Legal Advisors Barcelona

The two main problems to start a bussines in Spain if you are a foreigner

Along the past years, AGL has helped to many foreign clients to start a business in Spain setting up a company, usually a S.L. (“Sociedad limitada”). The main problems or delays to do it are related with getting the NIE (tax identification number for foreigners, needed to set up the company) and applying for the European VAT Number. As we explained in other posts, the foreign shareholders need to get the NIE in Spain in order to sign the public deed of incorporation of the company. This procedure has to be done if the shareholder is a person or a company but in both cases it can take weeks or even months to
end the procedure as the authorities don´t make it easy to get the NIE. In case you want to get the NIE through the Embassy or Consultate of Spain in your country, sometimes the embassies or consultates don´t offer this service or make it really difficult.
In case you want to do it in Spain, you have two options: to do it personally, coming to Spain, or grating a power in your country to someone in Spain (eg one of the AGL´s lawyers). Anyway the most difficult step, at least when writing this post (November 2021) is to get an appointment before the Police or the Tax office in Spain. It can take weeks or even months to achieve it,
which from our point of view is a big mistake from the Spanish authorities as they don´t help foreign investors to bring the money to Spain.

The other problem that some companies with foreign shareholders have is to get the European VAT number, after applying it before the Register of Intra-community operators. In some cases these companies don´t have, at least in the first months, employees in Spain and the directors of the company are not líving in Spain. It is quite usual also that the Spanish company hasn´t rented any office or premise. In most of the cases when the shareholders of the company are foreigners and haven´t lived in Spain for the past years, the tax office audits the company to check it there is really an activity of the company in Spain, requesting name of employees, rental contract, explanation of the activity of the company, operations with other EU countries,
etc. This audit can take several weeks and meanwhile the company won´t have the European VAT Number, specially needed to invoice to EU clients or to receive invoices from EU suppliers without VAT in origin. In AGL we have had recently difficulties with getting the European VAT number because the companies hadn´t employees or rented offices in Spain as the tax office
wants to verify that there is a real activity in Spain of the company and that it is not an “empty- box”.
So, in case you want to set up a company in Spain, take into account these two possible problems, cross fingers and be patient…


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