Advice on Visas and Finding Work in Spain for Americans

Most of the readers of our website are either living in Spain or are European Union citizens, mostly from the United Kingdom, who wish to move to Spain and find work. However we are receiving an increasing amount of enquiries from American citizens who wish to travel to Europe and find work in Spain.

Many Americans dream of travelling throughout Europe but consider it too expensive because costs are much more than they are in the United States. The one alternative is to work your way around Europe.

The other reason we are often contacted by Americans looking to work in Spain is because they have the opportunity of being posted to one of the major Spanish cities such as Madrid and Barcelona through the multinational company that they currently work for.

Any information that we have that is relevant to Americans working in Spain is contained on this page. The advice on this page not only applies to Americans but is also completely relevant to Canadians and Australians searching for work in Spain.

Spanish Visa for American Citizens

Working legally in Spain as an American is very difficult compared to European Union citizens who do not even require a visa to work in Spain.

American Flag in Spain (image hosted by surinenglish.com)You will need to get a visa to travel to Spain for three months.

We suggest that you aim your search for work towards American companies with offices in major cities such as Madrid and Barcelona or target a company with a history of hiring Americans.

It would help if you have qualifications and skills that are quite unique and not readily available from other European Union citizens.

This information from Notes from Spain is useful:

“My experience is from many years ago but I am quite sure the regulations have not changed much. You need to have an offer letter from your employer before you can even apply.

Once you get the offer letter, you need to have get a medical exam, a local police clearance, fill out some forms and go to the Spanish consulate to apply for an entrance visa. That will take a few months at least. Once it is approved, they will notify you at an American address since you are not supposed to be working in Spain yet.

Once you get the visa, which is a sticker in your passport, you can then go to Spain, to apply for the working permit. You have 30 days to do it. The working permit will take another few months.

Whether you can work in the meantime is in the grey area. I was told even I didn’t have a working permit yet, I could start working. But then you have to sort out how your employer pays you until you get the proper documentation.

Conclusion, it takes a long time to get the working permit, and the application starts with the Spanish Consulate before you come. If you want to do everything legally, find an employer early.”

Summer Work for Americans in Spain

The alternative to going through all the legal process of applying for a job is just to get a casual summer job. Once you have your visa you will be allowed to reside in Spain for three months.

During this time you might want to try find a summer job like many other EU citizens. Most of these jobs are not official jobs that come with the contract. Therefore you will not need an NIE number and you will not be disadvantaged being an American.

Of course just like anyone else you are technically working illegally and as an American citizen you may face deportation so this is entirely at your own risk.

Most of the summer jobs will be in the popular tourist destinations such as the Canary and Balearic Islands as well as mainland Spain such as the Costa Del Sol.

The popular tourist resorts will require workers in bars, restaurants, hotels and nightclubs. Most likely you will be serving behind the bar or working in a restaurant as a waiter or waitress.

The seasonal jobs tend to pay around five euros an hour and do not come with any accommodation or benefits but they do help towards paying your way as you travel around Europe.

The advantage with these casual summer jobs are that they do not require much (if any) Spanish. There are also good possibilities to teach English to Spanish people.



Key tourist resorts to find work would be: Marbella, Malaga, Fuengirola, Torremolinos and Benalmadena in the Costa del Sol region of Spain.

Mallorca, Ibiza, Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria are the most popular Spanish islands for tourism.

Tips for Searching for Work

  • You will be able to open a bank account without problems.
  • Start your search for work in Madrid and Barcelona.
  • Always arrive in Spain with a return air ticket. You may be refused entry if you don’t have one.
  • If you overstate your 90 day visa entry you will probably be allowed to leave the country without being penalised.
  • Look for work in summer camps.
  • Many language schools will be prepared to take you on without paperwork.

US Embassy Work & Jobs Advice for Americans

Source US Embassy Spain “American citizens can enter Spain or Andorra visa-free for periods of up to three months. Spanish government regulations may require a return or on-going ticket or proof of funds.

Should an American citizen wish to remain longer than ninety days, you will be required to obtain an extension of stay from Spanish immigration authorities. This extension, of no more than ninety days, must be requested at a police station at least three weeks before the initial entry period expires. It is only granted under exceptional circumstances.

By law, foreigners who have overstayed their permitted time will not be allowed to leave Spain without first obtaining an exit permit from the Directorate of Security of the State in Madrid or from the local police in another city. A fine, commensurate with the time overstayed, may be charged.

Should you be considering a stay in Spain longer than three months you should inquire with the Spanish embassy or consulate near your place of residence outside of Spain prior to entry. You may also write directly to the Spanish National Police at Calle Moratin, 43, 28014 Madrid.

Residency and work permits

American citizens wanting to study, reside, or work in Spain must obtain the appropriate visa from the Spanish Embassy or Consulate in their state/country of last residence. After the visa has been issued, foreigners have three months to apply for the corresponding permit with the Spanish authorities in Spain.

Obtaining a residence or work permit is a complicated process; since regulations change continually, we suggest that you check the Ministry of Interior’s website, or call the Ministry of Interior, within Spain, toll-free at 060.”

Spanish Embassy in Washington, United States of America
2375 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037
United States
City: Washington
Phone: (1 202) 452-0100
Fax: (1 202) 833-5670
Web Site: http://www.spainemb.org
Email: embespus@mail.mae.es/spain@spainemb.org

Jobs for US Citizens Summary

This article has been written for the many US citizens who have sent in their questions about work in Spain, some of these questions are listed below and answered above:

  • Do you have a list of jobs in Madrid?
  • Are there jobs in Barcelona?
  • Is it legal for Americans to move to Spain?
  • What is it like living in Spain and is it more expensive than the USA?
  • Are there any internships in Spain for Americans?
  • What US companies have head offices in Madrid or Barcelona?
  • Where have Americans found work in Spain?
  • Are there any graduate jobs in Spain?
  • Summer jobs?
  • Where are teaching jobs Spain for Americans?
  • I’m American wanting a nursing job.

If you are an American looking for work in Spain, you can always leave your jobs wanted below or if you have previously worked in Spain we would love to hear your story of what type of work you did and how you got on.

Most Popular Places in Spain To Find Work:

Most Popular Work:

Helpful Pages if Moving to Spain:

Real Stories of Moving to Spain

Long-Term Rentals & Lets

Guide to Buying Property

I Hate Spain – Shocking Truth!

We also have our Spanish jobs and work section.



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