How Brits Can Work In Spain Post Brexit

Living and working in Spain is a life-long ambitious for many Brits, and Brexit has certainly thrown a spanner into the works of what was once a relatively straightforward dream. The opportunity to work anywhere in the EU without a visa is no longer afforded to British citizens. But that doesn’t mean that being a Briton working in Spain post-Brexit is impossible. Here we break down exactly how Brits can move to Spain and work in the country in a post-Brexit world:


Securing a Work permit as an employee (por cuenta ajena)

If you wish to secure a work permit and be permanently employed in Spain post-Brexit, then the only way to achieve this is to apply for a role that is on Spain’s shortage occupation list. This list is updated regularly and the latest version of it is downloadable here. In summary though the overwhelming majority of the roles needed right now are in the maritime and shipping industry (from naval mechanics to ferry staff, chefs and waiters). Sports coaches are also in demand right now. If this isn’t your area of expertise then sadly you’re likely to find this list frustrating.

And if you’re lucky enough to find that your chosen career is on the shortage occupation list? Your prospective employer would still have to demonstrate that there wasn’t a suitable Spanish or EU candidate over you. It is technically possible to apply for a work permit for a job that isn’t on SEPE’s list, but your prospective employer will have to vouch for you further still and really convince Spanish civil servants that there weren’t any local candidates available. It’s also worth bearing in mind that you can’t just move to Spain and start applying for jobs and house hunting at the same time: You must start your application from the Spanish consulate in the UK or the country in which you live, which will delay the whole process further.

Working as an English Teacher

It seems like an obvious career choice for Brits moving to Spain, and is a career option where native Britons are highly sought after in Spain. At this point, the Spanish government has not yet announced whether it will fast-track work permits for British English teachers who are needed in Spain, but it is likely that it this will be a slightly easier route to Spanish employment.

If you’re thinking of studying in Spain and working at the same time then you can secure a student visa if you have a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification. These are relatively easy to secure in the UK, and simply require you to complete a short course. You could then work as an English teacher on the side of your studies in Spain. If you’re not interested in studying in Spain then the UK may be invited to join the “Auxiliares de Conversación” Programme. This is a programme run by the Spanish government that allows people from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States to more to Spain and work as English language teacher assistants in Spanish schools. If this is something that sounds appealing then it is worth reaching out to Spanish schools in the area you want to move to, to see if they have any suitable roles available.

This is likely to be the easiest way for British citizens to secure employment in Spain, although this may not be the most appealing option for you if you’re already qualified in another field.

Gaining a Work Permit If You’re Self Employed (por cuenta propia)

As with so many things, the process of setting up your own business or registering as a self-employed sole trader in Spain is a little more complicated for UK citizens post-Brexit. The main criteria that you have to meet are that you have to show that you have the correct and most relevant qualifications for the role you propose, and that you will have sufficient earnings from your self-employed business to support yourself in Spain.

The best way to demonstrate this is to create a comprehensive business plan. This will have to clearly show that, within 3 years of moving to Spain, your business will be both profitable and successful. Once your business plan is completed, the hard work begins: your plan will have to be sent to five different Spanish institutions, and it will have to be approved by all five of those departments.

They are as follows:

  • Unión de Profesionales y Trabajadores Autónomos -  UPTA
  • Confederación Intersectorial de Autónomos del Estado Español – CIAE
  • Organización Profesionales autónomos - OPA
  • Unión de Asociaciones de trabajadores Autónomos y emprendedores-  UATAE
  • Federación Nacional de Trabajadores Autónomos - ATA

Each institution will send you a viability certification, demonstrating that your business plan has been approved and deemed to be successful. Only at that stage can you send your paperwork to Spain’s Ministry of Labour and Immigration, who will issue you with a year long work permit. This is renewed each year until, after five years, you are eligible for a five year work permit. The whole process is a lengthy one, and on average it takes each applicant two years to reach the approval stage.

Whilst it is more than possible to register as a self-employed individual in Spain, therefore, it is certainly no quick fix.

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