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autonomo freelancer in Spain

Follow these steps to start working as an autonomo (freelancer) in Spain

Read about how to work as an autonomo freelancer in Spain. Here is a basic guide to the process of setting up life here in Spain as an autonomo with how to do the NIE process. However, if you plan on paying an accountant, most accountants will include this setup/enrolment in their monthly fee.

How to work as an autonomo freelancer in Spain – Quick Guide

  1. Register for a NIE number (If you don’t have one already), showing your Visa/EU passport and future/previous work contracts and state that you will become an autonomo freelancer (Self employed). Refer to
  2. Register as Autonomo with the tax office Agencia Tributaria. Refer to
  3. Register to start paying Social Security directly.
    (Note: This starts off from about €80 per month. It then rises from €230 to €500+ per month after this first 12 months depending on your income. For women under 35 and men under 30, the reductions continue for three years.)Refer to
  4. Register with the city you live in for example for Barcelona city council Padrón Municipal as a resident of the city. Refer to
  5. Take your NIE, proof of Social Security Payments, proof of Padron to your nearest health clinic and register with (example for Barcelona) CatSalut to get a medical card (TSI). Refer to
  6. Take everything back to the foreigner office to get a Blue NIE card (TIE), you legally must have this with you at all times from now on. Refer to
  7. Pay your taxes and social security in Spain.
  8. Get a digital NIE Certificate to make everything else easier.

If you are considering freelancing in Spain, you’ll be joining 3 million freelancers, comprising 17% of the working population. In Spain, a freelancer or self-employed person is popularly referred to as “autónomo.” Officially, this status is called “permiso de trabajo por cuenta propia.”

Here’s what you need to know about becoming a freelancer in Spain:

  • Determine if you’re considered an autonomo freelancer.
  • Understand the different types of freelancers.
  • Learn how to become a freelancer in Spain, including registration as an autonomo.
  • Understand the administrative and financial responsibilities as an autonomo.
  • Weigh the pros and cons of being an autonomo in Spain.
  • Know the process for de-registering as an autonomo.
  • Explore popular freelance jobs in Spain.

Who is considered an autonomo freelancer in Spain?

In Spain, even those who offer online tutoring or sell on platforms like Etsy or eBay are considered autonomos and must register as such. According to the Spanish government, anyone who invoices customers and earns any amount of money by providing services or selling products needs to register as an autonomo.

However, there are exemptions from registering as an autonomo. For instance, if you freelance sporadically and earn less than Spain’s minimum wage, you may be exempt, with a few exceptions. These exceptions can be complex to interpret, so it’s advisable to hire a gestor to navigate the bureaucratic requirements.

Types of autonomo freelancer

Spain classifies self-employed individuals into six types, each with different tax implications. The main types include:

  • Autónomo Profesional (self-employed professional): Freelancers who can set their schedules, work remotely, and serve multiple clients. This category includes both registered (profesionales colegiados) and unregistered (no colegiados) freelancers.
  • Trabajador Autónomo (self-employed worker): Individuals who are their own bosses and may hire others, such as singers, athletes, and taxi drivers.

Other types of autonomo freelancer include: Autónomo Societario (Corporate self-employed), Autónomo Colaborador (self-employed collaborator), Trabajador Autónomo Económicamente Dependientes (Dependent self-employed worker or TRADE), and Autónomo Agrarios (self-employed agricultural worker).

What do I need to become an autonomo freelancer in Spain?

Here are six steps to becoming an autonomo freelancer in Spain:

  1. Obtain a Spain freelance visa (if applicable).
  2. Obtain your NIE number.
  3. Register with the tax authority.
  4. Open a bank account in Spain.
  5. Register with social security.
  6. Obtain any required licenses for your freelancing business.

Administrative responsibilities as an autonomo freelancer

Autonomos are responsible for registering with the tax and social security agency, managing invoices and finances, and paying income tax (IRPF) and VAT. Quarterly filing of taxes is required, with deadlines varying throughout the year.

Additionally, autonomos need to contribute to social security, with monthly contributions calculated based on income. New freelancers may qualify for discounted rates for the first two years.

Pros and cons of being an autonomo freelancer in Spain

Autonomo Freelancer Pros:

  • Great work-life balance and quality of life.
  • Access to free healthcare and other social security benefits.
  • Flexibility to set your schedule and work from anywhere.
  • Possibility to bring dependents on the self-employment visa.

Autonomo Freelancer Cons:

  • High social security contributions.
  • Quarterly tax filings can be time-consuming.
  • Limited pension benefits compared to employees of companies.
  • Personal liability for debts.

How to end an autónomo status in Spain

To de-register as an autonomo, follow these steps:

  1. Fill out the necessary forms for the tax authorities.
  2. Terminate your social security as a self-employed person.
  3. File your annual tax returns and VAT.

Popular freelancing jobs in Spain include business consultants, English teachers, restaurant owners, translators, IT consultants, web designers, personal assistants, and construction workers.

How much tax does an autonomo pay in Spain?

Personal income taxes (IRPF) are charged at a progressive rate (19% – 47%) and vary per autonomous region in Spain.
Autónomos need to file income tax in advance, every quarter, at 20% and annually between April-June. That means, every January, April, July and October, you need to make an advance payment of:

(Business income – business expense) x 20%

You also need to declare your VAT (IVA) taxes quarterly. The VAT is charged at 21% on the selling price/service cost (must be on all invoices). This is how you calculate it:

VAT paid on business expenses – VAT charged to customers

Do note that when dealing with customers outside the EU, you don’t have to charge VAT to your customers.

Here’s what you can expect to pay for social security

autonomo freelancer

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