For the past several years, I’ve heard rumblings of a new visa type here in Spain that would be targeted towards digital nomads: people who typically work remotely and travel abroad at leisure. I’m not entirely convinced this visa will ever come to fruition, since I rarely see any new articles about it that add anything new to the discussion (or show what I consider a reasonable launch date), but I thought I’d try to give some information about what I know.
There are already many digital nomads living and working in Spain remotely. Some likely come to Spain under normal Schengen travel rules, which means they can only stay up to three months and then they have to leave. Others come in on a non-lucrative visa (since you’re not really supposed to work on a non-lucrative visa, this is a bit questionable) and work remotely anyways. Some, like me, came in on a non-lucrative visa and then applied for a visa change after one year to make it so that I could work for myself.
One of the reasons Spain probably wants to make it easier for digital nomads to live and work in Spain is that many are coming in on the non-lucrative visa, working anyways, and then not declaring any taxes (since they assume they can continue paying in their home countries since no work is actually done with Spanish clients). This is unfortunately false for most people, and they should be paying taxes in Spain. Eventually I suspect the hacienda (the Spanish tax office) will catch up with these people and extract their pound of flesh, but in the meantime they are living in Spain and not paying any taxes.
So with a new visa purposefully targeting digital nomads who have employment in another country, Spain is probably hoping for the best of both worlds – to attract higher income talent to Spain while also making it easy for those people to pay taxes here due to incentives in terms of lower tax rates.
This visa is yet to be developed entirely, so it’s unclear exactly how it will be implemented or what benefits it will have. But it sounds like it will be issued for a period of one year, be renewable for up to five years, allow for full-time residence within Spain, and will likely offer reduced tax rates (rumour is 15% for up to five years).
One of the obvious problems to this new visa scheme is that it will immediately penalize people who came to Spain on a working visa, or in my case a cuenta propia visa, who pay higher taxes currently and also, as of next year, up to 580 euros a month in social security. People like me will question why they are paying 35% tax, and 6,000 euros in social security when they can simply go back to their home countries, apply for a digital nomad visa, and save on both tax and social security when they return. I think this is a big glaring hole that they haven’t quite thought through entirely yet, especially when considering the recently announced changes to social security payments that will see someone who previously paid 283 a month to now pay possibly up to 580.
Many other countries in Europe are starting to offer digital nomad visas, so I suspect Spain is feeling the pressure not to lose that revenue, but I worry that the digital nomad visa, while being a great offering for people who currently aren’t in Spain, will put the local entrepreneurs at a distinct disadvantage.
I’ll update everyone with more information as soon as there is some, but I personally don’t see this as being closeto ready, and I suspect it’ll likely be at least spring of 2023 before we hear anymore about it from the Spanish government.