How To: Work As A Self Employed In Spain


Spain is one of the most unique countries in Europe and is particularly famous for its architecture and artistic culture. More and more freelancers are looking to move to Spain – mainly due to its excellent healthcare system, rich culture and general quality of life. Read on to discover how you can move to Spain as a self employed!

  1. Be self employed in Spain
  2. How do I become self employed (autónomo) in Spain?
    1. Self employment work visa
    2. Foreigner identity number
    3. Bank account
    4. Registration
    5. Health insurance
    6. Taxes

Be self employed in Spain

Working in Spain is a wonderful prospect for anyone and everyone. There is so much to take advantage of when working in this amazing country – the wonderful sites, rich culture, quality of life, not to mention the healthcare system, insurance and relatively straightforward invoicing and accounting processes.

Not surprisingly, most freelancers who move to Spain forge their new life in the sun-drenched coastal regions. Valencia, Andalusia, and the Canary and Balearic Islands, in particular, are quite popular.

There are close to 3M freelancers/self-employed working in Spain.

Statista, 2019

How do I become self employed (autónomo) in Spain? 

There are a few things you need to do as a freelancer, both before and after moving to Spain. These are as follows:

Checklist how to become self employed in Spain

#1 Self employment work visa

Before moving to Spain, you need to apply for a self-employment work visa. This visa needs to be applied for in-person and can be done so at your local Spanish consulate or embassy. Before doing so, however, you need to fill out the EX – 07 form (temporary residence authorization request and self-employment request) and pay two fees in advance – the Modelo 790 código 052 and Modelo 790 Código 062.

You will also need a list of authorizations required for the professional activity, proof of your training for said activity and a defined business plan.

Once you have the above, you can apply for the visa by presenting the following documents: 

#2 Foreigner identity number

It is essential for every freelancer or self-employed person wanting to work in Spain to obtain a Número de Identificación de Extranjero (NIE). This is a unique identification number for foreigners and is necessary for any official process in Spain. This includes renting a property, buying a car, paying your taxes and so on.

There are a few different ways that you can apply for the NIE. If you’re abroad, you can either apply for it via a Spanish consulate or a representative living in Spain.

If you’re already in Spain, however, you can apply for it by making an appointment with the local Immigration Office. You will need need the following:

  • Your passport
  • Two copies of the EX-15 form
  • Proof of legal entry into Spain (for non-EU nationals)
  • Two passport-sized photographs

#3 Bank account

Before registering as a self employed in Spain, you will need to open a bank account. Fortunately, the process for this is relatively simple and straight-forward. 

Depending on how long you’re planning to stay in Spain, you can either open a non-resident bank account or a resident one. If you’re planning on staying for more than 6 months, you will need to open a resident bank account. The requirements for this are as follows:

  • Your passport or national identity card (for EU citizens)
  • Proof of address 
  • NIE number
  • Proof of employment status (eg. a contract)

On the other hand, if you’re planning on staying for less than 6 months, you will need to open a non-resident bank account. For this, you will require:

  • Your passport or national identity card (for EU citizens)
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of employment (eg. tax return)
  • Certificate of non-residency – this can be obtained by going to the police station or Foreign Office

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#4 Registration

It’s important to register as a self-employed in Spain before starting any freelance work. You will need to register with both the tax agency and social security.

Tax agency

The tax agency (Agencia Tributaria or Hacienda) is a public administration that collects taxes quarterly from an autónomo. You will need to book an appointment with the agency before you can register – you can do this via the agency’s website and choose an office that is closest to you. 

Registering at the tax agency requires you to have an NIE, a Spanish bank account and if you’re from outside the EU, a work permit or visa. At the office, you will be required to choose a category that corresponds to your freelance activity. Once you do this, you will be required to complete a form – either 036 or 037.

Social security

Anyone working in Spain is required to contribute to the social security system. And so, after registering at the tax agency, you will need to register with your local social security office in Spain within 30 days. You need to sign up for the Special Regime for Self-Employed Workers (RETA) and will need to bring the following documents:

  • Your passport plus one copy
  • Form 036 or 037 (from the tax agency)
  • IRPF form (from the tax agency)
  • Local resident registration certificate (certificado de empadronamiento) – this can be obtained from the Padrón Office in your town or the town hall

#5 Health insurance

Once you’ve registered with the social security office, you will be able to access the state healthcare (Sistema nacional de salud or SNS), free of charge. 

However, you will need to apply for a health card (tarjeta sanitaria individual or TSI). The process for this depends on where you live in Spain, though usually, you can obtain it at a local health centre.

Autónomos that are citizens of non-EU/EFTA countries may be required to purchase private insurance when applying for their visa. Luckily, there are quite a few private health insurance providers in Spain that offer a range of packages that cater specifically to your needs and circumstances. 

Health insurance for digital nomads

#6 Taxes

Working in Spain as a freelancer makes you liable to pay taxes on both your income and your assets. 

Income tax

The personal income tax (Impuesto de Renta sobre las Personas Físicas o IRPF) in Spain depends primarily on where you’re living. You are required to file your Spanish personal income tax returns between 6th April and 30 June in the following year.

You must also complete the spanish tax form –  Modelo 130 every quarter (between the first and 20th day of each quarter) and then pay 20% of your profits to the tax office as advance payments.


Spain, like most countries, also has a VAT tax. These are divided in 3 categories:

  • General –  21% (goods and services)
  • Reducido – 10% (transport, non-basic foods, health products etc.)
  • Superreducido –  4% (essential items)

You are required to submit all invoice data online to the tax agency within four days of the date of issuance.

Would you ever consider moving to Spain to work as a freelancer? Tell us in the comments below!

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Stefania Volpe

Stefania joined the international team at freelancermap in 2020. She loves marketing, the digital world, foreign languages and meeting different cultures. She moved from Italy to Germany thanks to an exchange program at the university and worked as marketing manager for several startups. Now she focuses on helping freelancers and IT professionals to find jobs and clients worldwide at

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