tobacco and fuel. 

In addition to these national taxes or taxes devolved totally or partially to the Autonomous Communities, other LOCAL TAXES are levied by municipalities, such as property tax and vehicle road tax.

Text last edited on: 01/2020


n general, the cost of living in Spain is acceptable and there is universal, free access to social services such as health and education. 

To give you an idea of the general cost of living in Spain, we have selected the following prices of the some everyday items, which will naturally vary from shop to shop, from region to region and from city to city:

  • Loaf of bread: EUR 0.95 
  • Milk (one litre): between EUR 0.70 and EUR 1.30 
  • A dozen eggs: between EUR 1.60 and EUR 2.20 
  • Kilo of apples: EUR 1.80
  • Kilo of tomatoes: EUR 2.50 
  • Bottle of shampoo: EUR 3.00
  • Deodorant: EUR 2.00 
  • Skirt or trousers: EUR 60.00 
  • National or regional newspaper: EUR 1.20 (EUR 2.20 on Sundays) 
  • Aspirin: EUR 3.20 
  • Cinema ticket: between EUR 7.00 and EUR 9.00 
  • Coffee: between EUR 1.10 and EUR 1.30
  • Beer: between EUR 1.50 and EUR 2.00 
  • Burger: EUR 2.95 
  • Set lunch menu: from EUR 9.00

Bus/metro transport cost: Single ticket: from EUR 1.50. A 10-trip ticket for metro and bus costs EUR 12.20 in Madrid. You can buy a pass that allows you unrestricted travel for one month on the metro, city buses and commuter trains (RENFE), starting at EUR 52.20 (Madrid). 

Approximate fuel costs: Unleaded 95 petrol (litre): EUR 1.35 – Unleaded 98 petrol (litre): EUR 1.46 – Diesel A (litre): EUR 1.27, very variable depending on international fuel prices.


The education system in Spain is divided into the following levels: Pre-school, primary, compulsory secondary education, bachillerato [baccalaureate], vocational training and university education. 

Pre-school: age 0 to 6, divided into two 3-year stages. This is voluntary, with the second stage from 3 to 6 years being widely taken up. 

Primary education from age 6 to 12 is compulsory and free of charge in public (state) and state-subsidised private schools. 

Compulsory secondary education (Spanish acronym ESO): age 12 to 16. Taught in secondary schools. Pupils who successfully complete ESO leave school with a secondary education qualification. 

After obtaining the compulsory secondary education qualification, students who want to continue their studies may choose between mid-level vocational training or baccalaureate. 

The baccalaureate lasts two years, normally from age 16 to 18, and upon completion successful students are awarded a baccalaureate qualification. With this qualification, students may enter higher-level vocational training or commence university studies provided they have passed the university admission exam. 

A broad range of mid- or higher-level vocational training courses are available, organised on a modular basis and of variable duration, which prepare students to work in a variety of jobs. There are alternative ways, generally via exams, to gain admission to university education or higher level vocational courses. Successful completion of mid-level vocational training entitles students to the qualification of technician while higher-level vocational training entitles them to the qualification of advanced technician. 

University studies are divided into three cycles, traditionally known as Bachelor, Master and Doctoral. These correspond to the current three levels of university qualifications: Bachelor, Master and Doctorate (as in the European Higher Education Area). 

Universities are independent bodies able to design their own educational courses. They may be public or private. The qualifications awarded by private universities must be officially recognised by the Ministry of Education to be considered valid. 

Special training courses are also available, e.g. artistic courses (music, dance, visual arts and design and dramatic art) and foreign languages.

In some Autonomous Communities, such as Galicia, Catalonia or the Basque Country, education may be given in the language of the Autonomous Community.


The importance of transparency and mutual recognition of diplomas as a crucial complement to the free movement of workers

The possibility of obtaining recognition of one’s qualifications and competences can play a vital role in the decision to take up work in another EU country. It is therefore necessary to develop a European system that will guarantee the mutual acceptance of professional competences in different Member States. Only such a system will ensure that a lack of recognition of professional qualifications will become an obstacle to workers’ mobility within the EU.

Main principles for the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU

As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able to freely practice their profession in any Member State. Unfortunately the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access to certain professions in the host country.

For the purpose of overcoming these differences, the EU has set up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications. Within the terms of this system, a distinction is made between regulated professions (professions for which certain qualifications are legally required) and professions that are not legally regulated in the host Member State.

Steps towards a transparency of qualifications in Europe

The European Union has taken important steps towards the objective of achieving transparency of qualifications in Europe:

  • An increased co-operation in vocational education and training, with the intention to combine all instruments for transparency of certificates and diplomas, in one single, user-friendly tool. This includes, for example, the European CV or Europass Trainings.
  • The development of concrete actions in the field of recognition and quality in vocational education and training.

Going beyond the differences in education and training systems throughout the EU

Education and training systems in the EU Member States still show substantial differences. The last enlargements of the EU, with different educational traditions, have further increased this diversity. This calls for a need to set up common rules to guarantee recognition of competences.

In order to overcome this diversity of national qualification standards, educational methods and training structures, the European Commission has put forward a series of instruments, aimed at ensuring better transparency and recognition of qualifications both for academic and professional purposes.

  1. The European Qualifications Framework

The European Qualifications Framework is a key priority for the European Commission in the process of recognition of professional competences. The main objective of the framework is to create links between the different national qualification systems and guarantee a smooth transfer and recognition of diplomas.

  1. The National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARICs)

A network of National Academic Recognition Information Centres was established in 1984 at the initiative of the European Commission. The NARICs provide advice on the academic recognition of periods of study abroad. Located in all EU Member States as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area, NARICs play a vital role the process of recognition of qualifications in the EU.

  1. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

The European Credit Transfer System aims at facilitating the recognition of periods of study abroad. Introduced in 1989, it functions by describing an education programme and attaching credits to its components. It is a key complement to the highly acclaimed student mobility programme Erasmus.

  1. Europass

Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents

  • a CV (Curriculum Vitae),
  • a language passport,
  • certificate supplements,
  • diploma supplements, and
  • a Europass-Mobility document.

The Europass system makes skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in the different parts of Europe. In every country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, national Europass centres have been established as the primary contact points for people seeking for information about the Europass system.


www.mtin.es - Ministry of Labour

https://www.sepe.es - Public Employment Service

https://www.mineco.gob.es - Ministry of Economy and Finance

www.aeat.es - Taxes Agency

www.msc.es - Ministry of Health

www.mec.es - Ministry of Education


















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