If you are thinking of setting up your own company or business in sunny Spain, you have to be aware that there are various routes to do it such as an acquisition, becoming a self employed individual (Autónomo), starting a franchise, creating a joint venture etc.
The most frequently used legal structure however is a limited liability company, known in Spain as an SL. Every one of these is legally represented by an administrator who runs the business. Regardless whether you will be that legal representative or your role will be limited to owning a certain percentage of the company, you should still be informed and know that apart from having the fiscal status of ‘Autónomo’, the administrator will also require a NIE number. If your business will be administered by a partner, but your participation exceeds 30%, then you too should apply for a NIE number. Another thing to consider when determining who will be the administrator is exactly the status of ‘Autónomo’ it requires. As an ‘Autónomo’ you are required to pay contributions to the ‘Seguridad Social’ yourself, while as an employee the company (your employer) will collect these automatically from your wages. This significant difference has caught more than one poorly informed new ‘Autónomo’ out when being hit unexpectedly by a social security bill. It’s something easily overlooked if you’ve been used to your employer taking care of it for all of your working life so far.
It’s of the utmost importance for businessmen and contractors to have all their Spanish paperwork sorted out before even thinking of launching, and one vital part of that preparation is getting a NIE number for each and every associate of the venture. Without first acquiring the NIE number, the Social Security Office of the locality where your business is based will not be able to grant the social security numbers for your associates.
For the purpose of obtaining a NIE it’s not a requirement to be working in Spain, but the opposite is true: you cannot legally work in Spain without a NIE. So it stands to reason that getting your NIE application out of the way and processed deserves to be on top of your priority list of things to do in the course of starting your own business. There are tons of other administrative details to sort out, but you can be virtually guaranteed that whatever other paperwork you’re trying to sort out, having your NIE in place will make things go smoother.