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Expat Business Life in Barcelona

Working in Barcelona can be an amazing experience for expats. The cosmopolitan environment and ideal location by the Mediterranean Sea make for great business opportunities for expatriates in Barcelona. Our guide to working in Barcelona has info on the job search, business etiquette, and more.

Taking That First Step: The Job Hunt

Finding work in Barcelona is not so easy for expats. Not only are many employers looking for foreign employees who are fluent in Spanish, most of them also expect at least basic proficiency in Catalan. Even though the job search may take some effort on your part, it is definitely possible to find work in Barcelona. Your chances increase if you have already secured your NIE, your personal identity number. This is not easy to do without an employment contract, mind you.

Browse online job databases and the job sections of expat websites., for instance, offers an online job section for Barcelona and other destinations within Spain, while also provides services of this nature. Websites like Jobsin Barcelona advertise in English, making the job search that little bit less stressful. If you are fluent in Spanish, you can also look through local newspapers for vacancies. La Vanguardia and El País have very extensive job sections and are probably the most popular newspapers in Barcelona.

For expats on the job hunt, the Barcelona Metropolitan magazine can be of great help as well. The monthly magazine is published in English and has a job section in the back with positions particularly well suited for expats. Copies are available at most language schools, as well as Café de la Opera on La Rambla 74 and the Hibernan English Bookshop in Gràcia.

Tax Regulations for Expats

The tax regulations for expats depend mostly on their country of origin and type of employment. These details determine whether you have to pay taxes in Spain and how exactly you are required to pay them. US citizens, for instance, should contact the Internal Revenue Service in the United States for more information or refer to the Income Tax Convention with Spain.

Spain has signed double taxation avoidance agreements (DTAA) with many different countries. For expats it is important to figure out if they fall under one of those agreements and, if so, which country’s taxes they are supposed to pay. Check the UN Database to see what regulations, if any, apply to you. Are you from a non-EU country and your country of origin has not signed a DTAA with Spain? In that case, you are required to pay your taxes in Spain.

At the end of the day, taxation can be quite difficult to figure out, no matter if you fall under a DTAA or not. Thus, you should always refer to the Spanish tax authorities for more information. It is also recommended to turn to a tax advisor or an attorney who is experienced in working with expats. For more details on this subject, check out our guide on working in Spain.

Business — It’s All about Personal Ties

While doing business in Barcelona, it is important to keep a few things in mind. First of all, business relationships are formed between people and not the companies they work for. Thus, once you have established a trusting business relationship, it will prevail even when you change companies. Your business partners will want to make sure that they can trust you before doing business with you.

Hierarchy and rank are important when it comes to Spanish business deals. While any decision is made at the top, you should be sure to deal with people of your own rank. It is possible that you will not get to meet the person who ultimately makes the decision. Try to always provide your presentations and materials both in English and Spanish to avoid misunderstandings. It is customary to interrupt people during meetings and often several people speak at once. Only when you and your business partners reach an understanding during one of those meetings is it time to draw up a contract.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

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Matthew Brown

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