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Spain

At-a-glance information on Spain’s business climate and culture


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Move slowly, build a relationship with prospective partners and don’t plan to visit your banker in the afternoon. Just some of the information that will come in handy when you bring your brand to Spain.

Language: Castilian Spanish

Spain's flag

This design of Spain’s flag allegedly dates back to the ninth century when the French king (known as Charles the Bald) wiped his blood-stained hands down the sides of the yellow shield of the Count of Aragon.  Whether it’s fact or fiction, it’s still a better story than Betsy Ross’s.

Religion: Roman Catholic is 94%

Population: 47.7 million

Urban Population: 77.4%

Capital: Madrid

Major Urban Areas: Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia

Literacy Rate: 97.7%

Unemployment Rate: 26%

Type of Government: Parliamentary monarchy

Time Difference: Six hours ahead of EST

Legal System: Civil law with regional variations

GDP: $1.389 trillion

GDP Ranking: 15th in world

Currency: Euro

Exchange Rate: 1.00 EUR = 1.36356 USD (at press time)

Internet Usage: 72% of population

Local Franchises: 80% of all franchises in Spain are local

U.S. Commercial Service office Madrid:
Phone: 34 91 564 8976
Fax: 34 91 563 0859
Email: madrid.office.box@trade.gov

Ease of Doing Business (ranking by The World Bank): 52nd, down from 46th in 2013

Dress Code: High-fashion brand names for clothes and accessories are noted and make a good impression

Average business hours for shops: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 4:30 to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and Saturday mornings

Average hours for professional businesses: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; then from 4 to 7 p.m. (hours are set by the government, according to the law firm Strong Abogados, in Sevilla, although some changes are occurring)

Bank Hours: From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., then by law, banks can choose either to open one afternoon a week, or on Saturday morning

Lunch hour: Between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Dinner hour: Typically 10 p.m., and a lighter meal than lunch

Business lunches: Need to be clarified beforehand, since Spaniards typically think of meals as social occasions, rather than business 

Vacations: Many Spaniards have 30 days of paid vacation and take them in June or August.

Holidays: Spain has the largest number of holidays in Europe (14), plus local and regional festivals. So be mindful of events when setting appointments and making travel plans

Common business structures: Public Limited Company (“Sociedad Anónima” or “S.A.”) and Limited Liability Company (“Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada” or “S.R.L.”)

Taxes: U.S.-Spain Tax Treaty offers certain tax exclusions and/or maximum tax rates, which an investor with tax residency in the U.S. can claim with respect to its Spanish tax responsbilities, and vice versa. 

American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), located in Barcelona
Email: amcham@amchamspain.com
Phone: 34 93 415 9963

Punctuation: Dates are written day/month/year; a comma is used, rather than a decimal point to separate the fractional part of the number from the integral number (for example, 123,45 rather than 123.45).

Sources: World Bank, U.S. Commercial Service, Baker McKenzie, Strong Abogados, Wikipedia, Doing Business in Spain.org, businessculture.org, CIA World Factbook, Kiss, Bow, Or Shake Hands. 


Barcelona

Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain (Valencia is third), with a population of 1.6 million.  It is an important cultural center and tourist destination. The Port of Barcelona is one of Europe’s busiest seaports, as is the Barcelona-El Prat Airport.

Madrid

Madrid is the 6th most attractive city in the world (following London, Paris, Beijing, Shanghai and New York), according to Informa D&B, 1Q 2012; it hosts more than 5,500 foreign companies; and is 7th in the world for attracting international conferences.

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