Starting a B&B in Spain outside a residential zone is no easy task. Most zones in Spain's interior are zoned as agricultural and forest areas. These zones therefore do not serve tourist purposes, which means you cannot just start a B&B in Spain. Therefore, this article provides a roadmap on how to set up a B&B in the interior of the Comunidad Valenciana.
Step 1. Pre-project : preparation of the Declaración de Interés Communitario
Since you may need a zoning change in the interior to start a tourism activity, you will first need to apply to the municipality through the Declaración de Interés Communitario (hereinafter: DIC). Only if your property is larger than 5,000 sq m will you be eligible for a zoning change.
This means you must submit a pre-project to the municipality. By a pre-project, we mean a presentation of the B&B, supported by an architect's study and an impact analysis. An architect needs about 1 to 3 months to do this.
Once you have submitted the necessary documentation to the municipality, the municipal council will judge your project. The municipality also takes about 1 to 3 months to do this.
Step 2. Final project: municipal approval for the DIC
After pre-project approval, you can start submitting your final project. For this too, you will need the help of an architect. For example, the architect will need to conduct environmental studies and get confirmation from the electricity and water companies on security of supply.
Two considerations are important here. On the one hand, the municipality must ensure that the zoning change does not have a negative impact on the surrounding (agricultural) environment. On the other hand, the B&B should meet the minimum standards to accommodate customers in a full-fledged manner.
After you submit the final project, the municipality will judge whether or not the zoning change is in the interest of the local community. Expect a period of up to about 2 years before you will receive the final project and municipal approval.
Step 3. Final project - higher authority approval for the DIC
If the municipality has given its approval, you need to submit an application to the regional government. Only when all the departments involved (tourism, environment, etc.) have given their approval can the zoning change take place. At worst, the regional government can take up to 3 years to give its approval.
Exceptions to the DIC
Important: in certain cases, you do not need a DIC to start. For example, you will obviously not need to submit a DIC if your property is in a residential zone.
If your project meets the requirements of a Casa Rural, you do not have to go through the long procedure for a zoning change either. In that case, you can request an exception for a DIC from the municipality. The condition is that you do not expand the existing buildings on your property by more than 20% in total.
Step 4. Apply for operating licence
Once the works have been completed and you have obtained the DIC, you can apply to the municipality for an operating licence. This again involves coming to present your project to the municipality, but the commercial side of things. Getting an operating licence can take up to four years.
Step 5. Register your self-employed activity
The final step is to register your business in the commercial register, similar to the Belgian CBE. You will also need a food licence if you wish to serve breakfast. Finally, you need to register with the tourism department of the regional government.
Starting a B&B in Spain is not something you do in a short period of time. Before you can start a tourist activity in a Spanish agricultural environment, you have to go through a long and costly procedure. In addition, you need to be able to count on goodwill from the local government authorities. If you wish to start a B&B in the interior, it might be interesting to also think about a Casa Rural.