Logo Guide to Business in Spain

7Internationalization incentives

Although it is not the aim of this publication to address incentives for Spanish investment abroad, this section is included in view of the obvious interest that Spanish investment abroad has sparked in foreign investors as a platform for international expansion.

In this context, please note that the official financial instruments approved by the Spanish government to provide official support for the internationalization of business are, inter alia:

  • FIEM (enterprise internationalization fund, managed by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism through the Office of the Secretary of State for Trade).
  • FIEX (fund for investments abroad, managed by the Spanish Development Finance Company – Compañía Española de Financiación del Desarrollo or “COFIDES”).
  • FONPYME (operating fund for SME investments abroad, managed by COFIDES).
  • CRECE + INTERNACIONAL (line of financing managed by COFIDES through COFIDES, FONPYME or FIEX funds).
  • Pyme Invierte (managed by COFIDES).
  • Programs for the Conversion of Debt into Investment managed by the Ministry of Economy and Enterprise.
  • The ICO Internationalization, Support for Exports Lines, etc.

Of all the foregoing financial instruments, particular regard must be had to the FIEM, the FIEX and the FONPYME, as well as the lines promoted by ICO in connection with internationalization, such as "Línea ICO-Internacional", "Línea ICO-Exportadores" and "Línea ICO-Canal Internacional".

Certain lines for the financing of specific sectors of economic activity (such as, inter alia, the FINTEC or FINCONCES lines targeted at new technologies industries or infrastructure concession), which had been offered by COFIDES and to which we referred in previous versions of the Guide, are no longer operative. This is because COFIDES has considered it more suitable (in the interest of greater simplification) to offer financing to all enterprises, regardless of the sector in which they operate, through the same lines of financing:


The FIEM is a fund without separate legal personality, created by Law 11/2010, of June 28, 2010, and conceived with the sole aim of offering official financial support for the internationalization of Spanish companies and for the implementation of direct investments abroad. To this end, it offers financing for (i) the conclusion of contracts for the export of Spanish goods and services, signed by companies resident in Spain with nonresident customers (FIEM Export), (ii) as well as for foreign investment projects undertaken by Spanish companies to expand their production capacity (FIEM Investment) or (ii) the provision of goods or services, on a concessional or commercial basis, respectively (Projects under the Project Finance scheme).

Specifically, the FIEM finances (i) transactions and projects of special interest to the strategy to internationalize the Spanish economy; (ii) the technical assistance required by such transactions and projects and (iii) technical assistance and consultancy services of special interest to the internationalization strategy, the objective of which is the preparation of viability, feasibility and pre-feasibility studies, studies related to the modernization of economic sectors or regions, and consulting services aimed at institutional modernization of an economic nature35.

However, the following will not be financed out of the Fund: (i) exports of defense, paramilitary and police materials to be used by the armed forces, police forces and security forces or the anti-terrorist services or (ii) projects related to certain basic social services such as education, health and nutrition, unless the latter have a major ripple effect on internationalization and have a high technology content.

Potential recipients of financing from this Fund are foreign central governments and foreign Public, Regional, Provincial and Local authorities, as well as enterprises, groupings and consortiums of foreign publicly-owned and private enterprises, not only from developed countries but also from developing countries. In this respect, although projects undertaken anywhere in the world are eligible, each year Guidelines are approved containing a list of priority countries.36

In exceptional cases, FIEM aid may be granted to international organizations, provided that there is a clear commercial interest, from the point of view of internationalization of the Spanish economy, in the corresponding contribution.

The Office of the Secretary of State for Trade (included within the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism) is responsible for managing the FIEM and, accordingly, for (i) selecting the projects to be financed, (ii) drawing up the profiles and viability studies required to analyze the projects, (iii) assessing financing proposals and (iv) overseeing the execution and assessment of the projects. For its part, the Official Credit Institute (ICO) acts as finance agent, formalizing, in the name and behalf of the Spanish government and on behalf of the State, the relevant credit, loan or donation agreements as well as all the financial services relating to authorized transactions financed by the FIEM (i.e. technical implementation, accounting, treasury, paying agent, monitoring, etc.). The ICO disburses the funds to the company executing the project, as and when said company submits to a partnering credit institution located in Spain, the documentation evidencing the achievement of the milestones of the relevant commercial agreement.

The three types of financing offered through the FIEM are: (i) loans, credits or credit facilities repayable on commercial terms; (ii) loans, credits or credit facilities repayable on concessional terms and (iii) non-repayable financing for investment projects, of which full details and conditions can be found in the information published by the Secretary of State for Trade on its website.


The purpose of the FIEX , which was created by Law 66/1997, of December 30, 1997, is to foster the internationalization and business activities of Spanish companies and, in general, the Spanish economy, through direct investments in minority and short-term interests in the equity of companies located, in juridical terms, outside Spain, specifically through holdings in the capital (equity) or quasi-equity instruments (coinvestment loans, etc.) in viable private projects abroad in which there is some type of Spanish interest.

The maximum amount of the financing is €30,000,000 subject to a minimum amount of €250,000. Applications must be submitted to COFIDES, which is the manager of the Fund.


The FONPYME is intended to finance direct short-term and minority holdings in the capital stock or equity of small and medium-sized Spanish companies for their internationalization, or of companies located outside Spain (but in which there is some kind of Spanish interest), through participative financial instruments.

Additionally, according to the provisions of Royal Decree 321/2015, of April 24, 2015, direct short-term and minority holdings may also be acquired in “capital expansion funds” or vehicles with official support, whether already existing or to be established, and in private investment funds, provided that they foster the internationalization of the Spanish enterprise or economy.

The maximum amount of the financing is €5,000,000, with a minimum of €75,000 per transaction. Applications must be submitted to COFIDES, which is the manager of the Fund.


This program, through capital or quasi-capital instruments, finances the establishment in new markets of SMEs and small and mid-capitalization companies, and the growth of such companies in markets in which they already have a presence.

This Program, which is managed by COFIDES, is targeted at Spanish companies with subsidiaries abroad that meet a number of requirements, such as (i) having an expansion plan that involves internationalization projects that fulfill certain conditions (the projects must be technically and economically viable, mobilize resources in the medium to long terms and have a positive impact on the country receiving the investment), (ii) having a controlling interest in the subsidiary, (iii) having audited financial statements reflecting revenues of between 10 and 150 million euros and sufficient EBITDA, (iv) having a workforce of between 10 and 500 employees, (v) having a sustainable financial position, and (vi) having sound and verifiable financial projections that reflect expected growth in revenues and/or employment in the period concerned.

The program can take various forms, depending on the objective to be fulfilled through the internationalization of the business, namely: (i) CRECE + INTERNACIONAL (linked to the company’s growth plan); (ii) CRECE + INTERNACIONAL + DIGITA (involving the digitalization of the subsidiary or subsidiaries of industrial companies); (iii) CRECE + INTERNACIONAL + EDUCA (training of personnel in the target country); and (iv) CRECE + INTERNACIONAL + SOSTIENE (to promote good practices in the areas of Corporate Social Responsibility and sustainability).

The financing may be between €1,000,000 and €30,000,000, the maximum being up to 90% of the need for investment in assets.


This line, which is managed by COFIDES and ICEX Spain Imports and Exports, offers financing to Spanish SMEs that wish to undertake either a productive investment project outside Spain with financing needs in the medium or long term (more than 3 years), or a start-up of commercial activities outside Spain. Maximum financing will vary according to the SME’s objectives:

  • In productive investments, the amounts will vary between €75,000 and €10,000,000 and comprise financing of up to 80% of the project’s medium and long-term needs, through ordinary and co-investment loans to the Spanish company, subsidiary or branch abroad. The period of financing will be between 5 and 10 years.

    These investments must be aimed at creating or expanding a company or acquiring a pre-existing company, or at financing non-current assets.

  • In start-ups of commercial activities, the investment will range from €75,000 though €1,000,000 and will comprise financing of up to 80% of the expenses associated with the enterprise’s commercial implementation (expenses incurred on structure, salaries, wages and associated promotional expenses incurred by the subsidiary or branch), through ordinary or coinvestment loans to the Spanish company, subsidiary or branch abroad. The maximum repayment period is 3 years without a grace period.

    This financing is targeted at projects that have an income-generating portfolio of customers in the country in which the investment is to be made.

F. 2023 ICO International Line

Línea ICO-Internacional 2023” is aimed at self-employed persons and enterprises domiciled in Spain or abroad but which have a Spanish interest and wish to pursue activities outside Spain.

The application for financing must be submitted to the credit institution that partners with the ICO on this product, and the client can arrange transactions with such institution throughout 2023.

The financing can be used for investment projects and/or the general needs of the activity, including, among others: (i) new or second-hand productive fixed assets; (ii) vehicles and industrial vehicles; (ii) acquisition of companies; (iv) creation of enterprises abroad; (v) technological needs; (vi) upgrade and reform of installations; (vii) investments outside Spain; (viii) acquisition of companies or (ix) liquidity needs: operating expenses, payroll, payments to supplies, purchases of merchandise, etc.

The maximum financing is €12.5 million or its equivalent in US dollars (USD) per customer per year, in one or more transactions and may be executed in the form of a loan, leasing arrangement or line of credit.

The repayment period and grace periods are: (i) from 1 to 6 years, with the possibility of a grace period of up to one year for the repayment of principle; (ii) from 7 to 9 years, with the possibility of a grace period of up to 2 years, (iii) or of 10, 12, 15 or 20 years, with the possibility of a grace period of up to 3 years for the repayment of principal.

The APR on the operation may not exceed the following thresholds:

  • For operations with a term equal to 1 year: A fixed or variable rate (euros or US dollars), plus up to 2.30%.
  • ­For operations with a term of 2, 3 or 4 years: A fixed or variable rate (euros or US dollars), plus up to 4%.
  • For operations with a term of 5 years or more: A fixed or variable rate (euros or US dollars), plus up to 4.30%.

This type of financing may be combined with other aid granted by the Autonomous Communities and other public institutions.

The customer can choose between a fixed or variable interest rate in the currency in which the transaction was executed.

Lastly, with regard to fees, it is to be noted that the financial institutions can charge a fee at the start of the operation, although the cost of such fee plus the interest rate may not exceed the maximum APR which the institution is able to apply to the operation based on its term.

Similarly, credit institutions can apply a voluntary early repayment fee which is generally 1% of the amount cancelled if the transaction was executed at a fixed rate. Where it was executed at a variable rate, a maximum fee of 0.5% will be applied, depending on the residual life of the transaction on the date on which the repayment is made. In the event of mandatory early repayment, a penalty equal to 2% of the amount cancelled accrues.

Lastly, it should be noted that this type of financing may be combined with other aid granted by the Autonomous Communities and other public institutions.

G. 2023 ICO Exporter Line

This line of financing may be requested by independent professionals and enterprises with registered office in Spain who wish to obtain liquidity through an advance on the invoices from their export activity.

In particular, the financing is related to invoices issued within the framework of a transaction consisting of the final sale of goods and services supplied to a customer located outside Spain or to those with a document agreed with an enterprise that has its registered office outside Spain, evidencing that the purchaser undertakes to acquire goods from the enterprise that has its registered office in Spain, independent of the name and form given to such document. Invoices must be payable not more than 180 days after the transaction’s execution date.

Financing is also available in the form of pre-financing of the company’s liquidity needs to cover the production and manufacturing costs of the goods or services to be exported. This transaction is required to be cancelled prior to the formalization of the transaction consisting of an advance on invoices relating to the goods which were pre-financed.

In both cases, up to 100% of the amount of the invoice or up to 100% of the amount from the sale of the goods can be financed, provided that the outstanding balance does not exceed a maximum of €12,500,000 per customer and year, in one or more drawdowns.

The APR on the operation will be composed of the cost of the initial fee established by the credit institution to which the application for financing is submitted, plus the interest rate. In no case can the APR exceed the maximum limit established by the ICO.

The interest rate applied to the customer will be variable and, as with the dates and method of payment, will be agreed between the credit institution and the customer within the framework of the agreement formalized.

Lastly, it should be mentioned that the credit institution can charge a fee at the start of the operation, although such fee added to the interest rate set may not exceed the maximum APR applicable to the operation. Also, the client may be charged a fee in the event of mandatory early repayment, equal to 1% of the amount cancelled.

Transactions may be formalized throughout the whole of 2023, this instrument being compatible with other aid received from the autonomous communities or from other institutions.

35By its resolution of September 7, 2021, the Council of Ministers approved the creation of a Specific line for FIEM studies with an allocation of €50 million and an initial term of up to December 31, 2023. Its purpose is to offer non-repayable financing linked to studies of viability, feasibility, and pre-feasibility, technical assistance, sectoral plans, consulting, and any other detailed study that makes it possible to define, attract or detect projects of interest for Spanish internationalization. Priority is given to studies performed by Spanish engineering or consulting firms in relation to projects in (i) climate change mitigation; (ii) water and waste; (iii) agro-industry; (iv) tourism; (v) digitalization; (vi) energy; (vii) infrastructure; and (ix) industrial modernization.

Projects in any part of the world will be evaluated, but countries in Asia and Africa will be given priority.

Applications will be studied and processed on an ongoing basis by the Directorate-General of International Trade and Investment during the term of the Line (not subject therefore to a call deadline).

36Priority countries according to the 2020 Guidelines:

  • America: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, United States, Mexico and Peru.
  • Asia: Philippines, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and India.
  • Oceania: Australia.
  • Europe: Serbia
  • Africa,, Mediterranean countries and the Middle East: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Kenya, Morocco, Qatar, South Africa, Tunisia (for the small and medium projects line) and Turkey.
  • HIPC countries: Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania.