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Jobs and employment on the Costa Blanca

Employment in SpainThe Council of Europe regulations forced Spain to end all restrictions on the free circulation of European Union workers as of January 1st, 1992 - which means that all EU citizens can work in Spain under the same conditions as Spaniards complete with employment contracts and employers contributions into the Spanish Social Security system on your behalf, giving both yourself and your dependants, access to the Spanish National Health Service. These rights extend even to family members who are non EU nationals. For example, if a Briton working in Spain is married to, say - a US national, the non EU spouse will have full rights to residence and employment in Spain. In addition, children of foreign workers will have the same rights to trade school education and apprenticeship programmes run by the state as nationals of that State. All of these rights, and more, are set out in EU Regulation 1612/68, regarding the free circulation of workers within the European Union.

Article 5 of Title I of that Regulation also states that any EU foreigner looking for work in another EU country shall receive the same help from State employment offices as its nationals seeking work, they even mean that the foreign worker, should he/she lose his/her job in Spain for reasons beyond his/her control, providing they have paid sufficient sums into the Social Security system of the said State during their employment, can have access to unemployment payments - the Spanish dole, just like a Spanish worker.

If you are considering living permanently in Spain, you must register both yourself and any dependants with the local Police Station and obtain a NIE certificate (Numero de Identificacion de Extranjeros) - Foreigners Identification Number. This certificate should be carried on your person at all times, together with your passport or residents' permit.

Once you have this certificate, any EU national looking for employment should present himself to the nearest office of the INEM (Instituto Nacional de Empleo) - Unemployment Office, to register as a 'demandante de empleo' - unemployed. The only problem is - you must be able to speak at least a little Spanish as very few government departments will have an English translator on hand, and the staff will very quickly become short tempered with you if you expect to find employment with a Spanish company without at least being able to say good morning to the boss !

Once you have found employment, pay particular attention to your contract. Spanish companies are notorious for insisting that you are paid half in 'white' and half in 'black', which means only half of your salary is declared to the government saving the employer - not you - a large tax bill. Problems arise when you are not able to prove your earnings should you require a mortgage or a loan of any kind, or you loose your job and you find that insufficient funds have been paid into the Social Security System for you to draw unemployment benefit.

Should you be thinking of setting up your own business in Spain, don't expect things to be any clearer. You may have to battle through a lot of red tape to obtain the proper licenses and permits - even if you plan to work from home. Find yourself a 'gestor' - business advisor and don't try to do it yourself. The following is a guide of the steps you need to go through before you can sell your first 'widget' ! Not all of the items will be required in every case, but it gives you some idea of what's in store.

Title or degree - If you wish to practice medicine, architecture, gas fitter or any other business that requires a certain measure of safety, you must present your titles and certificates from the EU institutions you attended. If your titles are gained outside the EU they will have to undergo a lengthy verification process.

I.A.E (Impuesto de Actividades Economicas) - Business License or Tax on Economic Activities. This will need to be paid in advance and varies depending upon the type of business you intend to begin.

Registration with the Spanish Social Security as a trabajador autonomo - self employed person. It is illegal to work in Spain without paying into the Social Security system.

Licencia de Apertura - Opening License. If you plan to open business premises you will need this license from your local Ayuntamiento - Town Hall who will need to come along and make an inspection.

A written explanation (in Spanish, of course) of the activity you will carry out. Licenses are issued specifically to cover the specified activities and any diversifications will need to be re-submitted to the authorities - so make sure you include everything.

Title deed and lease contract for business premises.

If you are forming a limited company, the incorporation charter.

Any other permits relating to your special profession - such as a food handlers certificate should you be thinking of opening a restaurant.

Good Luck !

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