The labour market (mercat de treball) is formed by employers and workers.

Employers contribute to economic growth by carrying out activities, for which they provide money and/or their own labour.

Workers contribute to economic growth through their labour, their knowledge, their experience and their training.

A) Working for somebody else (treball per compte d'altri) involves performing certain services for and following the instructions of an employer in exchange for a wage, as part of an economic activity (company, business, etc.) carried out by the employer in question.

Relationships between employers and workers are governed by labour regulations and must fulfil two basic requisites. Firstly, both employers and workers have to pay contributions (cotitzacions) to finance Social Security, Spain's social protection system.

Secondly, an employment contract (contracte laboral) must be established in writing and registered at the employment offices of the Catalan government (Oficines de Treball de la Generalitat de Catalunya) in almost every case. Even if a contract is established verbally (only in a few very specific cases established by law), you always have the option of requesting it in writing.

B) Self-employment (treball per compte propi) consists of working and carrying out an economic activity without being answerable to an employer. You yourself act as your own employer, and earn income for your activity. . An example of self-employment might involve you starting up your own business (an electrical goods and hardware store, a butcher's, a hairdresser's, a shop, etc.) and working there.

Everyone who starts up their own business must obtain the required permits and licences, such as a municipal building permit (llicència municipal d'obres) or an opening licence (llicència d'obertura), through their town or city council or the tax authority (Agència Tributària) . It may also be necessary to pay tax on economic activities (Impost sobre Activitats Econòmiques or IAE).

If you are a foreigner from a non-EU country, you will also need a self-employment permit (autorització de treball per compte propi). You can apply for an initial permit through embassies and consulates in your country of origin.


a. You must meet the requirements in terms of the licences and permits needed for starting up and carrying out your chosen economic activity.

b. You must have sufficient accredited experience and the required qualifications to exercise professions for which a specific ratification (homologació) process has to be performed, as well as the necessary guild membership (col·legiació), if applicable.

c. You must be able to show that the investment you have planned for starting up your business is sufficient, and that your business meets the criteria of the Spanish Ministry of Work and Social Affairs (abbreviated to MTAS in Catalan) in terms of the creation of jobs.

d. You must provide a forecast stating that you will earn at least enough money for your maintenance and accommodation in the first year of operation of your business.

e. You must not have a criminal record in Spain or in other countries in which you have previously lived.

f. You must not be illegally present in Spain.

The Catalan government offers advice on self-employment (autoocupació/autoempresa) projects at:

Or via the Agency of Competitiveness for Companies in Catalonia (Agència per a la Competitivitat de l'Empresa) at:

The websites in question also contain full information on the bodies and centres that work with the Catalan government (Generalitat de Catalunya) in your local area. Those bodies and centres offer free information on starting up businesses.