Spain’s new digital nomad visa: everything you need to know

It’s a genuinely fascinating and exciting time to be digitally nomadic right now. If you have the wherewithal to become self-employed, and the sense of adventure to work around the world, the timing couldn’t be better.

We’re in the aftermath of a pandemic, and the world is truly opening up again. Travel restrictions owing to the pandemic are largely non-existent at this point, and governments around the world are looking for ambitious self-starters to work in their countries, on a self-employment basis.

This is particularly true in Europe, where 15 countries so far have digital nomad advantages. If you’re a teacher of English as a foreign language, this is an acutely tempting time to get the show on the road and travel while you work. Yes, you have to earn over a certain threshold – different countries have different contribution minimums – but if you’ve already started as an online teacher, and you have all the equipment you need (including a passport), then you’ll be delighted to know Spain has joined the movement.

Yes – the fascinating, beautiful and culturally diverse nation of España is starting up its own digital nomad programme. Like its European counterparts, visas are being offered to self-employed travellers who make over a certain threshold, and we’ll discuss just what that means for TEFLers!

What is a digital nomad? 

First things first, what is a “digital nomad”? Well, if the introduction didn’t clear things up quite enough, it’s simple. A digital nomad is someone who works online and travels worldwide. Countries will have specific guidelines and visa rules for digital nomads, but essentially, being a digital nomad means making the world your office.

TEFL teachers are excellent digital nomad material. Teachers of English as a foreign language can set up as freelancers and travel the world while teaching online. Being an occupation that lends itself extremely well to remote working, the TEFL industry has seen plenty of home workers travel across Europe and beyond, maintaining a vigorous schedule of teaching as they go. There are plenty of examples, here’s one for a taste of that kind of lifestyle.

In essence, you get the best of both worlds if you’re a TEFL-ing digital nomad. You want to work abroad? Sure, you can do that. You want to teach English abroad, specifically? That’s fine – if you’re freelance, you don’t have to change anything about your work life. You want to be your own boss, set your own hours and be accountable for your earnings? Consider all those boxes ticked.

Colourful buildings in Barcelona

What are the requirements for Spain’s digital nomad visa?

So, back to the Spain story. In September, the Spanish Government outlined their intentions to set up a digital nomad culture. Working visa regulations have changed and, according to the Guardian:

“…visas will be offered to people who work remotely for enterprises outside Spain and who derive a maximum of 20% of their income from Spanish firms.

“[Applicants] must also demonstrate that they will earn enough to be self-sufficient and that they have an address in Spain. It is not clear yet whether they will have to undergo a criminal record check. For the first four years they will be taxed at 15%, rather than the standard 25% base rate.” 

Furthermore, applicants “must be from outside the European Economic Area and be able to demonstrate that they have been working remotely for at least a year. They must have a contract of employment or, if freelance, show that they have been regularly employed by a company outside Spain.”

Initially, these digital nomad visas are valid for a year, but can go for up to five years. In that time, you can apply for permanent residence, if you start to feel at home and want to ditch the “nomad” part of being a digital nomad. You don’t need experience to teach abroad in Spain. Non-native English speakers are welcome to apply for jobs there, and the same rule applies if it’s your own business

When will Spain’s digital nomad visa be available? 

The only drawback of this news is that the law is yet to be passed, putting Spain behind countries like Croatia and Greece, who have firmly established digital nomad schemes.

However, the new regulations for Spanish digital nomad rights is expected to pass before long. So, you can feel comfortable adding Spain to your travel itinerary, digital nomads!

Why teaching English is the best digital nomad job 

Call us biased, but teaching English online is, quite frankly, the best digital nomad job available in the market. Why’s that?

Freedom of movement

If you teach English online, firstly: congratulations! Secondly: you have far, far more freedom in your job than in others. 

Teaching English online is one of the most geographically flexible jobs you can do, along with freelance writing. Whether you’re self-employed or you work for a language teaching company, you’re not tied to a desk or a classroom in a particular locale. You can teach where you like, provided you’ve got a sturdy internet connection, the teaching skills you need (including a TEFL qualification) and a quiet enough environment to teach in. 


If you teach English online, even in the context of employment with a certain company, you can essentially become self-employed from the get-go. Once you’ve got a TEFL qualification, the choice is yours. Provided you have the entrepreneurship to attract and hold onto clients (whether it’s schools, individuals or groups), you can set your own hours, set your own rates, and even negotiate training contracts with other companies. The choice is yours.

It’s exciting!

You can make a real, tangible difference to people’s lives, even if you’re teaching online. No matter where you’re based, you can teach to students all over the world, and make friends across the globe.

As a TEFL teacher, you can prepare people of all ages for the next step in their career, education or, quite literally, their entire life. As Claire Mitchell explained to us in the ‘I Taught English Abroad’ podcast, teaching online is a way to truly help people.

A young woman sitting outside a cafe

Other ways to teach English in Spain

Not sure the digital nomad lifestyle is for you? That’s fine, too, you know. 

Spain is a major TEFL destination, and it’s no surprise. The fantastic weather, the proximity to both mainland Europe and northern Africa, and the fantastic range of cultures, dialects and traditions mean that no two trips to Spain are ever the same.

So, what about teaching English? Well, it’s important to look at the different schools on offer. Public schools are the most obvious choice, being that they’re the state-run schools in Spain. There are also specific language schools that teach English, as well as international schools stretching from Pamplona to Gran Canaria.

A great way to get into teaching in Spain is through a Language Assistant programme. The most famous of these is Meddeas, where student teachers are paid a monthly stipend, given free access to the Spanish medical system and visa guidance in exchange for some English knowledge. 

Similarly reputable is the British Council’s placement programme for Spain, while for non-EU citizens, ​​the NALCA program (North American Language and Culture Assistants in Spain), employs around 2,500 Americans and Canadians as classroom assistants. For more on placements, check out our TEFL Org Guide to Spanish jobs.

Find out everything you need to know about teaching English online with our ultimate guide!

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