Types of Business Licences & Permits

Business licence

Any investor wishing to start a business in Spain must be aware that they will need certain types of business licences or permits issued by the local authorities for certain economic activities.

If you intend to open a travel agency, repair shop or tattoo studio, a licence is required, which may vary depending on the specific nature of the business.

Opening Licence

Businesses must apply for and obtain a Municipal Open Licence. This licence, as its name implies, gives the right to open an establishment to the public and to start developing a business.

In the vast majority of cases, the opening licence is granted by the relevant Town Hall, although there may be cases where other types of permits are granted by other supra-municipal administrations (supermarkets, large theme parks, industrial enterprises).

Types of the Opening Licences:

> Commercial license (hairdresser, gyms, office, beauty centres, etc.);

> Industrial license (workshops, warehouses, building, etc.);

> License for specific projects and alternative energies (photovoltaic, air conditioning, fire-fighting, solar thermal, etc.);

> Sanitary license (medical centres, dental clinics, veterinary clinics, etc.);

> Recreational license (hotels, restaurants, dance clubs, theatres, galleries, etc.).

The cost of the licence depends on the intended business activity, and there may be different requirements depending on the district or county in which the business is located.

The only document that must be presented to the Town Hall is a certificate of registration.

Construction permits

If you want to change the premises in which you work – demolish some parts, modernise, build a new structure, etc., you need a building permit, for which you pay a fee.

Spanish construction licences are divided into two categories:

> For large construction projects;

> For small construction projects.

In Spain, there are four main permits required to carry out construction work and the subsequent operation of a building. These permits are issued by the local authorities.

Municipal Works Permit (Licencia de Obras)

The purpose of this permit is to verify that the proposed work complies with the applicable planning regulations. It is required for any type of construction project, including the renovation or extension of existing buildings as well as demolition work.

Municipal Activity Permit (Licencia de instalación de actividades)

The purpose of this permit is to confirm that the project complies with the health and safety standards set out in the city’s zoning regulations. The permitted use of the building and the activities in the building are subject to the uses permitted in the relevant City zoning regulations.

Municipal First Occupancy Permit (Licencia de Primera Ocupación)

This permit confirms that the structure has been erected following the specifications of the relevant building permit. It is usually issued after the structure has been checked by technical experts from the competent authority.

Municipal Opening Permit (Licencia de Funcionamiento)

This approval confirms that the technical specifications set out in the type of approval have been properly complied with and that the building can therefore be used for the purposes described in the type approval.

Environmental permits

Environmental permits in Spain are legal documents that certify that the permit holder carries out its business activities following the environmental regulations in force in Spain.

Therefore, any company in Spain that carries out activities that harm the environment must obtain an environmental permit.

Entrepreneurs who need to obtain an environmental permit in Spain should be aware that the issuance of documents is based on a three-tier system. The most basic entity issuing environmental permits is the country’s autonomous communities, which have the power to establish the basic legal requirements in this matter.

Permits for polluted land

If an investor acquires land in Spain that has previously been subject to any kind of pollution, he is legally obliged to carry out due diligence and check whether the land in question is still exposed to any risk (provided that the land in question has been used to develop a potentially environmentally hazardous business activity).

To do so, landowners must submit a non-intrusive report.

In the case of local businesses carrying out a variety of economic activities that are considered to be of some degree harmful to the environment, a preliminary report must be submitted no later than two years after the commencement of the activity.

The Spanish regulations also state that certain business activities require certain special permits. This can apply to companies operating in agriculture, import-export, information technology and many other sectors.

It is also important to know that the Spanish permit includes legal and technical requirements that each applicant must comply with, depending on their particular field of activity.

GM Tax Consultancy advises on the various types of licences available for commercial or business premises, whether they are open to the public or not. Contact our tax advisors in Barcelona by email or phone.

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