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What Visa Do I Need to Teach English in Spain?

Interested in teaching English in Spain and wondering what visa or work permit you'll need? Read on as we discuss the important matter or Spain work visa and Spain work permits with you.

Get Your TEFL Guide to Teach in Spain

The following are the most common types of visas that can be obtained for Spain. Just know, the type of visa you will use to teach English in Spain will depend on your nationality and perhaps other factors. Research is extremely important when deciding on which type of visa one will get and you should speak to a TEFL Advisor to discuss your specific questions and concerns.

Do You Need a Work Visa to Teach English in Spain?

In order to get a job teaching English in Spain, you will need a work visa unless you hold a passport from the European Union (EU). The type of visa you'll need will depend on your citizenship but options include a work visa, student visa, working holiday visa, or under the cultural ambassadors program.

Types of Visa to Work in Spain as an English Teacher

Here are the main Spain work visa options for teaching English in Spain:

  1. Get a student visa

  2. Work under the cultural ambassadors program

  3. Get a work visa

  4. Get a working holiday visa

  5. Get a work permit if you're an EU Citizen

  6. Get a tourist visa (not recommended)

Before you go any further and look into how to get a work visa in Spain, remember that you need to understand what are all the different types of visas. Please refer to our article, What is a visa and do I need a visa to teach English abroad?

Ready? Let's dive in:

1. Get a Student Visa

This is the most common option for Americans and graduates of International TEFL Academy looking to teach English in Spain legally. Those who plan to study in Spain at a recognized language school, university and so on may be eligible to legally work in Spain while studying.

Typically, a student visa must be processed before departing for Spain. Contact a Spanish Consulate for more information on recognized “study abroad” programs and what is required to obtain a student visa.

Read more: How to apply for a Student Visa to legally teach English in Spain.


Get a Student Visa to Teach English in Madrid or Barcelona

If you are interested in teaching English in Spain and want to learn Spanish, check out International TEFL Academy's Madrid Student Visa Program. It enables you to enroll in a year of part-time Spanish lessons and receive a Student Visa that enables Americans and other non-European Union citizens to work as full-time as English teachers. Participants also receive personal job placement assistance on the ground in Madrid.

We have a similar option in place for teaching English in Barcelona - check out our Barcelona Student Visa options. It allows for a language study other than Spanish. You can compare the two cities and their Spain Student Visa Programs as well. 


2. Work under the Cultural Ambassadors Program

Operated by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, the Cultural Ambassadors program recruits and places native English & French speakers from the U.S. & Canada as assistant language teachers in elementary and secondary schools throughout Spain

The program, which is also known as the North American Language and Culture Assistants Program- or the auxiliares de conversación (“conversation assistants”) in Spanish, recruits up to 2,500 Americans & Canadians to teach English (and in the case of some Canadians, French) in Spain each year. Participants in this program will receive the appropriate work visa to work as an English teacher.

Read more: Cultural Ambassadors Program for Spain.


3. Get a Work Visa

This type of visa is very uncommon for non-EU English teachers to receive in Spain as you need an employer to sponsor you in order to obtain one.  The majority of private language schools will not be willing to sponsor their English teachers as it is quite an expensive and long process.  Work visas are only typically given to those teachers working in public schools through the Ministry of Education program or international schools.  


4. Get a Working Holiday Visa

A working holiday visa is a permit that allows people with certain nationalities to legally work, and sometimes study, in certain countries around the world. Working holiday visas typically have restrictions and requirements, such as age limits (typically between 18 and 30 or 35), the need to prove one has sufficient funds, and more. 

Take a look at International TEFL Academy’s Working Holiday Visa Holiday Chart to see if you qualify (Americans do not). Citizens of Australia, New Zealand and Canada may be eligible to work in Spain on a working holiday visa. Please contact the Spanish consulate in your country to learn more about applying for a working holiday visa.

5. Get a Work Permit If You're an EU Citizen

Citizens from the European Union nations are able to work legally in Spain without getting a visa. However, you will need to register for a Residence Permit at the local Foreigners’ Office and apply for a tax number, known as an “NIE,” which you will need for official paperwork, taxes, etc. Typically, your employer will assist you with these matters, including your application for social security. 

General information about work permits throughout the EU can be found at:

teaching English in Spain

6. Get a Tourist Visa (Not Recommended)

In the past, tourist visas were the most common for English teachers who are not citizens of European Union (EU) nations, including Americans, to work as English teachers in Spain.  However, times have changed and at this time, International TEFL Academy does not currently recommend that Americans or others teach English in Spain on a tourist visa.  

NOTE: If you are planning on teaching English online from Spain for less than 90 days (the typical length of a standard tourist visa in Spain), then using a tourist visa may be a viable option

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