Services - Spain
Provision of services in Spain
European Union law recognises freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services in the Single Market. It allows EU businesses to establish themselves in any Member State in order to provide national or cross-border services, i.e. to offer services in other Member States without being established in them.
Freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services have been extended over time to different economic sectors, such as: financial and banking services, telecommunications, transport and trade. More information is available through the following links:
Spanish law is in line with EU law. The Spanish rules regulating the various service sectors are extensive and cover: retail trade and distribution, telecommunications, transport, and consultancy services. They set out the requirements for each service activity.
In some sectors, the Autonomous Communities and local authorities have certain powers, for example in the regulation of trade or trading hours.
To improve the movement of services between EU countries, the Services Directive was adopted, which aims to reduce red tape and make it easier for service-providers to establish themselves in other Member States.
The Services Directive covers the following services:
- retail and wholesale trade of goods and services;
- business-related services;
- most regulated professions (such as legal and tax advisers;
- architects, engineers, accountants, surveyors);
The procedures and requirements for setting up a service business are not very different from those for setting up any other type of business. More information is available through the following links:
Barriers to the freedom to provide services and SOLVIT
Member States may not impose discriminatory, unnecessary or disproportionate requirements on foreign service-providers.
They may impose certain requirements, if necessary, for reasons of public order and security, and protection of public health and the environment. Certain exceptions also exist, for example with regard to employees seconded abroad or the recognition of professional qualifications.
A 1994 Regulation tries to prevent barriers to free trade.
The SOLVIT network can help consumers and businesses to solve problems caused by the incorrect application of internal market legislation by public authorities. This is an out-of-court service committed to providing a solution within a maximum of 10 weeks. There is a SOLVIT office in every Member State.
Consumers of services
Services must comply with Spanish and EU consumer protection rules. More information on this subject is available through the following links:
The Directive also recognises more rights for service recipients: consumers and businesses must be able to complain about services provided by service-providers established in other Member States, without having to obtain prior authorisation or being subject to discriminatory requirements. National authorities must provide information and assistance on consumer rights and complaint procedures.
When consumers want to make complaints , they should contact the relevant consumer authorities at municipal level (Consumer Information Offices) or regional level (Directorates-General for Consumer Affairs).
Complaints about a European business with regard to cross-border sales of goods or services can be submitted through the European Consumer Centre in Spain.
Service sectors in Spain
You can find rules, information and forms online and also complete procedures with the authorities with regard to the following service sectors:
Information Society and Telecommunications:
Financial and Insurance Services:
Points of single contact
The point of single contact, EUGO.es, is aimed at service-providers (businesses and entrepreneurs) from the Member States of the European Union who want to operate in Spain. It also provides information to consumers (service recipients) on these business activities.
From the EUGO.es portal, you can download Help Guides setting out all the information on how to access and engage in service activities, and how businesses and consumers can complain.
The EUGO.es portal can also help service-providers to complete procedures with the various relevant authorities.
The Point of Single Contact on the Services Directive is a website providing information for businesses in Spain. It can also help with online procedures.
For an overview of the taxes payable by businesses in Spain, see the ‘Taxes' page.
In intra-Community transactions, the seller is exempt from charging VAT, which is payable in the country of destination. For this purpose, both the Spanish seller and the receiving business must be registered in the Register of Intra-Community Operators (ROI), also known as the VAT Information Exchange System (VIES).
Intra-Community VAT assessments must be submitted quarterly, using form 349.
Businesses can also choose between two refund options: annual or monthly.
Before starting to offer a service, both employers and employees must be registered with Social Security. Those employees seconded to other European Union countries will, as a general rule, be subject to the social security legislation of the country in which they are working. However, for temporary secondments, employees can continue to be subject to the social security legislation of their country of origin. Special forms must be completed in this case, usually the E-101 or E-102 forms.
More information on the free movement of persons and workers in the European Union and on the recognition of professional qualifications is available through the following links:
The Spanish Institute for Overseas Trade promotes the internationalisation of Spanish businesses.
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 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: