I get a few e-mails from Americans asking about working in Spain, so here are a few tips I picked up from a recent chat with an American girl who has been working out here for over two years with no EU citizenship and no problems whatsoever. (Of course these rules apply to all non-EU citizens.)
One: You can work! You will find work, mostly English teaching, then bar work and maybe tour guiding. Employers in these fields are prepared to pay non-EU nationals – in cash. But don’t worry, you can open a bank account in Spain with no trouble at all. Bigger cities will have more opportunities, so if in doubt start with Barcelona or Madrid.
Two: The return ticket. Arriving at a Spanish airport from the US with no return ticket is likely to be an expensive mistake. You will probably be forced to buy one there and then, in the airport, at a hugely increased price. You may be able to get a refund afterwards though, so it might not be the end of the world.
Three: The 90 day rule. In theory your entry visa is good for 90 days, but don’t worry, if you spend longer in Spain you will not be thrown into jail or banned from coming back when you try to leave. Just have an excuse handy (“My Spanish studies lasted longer than I had anticipated…”, for example…)
Four: Spending. Don’t turn up with travelers cheques, they are a pain to convert into cash. Just your regular cashpoint card is fine. Match the symbols on the back with those on Spanish cashpoints if you get confused! (Is ‘cashpoint’ only British English? ATM’s then…) And be prepared to spend. The dollar is better than it was but many a traveler arrives in Spain expecting the cheap country it once was. Times have changed…
Only 4? Well there isn’t much more to it than that. The situation is pretty much as I expected, having met many Americans working in Spain with no trouble at all. Just get over here and start having fun: enough excuses already!
Any comments, suggestions, criticisms or refutations welcome, just use the comments link below. Or click here for the Tips archive.