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A guide to doing business in Spain

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A guide to doing business in Spain

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Spain is the fifth largest economy in the European Union and now one of the fastest growing in the Eurozone.

The population of Spain is around 47 million, making it one of the largest consumer markets in the EU. No surprise, then, that it is our eighth largest export market, with bilateral trade of goods and services amounting to over GBP 40 billion annually. The key products traded include automobiles, medical and pharmaceutical products, alcoholic beverages, fruit and vegetables, aircraft and inorganic chemicals (Source:

Benefits for UK businesses exporting to Spain include:

  • entry route to Latin America
  • size of the market
  • English accepted as a business language
  • familiarity with British products and openness to them
  • proximity and availability of flights, including low-cost airlines.

Strengths of the Spanish market include:

  • competitive cost of goods transport
  • highly efficient transportation systems
  • quality and availability of qualified suppliers
  • advanced ICT network.

Legal requirements

Once you are ready to export, make sure you understand the initial considerations, including finding a distributor or an agent who knows the local market and has valuable connections. Most UK businesses entering the Spanish market will also need a clear name search certificate from the Central Mercantile Registry. Different types of Spanish businesses operate under different regulations and may require a legalised translation of your documentation. Make sure you use a professional translation agency.

It is also not uncommon for payment terms to be between 90 and 120 days, for example. The country is also very culturally diverse with different regions having varying approaches to business. You would be wise to opt for a knowledgeable localisation service to support you through the entire set up.

Your products and packaging should meet EU standards. Particularly for the food and drinks industry, all product labels should be in Spanish and contain the following:

  • the expiry date
  • country of origin
  • all ingredients and instructions.

By partnering with an agency offering English-to-Spanish translation services, you can ensure that all your documentation, packaging and marketing materials are in the right language for legal purposes as well as ensuring an effective reach of your message.


Spanish is the official language of the entire country. However, there are several minority languages spoken in certain areas; these include Catalan (spoken in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, and Valencia); Valencian (in Valencia); Galician or Gallego (in northwest Spain); and Euskera (in the Basque area).

Even though knowledge of English is reasonably extensive in Spanish business, for most UK companies hoping to succeed in Spain, doing business in Spanish goes a long way towards showing appreciation for the local language and culture, and building trust.

Corporate culture

In the Spanish business sphere, personal values, character and relationships are very important. That is why knowing some simple points will take you a long way:

· In this slightly conservative society, personal pride and individualism are greatly valued; modesty is considered more important than assertiveness.

· How you dress in the business environment is vital as it is perceived as a reflection of your social standing and success in business.

· Keep your correspondence in Spanish wherever possible. When writing emails, use simple, concise and direct language. Instead of translating your draft using an inaccurate internet tool.

· To show respect to their culture, print your business cards in English on one side and in Spanish on the other. When handing the card to your contact, ensure the Spanish side is facing up.

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