'Can family members work, either within Spain or for employers abroad' is a common question in our Facebook group.  Under Spain's new Digital Nomad Visa, you can take your partner, children or dependent parents with you when you move. 

So, lets take a look at how it works. 

Will my family member(s) be able to work? 

Yes. Any family members you take with you as dependents will have the right to work, both in Spain and abroad. This has been confirmed to an official source

Can the family member work for a Spanish employer? 

Yes. According to the Spanish government, ‘the beneficiary of permits obtained under the law 14/2013 and their families may work and reside in the entire national territory.’

Working in Spain is straightforward: the family member finds a job and is registered in the social security system by their employer. Or, they register as self-employed and pay social security directly themselves.

Can the family member work for an employer located out of Spain?

Yes, but it's complicated. 

On the one hand, Spain cannot stop its residents from working abroad.

If the family member worked for 3 months of the year while physically in, for example, the UK, receiving a salary & paying social security there, there would be no issue. When it came to filing their tax return in Spain, they would declare this salary and pay any extra taxes. 

However, if the family member is working while physically in Spain, we are getting into a legal grey area in which legislation hasn’t caught up with reality.

The issue is that the family member will be paying social security in their home country rather than in Spain. This goes against the international principle that a worker should be covered in the country where they physically work from, unless they fall under one of the exceptions (cross-border worker, posted worker etc.).  

In this case, you may point out, they are covered by the social security of the main applicant for the Digital Nomad Visa. This is true, but the coverage is as a dependent family member and not as an employed worker. 

There’s no easy answer to this conundrum, but here are a few solutions if you want to do things the ‘correct’ way:

  • The family member could register as self-employed in Spain, sending invoices to their employer who would then become their client.
  • Their employer could register to pay social security in Spain rather than in the home country.
  • The family member could get an A1 certificate from their home country and apply for their own Digital Nomad Visa.
  • They could only work while outside of Spain (not really a solution for most).


Remote working is a relatively new phenomenon and, as with crypto and artificial intelligence, governments and the EU haven't yet caught up, which means there are no clear rules. It's impossible to give generic advice on such a matter - every situation needs to be considered on an individual basis. 

Want to keep up with the latest on the Spanish Digital Nomad visa?

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About the Author Louise Carr

I'm a UK-Spain cross-border tax specialist. After qualifying at PwC in the UK, I moved to Spain and continued my studies. My work focuses on tax matters and advising expats.

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