How to beat Brexit and find a summer job in Spain

Thousands of young people traveled to Spanish seaside resorts every year to work during the summer season to fill jobs that could not be filled locally. From bar and restaurant workers to holiday reps and contract tourism roles, the annual influx of seasonal workers has helped boost local economies and provided valuable life experience for those who have taken the plunge.

Tourism is one of Spain’s most important markets and it remains a popular destination for British tourists (over 18 million visited the country in 2019). British citizens can still enter the country for short stays without a visa for up to 90 days for tourism.

However, longer stays or travel for other purposes, such as work or residence, now require an appropriate Spanish visa for UK citizens.

An estimated 25,000 young people in the UK were working in temporary overseas jobs before Brexit, but that number has plummeted, leading to staff shortages in popular resort towns like Ibiza, Benidorm and Magaluf. Hospitality bosses in popular resorts have reported major staff shortages – with around 4,000 vacancies in the Costa Blanca region alone.

There is no doubt that seasonal employment is now more difficult for Britons, but it is still possible to find summer work – but be prepared for lots of forms and bureaucracy.

Workers who are not from EU countries must obtain a work visa in order to live and work in Spain. Without a work visa, a company cannot legally employ non-EU citizens. Prospective employers must first prove that they cannot find a qualified EU worker to fill the position before they can hire non-EU staff.

This means that work in bars and restaurants can be hard to come by – although there is a shortage of waiters and chefs. Hiring a non-EU citizen can be an expensive process for employers, so obtaining a work visa is difficult, but not impossible.

There are many types of Spanish work visas. Most require applicants to obtain a permit from a Spanish embassy or consulate in the individual’s home country. However, for some types of visas, the prospective employer makes the initial application on behalf of the employee.



TUI staff greet passengers at Palma de Mallorca airport

Visas are also available for family members of EU nationals, for students wishing to study abroad, entrepreneur visas (for those wishing to set up a business in Spain) and the “Golden Visa” for those investing €500,000 or more in Spain.

To work in Spain as a highly qualified employee, non-EU citizens must find a job listed as a ‘shortage occupation’. This is a job for which there is a lack of suitable candidates within the EU. The employer must then apply for a work visa from the Ministry of Labour.

Work permit applications can take up to eight months to process, so advance planning is required. Once the Ministry of Labor approves the application, the embassy or consulate issues the work and residence visa.

The process for obtaining a work visa for seasonal workers is similar to the process for highly skilled workers. Employers must apply for the visa on behalf of the worker from the Spanish government.

In addition to this process, seasonal workers must demonstrate that they have suitable accommodation, that their travel costs are covered and that they will return to their country when the work is completed. Visas are valid for the duration of the employment contract.

Self-employed persons must apply for a work visa at a Spanish consulate or embassy. These are valid for one year but can be renewed if all conditions are still met. Required documentation includes:

  • Proof of sufficient financial resources to support yourself
  • Evidence of relevant skills and experience
  • A business plan (if applicable)
  • All company contracts or commissions
  • Any required licenses or registrations (industry or job specific)

One of the biggest employers of British nationals in Spain – and other EU countries – is tour operator TUI. Although Brexit has forced the travel company to change its employment policy, it still employs British overseas passport holders.



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TUI recruits every year to fill 1,000 positions abroad. It is hiring resort staff in destinations such as Antalya, Crete, Mallorca and Rhodes – and some jobs are open to Britons despite post-Brexit employment rules.

The group employs tour guides, childcare experts, fitness trainers and employees for the entertainment areas of its own hotels and clubs.

Some of these positions are filled directly in the destinations, but the employees are also recruited in the countries of origin of the TUI vacationers. The travel agency covers the costs of accommodation on site, travel to and from the destination as well as the necessary visas and work permits.

The company says: “We always hire UK representatives where we can outside the EU or where we can get official work permits for UK nationals inside the EU, this is not not so easy these days, but we’re trying.”

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