If you decide to start a new business in Spain or expand an existing company internationally, you will need to ensure you know how to get your Spanish residency card in order to get operations started. You may also choose to bring family members with you to Spain or hire workers from your home country; in that case, those individuals will also need residency cards and a NIE foreigners’ identification number.
How to get Spanish residency card
You are eligible to apply for a Spanish residency card within 90 days of your arrival in the country provided you entered with a valid passport and, if applicable, long-stay visa (usually only necessary for non-EU citizens). The card will contain identifying information about the bearer and serve as official identification thanks to the NIE number on it, which is the ID number used on all official forms, such as to open a bank account. You will need to apply for your card in person at the Foreigners’ Office (Extranjería) or Police Station (Comisaría), depending on the city.
The basic documents needed for EU nationals are the application form, receipt of fees paid, and proof of financial means (employment, self-employment, pension, savings, etc.) and possibly proof of medical insurance for people who are not working. You will also need your valid passport and, usually, photocopies of everything.
Note that if you will be hiring employees for your business operations in Spain and they are not EU citizens, they will need a special work permit in order to get their entry visa that will allow them to have legal residency status with permission to work in the country. As the employer, you must apply for this work permit on their behalf. With the exception of Croatia, employees you bring in from other EU or EEA countries are allowed to work in Spain without a permit. To get their Spanish residency card, they will need to show proof that they can support themselves and any dependents financially, which would be met by presenting the employment contract they have with your company.
Spanish residency card for non-EU citizens
The requirements for a Spanish residency card for non-EU citizens are more demanding and more specific because they usually depend on the type of visa the person used to enter Spain. Affluent foreigners looking to start a business in Spain may be able to get a fast-track residence by purchasing at least €500,000 worth of real estate in the country and applying for the so-called “golden visa”. An employee would need to present their employment contract, a student would need to show proof of fulfilling their academic program requirements, etc.
Another important difference between EU and non-EU Spanish residency cards is their use as photo identification. If you are not a citizen of an EU or EEA member country, you will need to provide all the basic documentation plus a photocopy of your entire passport (every page, ostensibly to check on your comings and goings in and out of the European Union) plus two recent passport-size photos. Before you can get your card, you will also be fingerprinted at the Police Station.
Spanish residency card renewal typically takes place every year until you are granted permanent residency status (which you may apply for after five years of legal residence in most cases). Generally, you will need to show all the same documents (up to date) as when you first applied.