Outside the EU - Spain
International trade and investment
The economy is global. International organisations such as the World Trade Organization play a key role in international trade. The international treaties signed by the European Union law in this respect are very important.
The European Union has powers in terms of international trade and international investment.
The Customs Union established between all the Member States of the European Union is very important in terms of international trade. As a result, the European Union has customs rules and requirements that must be met in international trade with third countries. More information is available through the following links:
The next section explains the requirements for the import and export of goods and services and international investment in Spain.
Goods: import and export
Spain is part of the Customs Union, which has established a common framework for all the Member States in their trade relations with third countries.
As a general rule, goods can be freely imported and exported in the internal market. However, there are exceptions: different regimes and administrative procedures apply for importing and exporting certain goods. These import and export regimes are as follows:
- Prior authorisation by the authorities.
- Surveillance: imports and exports must be reported or notified to the authorities.
- Product certification: to ensure that products meet certain quality requirements, these must be checked and certified by the competent authority.
More information, for example on which international trade regime applies to a specific product, is available through the following links:
Services: import and export
Providing services involves carrying out immaterial or intangible services, for example an engineering project. Services are very different from goods or products. That explains why the import and export of services have different characteristics, requirements and rules.
In Spain the service sector accounts for 70% of the gross domestic product. Services are also very important in our international trade and investment.
More information on imports and exports of services (importance, rules, requirements, recommendations for service exporters, etc.) is available through the following links:
More general information on external trade, trade policy, rules, requirements, quality control and technical assistance for exporters, financial support, statistics, and country and sector information is available through the following links:
In the European Union and Spain, foreign investment is allowed in almost all areas. There are a few exceptions, such as defence and dual-use goods.
In some cases, businesses have to declare to the authorities the foreign investments that they make in Spain from other countries or when they invest in other countries from Spain. These declarations are for statistical and administrative purposes.
More information on foreign investment (importance, rules, personal assistance for investors, attraction of investment to Spain, promotion of foreign investment) is available through the following links, which can also be used to complete international trade procedures online:
The Spanish Institute for Overseas Trade promotes the internationalisation of Spanish businesses through various actions: training, trade fairs, advice and personalised help.
The public authorities provide various forms of export help: training in international trade, business advice, promotion, trade fairs, financial support, export insurance, development credits, etc.
The Spanish government produces a series of statistics in order to better understand the country's export activity.
- The Export Situation Survey is conducted quarterly and covers a total of 1 500 businesses.
- The Competitiveness Trends Index is produced once a month (although it is published quarterly) and analyses the price competitiveness of Spanish exports, taking into account price changes.
Both ICEX and the State Secretariat for Foreign Trade maintain statistical databases on Spanish foreign trade: Estacom and DataComex respectively.
Import/export procedures with the State Secretariat for Foreign Trade
Documents and forms for import or export procedures can be submitted online or in person to the State Secretariat for Foreign Trade and to the Territorial or Provincial Trade Directorates.
The Chambers of Commerce also offer their members assistance with these procedures.
Export procedures and documents
Tax procedures: registration for trading tax (IAE) (form 840) under the heading corresponding to exported products; application for registration in the registers of exporters and other economic operators, and intra-community operators (form 036, application for registration ), required only if you want VAT to be refunded; and payment of the applicable excise duties. Exports within and outside the EU are exempt from VAT for the exporting business.
Customs procedures: classification of goods under the customs tariff, according to the TARIC code. For exports outside the EU, the Single Administrative Document (SAD) must be completed.
Certificates: certain certificates must be requested, depending on the country of destination (certificates of origin, movement certificates, certificates according to the type of goods, plant health, veterinary and accompanying certificates, AGREX and CITES certificates, etc).
Commercial documents: invoices (pro forma, commercial, customs, consular) and list of contents (packing list).
Transport documents: bill of lading for sea transport, road or rail consignment note for land transport, and air waybill for air transport.
Insurance policies: it is advisable to take out at least a transport insurance policy and an export credit insurance policy.
Tax procedures: when the goods arrive at Customs, the owner of the imported goods must pay a series of taxes: VAT, any excise duties that may apply (on tobacco etc.), and customs tariffs (these vary according to the country of origin and type of goods).
Importing and exporting services
VAT on the export of services is subject to certain specific requirements. Information on other tax procedures is available through the Virtual Tax Office.
Information on external trade in the European Union is available through the following links:
In Spain information on foreign trade policy, rules, procedures, help for businesses when internationalising their operations, and financial support is available through the following link:
ICEX aims to promote international trade and support businesses investing abroad.
INVEST IN SPAIN seeks to attract investment into Spain.
The Chambers of Commerce have developed a foreign trade database which provides up-to-date information on foreign trade.
Learning to export is a foreign trade support scheme for small and medium-sized enterprises, which has been developed by ICEX. It provides information on financial support, contracts, taxation, new technologies, etc.
The Introduction to Overseas Promotion Scheme (Plan de Iniciación a la Promoción Exterior – PIPE) is designed to help Spanish SMEs that want to enter foreign markets, by advising them on how to design an internationalisation strategy and by offering them financial support to implement that strategy.
The Spanish government has implemented various Comprehensive Market Development Plans to foster economic and trade relations between Spain and various priority countries. There is a specific programme for the United States of America (Made in/Made by Spain).
The Chambers of Commerce have developed an annual plan known as the ‘ Chamber of Commerce Plan ’, which is mainly intended to encourage Spanish businesses to expand abroad and internationalise.
Check also the legislation on this topic in: