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New law for startups in Spain

⏰ 8 min read


The draft law has been in development since 2018 and became a reality on December 1, 2022, when the Congress of Deputies approved the Law on Assistance to the Startup Ecosystem, aimed at creating a specific regulatory framework for the creation and development of startups.

The bill will affect startups, their investors, entrepreneurs and remote workers.

The law for startups is aimed at:

  • Attracting international talent and retaining qualified workers in Spain
  • Encouraging the creation of new, fast-growing technology companies
  • Increased investment in innovative technological developments
  • Positioning Spain as a benchmark for entrepreneurship in the entire European region
  • Promotion of investments in newly created startups (both domestic and foreign investments)
  • Facilitating the obtaining of a residence permit in Spain for foreigners who work remotely in the country or simply offer their services to international clients

In this article, you will learn about this new measure, which implies large tax benefits for foreigners and citizens and simplifies the procedures for creating new businesses in Spain.

What is the new law for startups about?

The Law for Startups is a new regulation that was created to promote the creation and development of new technological and innovative companies in Spain, as well as turning the country into a benchmark for entrepreneurship at the European level.

Thanks to a number of tax benefits, the removal of bureaucratic obstacles and flexibility in many procedures, this law will allow:

  • Qualify accrued interest as income from work. Only 50% of this income will be taxed if the requirements are met
  • Have no grounds for liquidation of a startup due to losses before the expiration of three years from the date of registration
  • Introduce tax incentives for the taxation of stock options

Key advantages

Entrepreneurs will be able to obtain a residence permit for 3 years, which can be extended for another 2. After 5 years of residence permit, you can count on permanent residence. You need to apply in Spain.

Prior to the introduction of the bill, a residence permit was initially issued for 2 years with the possibility of being extended twice for 2 years, and only after that it was possible to apply for permanent residence.

Foreign investors in startups in Spain can now not receive NIE. It is enough to provide only a special tax number, NIF.

What is considered a startup?

A company is considered a startup if:

  • The annual turnover is less than 10 million euros
  • Registration was less than 5 years or 7 years in the case of biotech, energy and industrial companies
  • The company has an innovative nature and a technological base with a scalable business model
  • They are not listed on the stock exchange and do not pay dividends
  • They are in a market niche that did not exist before
  • Improve the efficiency and sustainability of other sectors
  • The headquarters and most of the employees are located in Spain
  • If it is part of a group of companies, then each of its members must meet the requirements above

In addition, it is necessary to confirm the innovativeness of the project in ENISA, Empresa Nacional de Innovación SME S. A. — a National Innovation company — and to confirm the innovativeness of its project. Criteria by which innovation is evaluated:

  • The level of innovation
  • The level of attractiveness of the market
  • Stage of the company's life
  • Business model
  • Competition
  • Team
  • Dependence on suppliers, providers and lease agreements
  • Customers

The definition of whether a startup passes all the criteria will be interpreted by ENISA.

Tax benefits

Firstly, the corporate tax is reduced from 25% to 15% for a maximum of 4 years, while the company is still considered a startup; they start counting from the first year in which the company had income.

Remember that corporate income tax is the main tax rate paid by companies in Spain after deducting expenses from income earned during the year.

Deferred tax payments are allowed for the first 2 years with a positive result and without interest, which will give additional "air" at the initial stages of the startup's life.

Foreigners received the most benefits. For example, from the moment this law comes into force, they will be able to get much easier access to the IRNR — income tax of non-residents.

Until now, in order to take advantage of this regime, foreigners had to prove that they had not lived in Spain for the last 10 years. This amount will be reduced to just 5 years. In addition, foreign citizens will be able to use this measure for a total of 10 years, instead of 5, as it was before.

It will also be possible to request a tax deferral for the first two years with a positive economic result.

More opportunities for investors

In order for a startup to develop, money is needed. And in many cases, this need translates into external investments.

To facilitate the inflow of capital into startups from investors, both national and international, the law offers benefits.

For example, the maximum deduction base for these transactions will be increased to 100,000 euros per year (currently this figure is 60,000 euros) at a deduction rate of 40%. In addition, the transfer of shares to employees of companies up to 50 thousand euros is not taxed.

Changes concerning digital nomads

A new visa category was introduced for them with the following requirements:

  • The employee has a long-term contract for more than 3 months with a foreign company/group of companies not located in Spain.
  • The contract has been signed with only one company for the last three months.
  • The company/group of companies has been on the market for more than a year.
  • The employee has confirmation that the company/group of companies allows him to work remotely.
  • The employee has at least a year of remote work experience.
  • The minimum wage is equal to the subsistence minimum of Spain — from 1,500 euros.

Remote workers will now be able to live permanently in Spain on an annual visa, and after its completion, get a residence permit for 3 years with a possible extension for another 2 years, and then apply for permanent residence for 5 years. At the same time, they undertake to pay tax on the income of non-residents.

The new law on startups is a positive step that will facilitate the launch and development of startups in Spain. The main advantages of the law are a new visa, tax benefits and access to government funding programs. The law also includes incentives for mass production and support for rural entrepreneurship. In general, the reforms are aimed at positioning Spain as a centre of digital talent in the European Union, which is possible by attracting talent, encouraging cooperation between new companies and entrepreneurs and improving the business climate.

Please note that all materials contained on this site have been prepared for informational purposes only. This data does not constitute or replace professional financial, legal or tax advice. The information is general in nature and does not take into account your personal circumstances. Always seek professional advice from officially licensed professionals: financial advisors, accountants and lawyers.

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