Working in Spain: How to deal with Spanish bureaucracy

Article by Marc Vervoort

Working in Spain means you’ll have to deal with Spanish infamous bureaucracy. The government, banks, notaries and so on, love long, confusing forms with even more confusing explanations. This can be daunting at first, but with our tips, you’ll beat the system and get things done.

Get a gestor

The gestor is a Spanish phenomenon. It’s a special person who deals with all aspects of the Spanish bureaucracy for you. A good gestor understands the ins and outs of the bureaucracy and knows with whom to speak to get things moving. It can make all the difference.

For a gestor, you can pay a monthly fee or per assignment. If you’re going to start a business, we highly recommend you get a skilled English speaking gestor and also a lawyer.

Get plugged in with el Enchufe

In Spain, to expedite things, it matters who you know. Of course, your network is always important, but in Spain, it’s even more so.  It’s called el Enchufe. It literally means a plug and touches all aspects of Spanish society. Be it your place of work, jumping the cue at the tax office or becoming a member of the local club.

So, if you need to file paperwork, always ask around if anybody knows someone who works at that office. You’ll still have to submit the correct items, but it will make things go smoother and faster. It’s the magic of el Enchufe.

Smile and be patient

Spanish bureaucracy can be frustrating, however, don’t let it put you down. The Spanish are generally very open and chatty, which can even make waiting in line fun. Additionally, if you have the right official in front of you and you’re friendly to them, they might help you a lot faster. Remember: you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Take a Spanish speaker with you

Many Spaniards speak little to no English, especially those in government jobs. So, if you’re not using a gestor, take a Spanish speaking friend or colleague with you who. If that’s not possible, just use your hand, feet, and Google translate. Prepare some basic things in Spanish beforehand. In general, people will do their best to help you out.

In the end, just remember that numerous expats before you have successfully navigated the waters of Spanish bureaucracy. You’ll be fine.

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