We had an enquiry from a gentleman last year who said that he wanted to do a similar business in Spain as in the UK, which was tennis holidays. Initially, he would still be based in the UK and would fly in with his clients. We looked into the matter and advised him the following:
We have the information about the requirements regarding vehicles for use in developing a tennis activity holiday. It is good news because the vehicles do not need any special licence, or steps at the Traffic office nor the Ministry of Industry. The most important point is to be aware in case that the police stop you, that when transporting people in the car, that you must show the police something to prove that people are clients of your company.
You must have a contract with their names and document number as a proof that they are not only passengers, but they are the clients of your business. And that business cannot be an airport transfer business as that is a taxi and not permitted, as there are strict rules about licences for taxis. Fines for airport transports and taxiing can be very expensive.
So it is essential to always have your company set- up documentation in your car, and the client paperwork with you at any time you are transporting passengers, to prove that you are transporting them for free, as a courtesy car, as part of another main service. Then the car has to be classified as a “Tourism” of maximum nine seats. It can not be a van. It is highly recommended to be a labelled car with the company logo.
The police do most of the controls at airports, so you must take care that your clients do not pay any money to you when they are getting out of the car at the airport, as that would then appear as if you were merely acting as a taxi when you are a proper business.
If you are registered as a legal company or self-employed in Spain then you are permitted to transport passengers as long as it is part of the service of another main business (such as the tennis holidays). To be legal the new business must be registered in Spain. If not, then a client can register the home country company in Spain to trade, but this option is expensive and may have implications in the home country.
To be fully legal our customer can set up an SL company in Spain, being resident back home, to trade or he can sign an agreement with a registered company/sole trader here in Spain to provide to him the service to take people around.
So in summary, someone has to be registered legally as a business in Spain, and have the transport of people included with his main business activity (for example of tennis holidays). They must be clients and the driver to be able to show he is the owner of the company or employed by it and have all relevant documentation on them if stopped to avoid a fine, showing that a service or product has been contracted (not an airport run)
We also spoke to an officer in the N332 Group of Guardia Civil who said the following:
” I just read the text about the person who would like to do tennis holidays legally. It is similar to the situation that there are many apart-hotels or apartments paying someone to go to pick up people from airports, who are then paid by the clients. When we stop cars or vans doing this, we ask if the car is in the name of the aparthotel, and are they doing a free courtesy service of airport pickups etc.. The person/entity that is invoicing the client has to be the apart-hotel (no one can invoice the client for this service, it must be included in the package and must be free) or the proprietor of the apart-hotel or apartment. If it is not in the name of the apart-hotel, then the person driving has to have worked for the apart-hotel for more than 30 months. ( The driver must prove his employment relationship with the company which the apart-hotel, it does not matter how many days or months is working for it) or it is sanctionable offence.
Then the car has to be classified as a “Tourism” of maximum nine seats- (It can be a van or a car, depending on the needs of the client. For example, a van with 5 seats goes to the airport to pick up clients to play golf and all their material, so on this particular case, a van is required- it does not matter the car used provided that is into the business name and the worker works for it.
So in this case, the vehicle, say up to 9 seats, has to be in the name of the tennis company or the name of the owner of the tennis company and the best advice is that when a client hires the package or service the voucher or bill should clearly say to play tennis. You absolutely can not charge to pick up and take someone to the airport, it can only be a free courtesy service, like estate agents do for their clients, and not paid for as this is not permitted. Taxiing would be a public service (remember public liability and what insurance will cover in the event of an accident), strictly regulated, and can only be done by taxis and they have a special plaque that says SP, which costs a lot of money. Breaking this rule can lead to fines of up to 3,000€.