To work in Spain, foreign nationals require a Work and Residence Visa. Applications for a work permit are not permitted if the foreign national has not regularised his or her situation in Spain.

Visas may be obtained at Spanish diplomatic missions in the country of origin and, in exceptional circumstances, in other foreign countries. The visa must be applied for personally.

Freelance work permits

Applicants must meet all the requirements laid down by Spanish law to set up a company or to be self-employed or as a free-lance professional. Information is available in the Companies section of Behargintza.

Applicants must request authorisation in their country of origin. The validity periods are similar to permits issued to those working for third parties.


Foreign nationals must apply for the Work and Residence Permit at the Spanish diplomatic mission in their country.

Third party work permits

There are two ways of acquiring this permit and both can be done in the country of origin. The first is through a Named Offer made by an employer for a job which is difficult to fill in Spain. It would not be necessary that the job is one that is diffcult to fill in Spain if the application is one of preference (ie. The applicant has a spouse, mother or father with a renewed permit, a child of Spanish nationality…).

It is also possible through the collective management of contracts at source to obtain a maximum number of work permits for foreign workers. The amount is decided annually and is organised by sectors and geographic areas in order to cover the demand for those jobs that the national market cannot fill. The offer in this procedure is generic and is aimed at countries with which Spain has an agreement. Within this procedure there is also a subsection for contracting people through 3 monthly looking for work visas. These specific visas for looking for work are also aimed at the children and grandchildren of Spanish citizens.

Types of third party work permits

There are three types of third party work permits:

  • Initial. This is valid for one year, and is restricted to a single province and sector.
  • Renewal. This is for a period of four years and provides permission to work in any activity in any part of the country as an employee or as self-employed. Whereby a Long term residence permit can be granted.

The application for renewal extends the permit until resolution takes place. If the Administration does not resolve the issue in a period of three months, the permit is valid and the foreign national has the right to apply for renewal on the basis of of the failure of the Administration to apply within the stipulated time limit.


Job offers should be presented to the Office for Foreign Nationals in Bilbao.

Foreign nationals who do not reside in Spain should apply for the Residence and Work Visa at the Spanish diplomatic mission in their country of origin.

Further information