Setting-up a branch vs. subsidiary in Spain

A branch and a subsidiary are the two main legal forms through which foreign investors can develop their activity in Spain. A subsidiary is an independent and autonomous legal entity, unlike its parent company, which participates in the market on its account and risk. A branch is a secondary establishment completely dependent on its parent company, being a mere extension of the latter on Spanish territory.

Branch vs. Subsidiary

Even though establishing a branch and a subsidiary generally follow a very similar process — the granting of a public deed of incorporation before a Notary and registration in the corresponding Spanish Commercial Registry requirements are the same. Both entities have several differences, which one should consider when deciding between one and the other. The most significant differences are those summarized in the table below:




Legal personality

Does not have its legal personality (it is the same legal entity as its foreign parent Company).

A subsidiary does have its legal personality. It is for all legal purposes a legal entity, independent from its foreign parent Company. It is subject to the rights and obligations it contracts independently from the ones undertaken by its parent Company.

Minimum share capital

Does not require a minimum share capital or economic allocation at the time of its establishment. Nonetheless, this does not prevent the parent Company from deciding on the attribution of the capital it considers appropriate for its branch.

3.000 € or 60.000 €, depending on whether it is established as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a Public Limited Company (PLC) respectively.

Board of administration and governing body

The representative of a branch (acts as an agent within the limit of the powers granted to him by the parent Company).

General meeting of Partners/Shareholders and a corresponding governing body (sole director, joint or solidary directors or Board of directors).

Liability of the parent Company

Unlimited liability: a foreign parent Company must assume, without limitation, the responsibilities contracted by its branch.

Liability is limited to the contributions made: a subsidiary itself is liable with all of its assets for the debts it has contracted without affecting, in principle, its foreign parent Company.


First, the rules of the corresponding Double-Taxation Agreement apply. In its absence, a branch is subject to the Income of Non-Residents for all the income obtained in Spain, the applicable general tax rate being 25%. As a distinctive feature, a branch may fiscally deduct the corresponding general administration and management expenses.

The subsidiary is always subject to the tax on Spanish Companies whose general tax rate is 25%. Unlike a branch, a subsidiary can deduct the payments made to its foreign parent Company in the form of royalties, interests or commissions.

See Infographic

For additional information to set up a branch or a subsidiary in Spain,

Please note that this article is not intended to provide legal advice.

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