E-commerce in Spain
- Sandra Visser-Meijer
- 17 December 2019
- Edited 26 October 2023
- 4 min
- Managing and growing
With 35 million online shoppers and over 47 million people, Spain's e-commerce sector is promising. The number of Spanish people shopping online is expected to continue to grow in the coming years. Because online consumers in Spain get more products from abroad than foreigners buy products from Spanish shopping sites, there are clear-cut opportunities for Dutch business owners in the Spanish e-commerce market.
Spanish consumers have discovered online shopping and are rapidly catching up, although the number of providers is still low relative to countries such as the Netherlands and Germany. Together with Germany and France, Spain makes up the top three largest online markets in the EU, so now is the time to get in. In this article, you will find out everything you need to know about setting up an online shop in Spain.
Spanish people are price-oriented and will often look at price over quality. Check that your product meets local product ( in Dutch) and research whether Spanish consumers are interested in your product. Read this market information about Spain and discover your opportunities.
This blog by Trusted (in Dutch) explains that Spanish people mainly enjoy the convenience of e-commerce and prefer buying clothing online, with shoes and home appliances ranking second and third.
Spanish companies generally provide a lower level of service than in other countries, which can lead to disappointing experiences for consumers. In Spain, it is common for people to give online shops a ring first to verify that they are real. By providing Spanish-speaking customer service, you can assist customers in their own language, while taking orders by phone can increase your turnover.
Digital marketplaces are also popular in Spain, with (Twinkle, in Dutch) coming in first. There are also local providers in the top five, as department store chain El Corte Inglés takes silver and electronics shopping site PC Componentes takes bronze.
Spanish e-commerce regulations
Spain does not have its own local rules and regulations for e-commerce and has harmonised its laws with European rules. These rules are similar to those in the Netherlands, which makes entering the Spanish e-commerce market relatively straightforward.
Spanish packaging laws are stricter than you are used to in the Netherlands and you will have to comply with these laws if your online shop sells packaged products to Spanish consumers. Companies that place even a single gram of packaging material on the Spanish market have to be registered, while only companies with a branch in Spain have to draw up a prevention plan.
To register your company, reach out to . Important: their website is only available in Spanish. After registering, you are required to put the Green Dot on your packaging to show that it is recycled. Using this label is expected to become voluntary later this year or in 2023. Every year, you have to report how much packaging you used for your products, so it is important to keep track of how many units of packaging you sell in Spain from the moment you register. You may be fined for failing to comply with the rules.
Do you introduce more than 50,000 kilograms of packaging materials on the Dutch market? You must report this to Stichting Afvalfonds (in Dutch).
The WEEE , or ‘Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive’, states that if your online shop sells electrical and electronic devices, you are responsible for collecting and disposing of discarded devices. In Spain, you have to list your online shop in the general register of the ‘Ministerio de Industria, Comercio y ’ (in Spanish), the organisation responsible for implementing this EU directive in Spain.
Register a local domain name
You can register a website with an .es domain extension with Dutch hosting companies without having to meet any special requirements or conditions. Anyone is free to register domain names that have not yet been taken.
E-commerce trust marks
The Spanish umbrella organisation for e-commerce is (in Spanish). Confianza (in Spanish) is a widely known e-commerce trust mark in Spain and Spanish consumers are more likely to trust sites with this label, which is similar to the Dutch Thuiswinkel.org trust mark. Confianza provides mediation services in the event of a dispute between a consumer and one of their members.
Spanish people prefer paying via PayPal, TPV Virtual, by credit card or bank transfer. If you allow your customers to pay by bank transfer, set up a Spanish bank account to facilitate the payment process. With other payment methods like buy now pay later or cash on delivery, customers do not have to pay for their order right away. With these payment methods, you may be able to convince Spanish consumers who have never ordered products online before.
VAT on distance sales Spain
If your online shop sells products to Spanish consumers, the 'destination country principle' applies. This rule also applies to entrepreneurs who are not subject to VAT and to legal entities that are not entrepreneurs, which means that you have to charge Spanish VAT to Spanish consumers. The European has a website with information about Spanish VAT rates and the VAT rates of other member states. The Spanish word for VAT is IVA; Impuesto al Valor Agregado.
There are two ways to file overseas VAT returns.
- The first way is to apply for a Spanish VAT number and file local VAT returns in Spain.
- The second way is to sign your company up for the Union scheme under the One-Stop-Shop system of the Dutch tax authorities, who will then pass on the VAT to Spain.
f your total sales to Spanish consumers and your other intra-EU consumer sales remain below the €10,000 threshold, you are allowed to continue to charge Dutch VAT as a Dutch online shop. Find out everything you need to know about VAT and international business.
- Tailor your online shop to the local market. Spanish consumers should feel at home on your site, so use a Spanish address and phone number.
- Have your copy, banners, contact details, and emails translated into Spanish by a professional translator.
- For even better results, use Google Keyword Planner and give your translator a list of preferred words. Avoid English copy. Using well-translated Spanish copy improves your findability in search engines such as Google.
Spain’s National Authority for Markets and (CNMC, in Spanish) has published figures on e-commerce in Spain, showing that online revenue reached €51.6 billion in 2020. This was an increase of 5.8% compared to 2019, and CNMC figures also show that e-commerce revenue increased another 11.7% in 2021, amounting to €57.7 billion.
If you do not want to set up your own online shop in Spain, selling your products on an overseas marketplace may be an option for you.