Although independently governed, Gran Canaria, in the Canary Islands, benefits from full integration within both the Spanish state and the EU. The regulatory framework is totally harmonised with European standards and laws. It offers an excellent combination of tax advantages, low cost of living and high quality of life.
The island is a renowned tourist destination, hosting nearly 4.5 million visitors per year. Yet, as a highly attractive business destination that provides access to national and international markets, there is so much more to Gran Canaria.
Gran Canaria profits from a strong geostrategic location in the mid-Atlantic, close to the north-west coast of Africa. The central position of its main port Las Palmas on nearly all north-south routes has much to do with its outstanding air and sea connections. There are more than 137 direct air routes to Europe and Africa and further maritime connections with more than 180 destinations across the globe. There are several key factors that make conducting business in Gran Canaria so appealing: a regional market that is influenced by high levels of tourism, the availability of talented and qualified young people and, the competitive supply of space and services for the location of commercial activities.
Low taxation and a rich talent pool
Gran Canaria’s tax regime for businesses is highly competitive. Companies benefit from reduced corporate and consumption taxes, plus a wide range of tax advantages and incentives.
Due to the advantages provided by the Canary Islands Special Zone (ZEC) – which offers a reduced rate of 4% – companies can benefit from low taxation on profits. Furthermore, there are free-trade zones in the port areas where no customs charges are levied on the import and export of goods. All these EU-supported tax differentials are equally observed at indirect taxation level. The Canary Islands’ VAT-equivalent (IGIC) is fixed at 6.5%, in contrast to an average of 20% applied in continental Europe. Additionally, the high percentage of young people and highly trained professionals constitutes an important asset. This is due to an extensive range of locally available university, vocational, and technical degrees.
Live the dream
Gran Canaria’s year-round sunshine, magnificent natural surroundings and extensive range of leisure activities needs no introduction. Combine this with a cost of living which is about half that of the main cities in Europe, and it all adds up to a highly attractive deal.
Gran Canaria’s health services are of the very highest standards. EU citizens have access to the professional care and treatment available through the public healthcare network. They may also use private health facilities to their full extent via insurers, guaranteeing total health cover for all foreigners. There are also numerous bilingual and international schools, making it a great place for children to grow up.
Super-fast digital connectivity explains the influx of nomad and remote workers to Gran Canaria. Indeed, various independent rankings consider Las Palmas de Gran Canaria as the new hotspot for remote working.
The film industry in Gran Canaria enjoys excellent operating conditions. This is not only due to the attractive tax relief that the island offers – 40% tax rebate for international productions on the eligible expenditure incurred on the territory – but also the diversity of locations and world-class production and post-production facilities.
Software development, smart technologies and digital activities are also ideally suited to the island, thanks to the strong talent base of young, highly-qualified professionals. Gran Canaria is now running a “living lab” initiative, specifically geared to the technology sectors, which facilitates a broad suite of product testing and trials.
The island’s ports, with the notable mention of Las Palmas Port, offer competitive conditions for the transport and logistics sector. Perhaps its most significant advantage is the existence of a consolidated service and supply cluster, which caters to the many demands of repairs, logistics, bunkering and technical, professional and legal services. The Port of Las Palmas is the mid-Atlantic’s largest hub and the only full-service port in the region to cover all port and maritime services. It has also become the largest oil and gas base between the North Sea and South Africa.
Ambitious programmes are also being developed for Gran Canaria’s Blue Economy and, in particular, off-shore activities, marine biotechnology and aquaculture. A strong public commitment (BIOASIS, PLOCAN) is now being pursued by local and international entrepreneurs and companies, which proves Gran Canaria is gaining real traction in maritime and offshore R&D.
The importance of the tourism and hospitality sector naturally opens up new opportunities and potential for investment, including specialised services, leisure activities, destination apps and much more. Companies whose activities require investment in R&D will benefit from highly favourable conditions. In fact, tax deductions can account for as much as 75% of the R&D investment carried out on the island, plus other direct aid lines from the Spanish government covering researchers’ salaries.
A range of dedicated public and private entities are now promoting Gran Canaria as a premier business destination. These include the “Best in Gran Canaria” initiative and the island’s government – Cabildo de Gran Canaria. All are committed to providing first-class support to ensure successful integration on the island. Gran Canaria’s unique combination of favourable taxation, sound regulation, technological know-how and EU-support has created the ideal environment for investment. And beyond the business, the island’s superb quality of life and unbeatable access to mainland Europe means it also makes the perfect home.