For members


Baja de autónomo: How to deregister as self-employed in Spain

Official freelance processes can be tricky in Spain, even getting yourself off the system can be complicated. So we've put together a handy guide on everything you need to know about doing the 'baja' from Spain's self-employment system.

Baja de autónomo: How to deregister as self-employed in Spain
Photo: Tim Gouw/Pixabay

The pandemic has been hard on everyone, particularly on freelancers (known as autónomos in Spanish), many of whom have seen their clients and income reduce significantly over the past year.

If you’re not eligible for any more government financial aid packages, but are continuing to struggle to earn enough to pay your bills and the full social security contributions at €283 per month, then you may have to stop freelancing and deregister, better known as darse de baja como autónomo.

You are able to deregister from the autónomo system up to three times per year without having to pay the full social security fee for that month. You will only pay the portion up until the day you get yourself off the system. If you deregister a fourth time, however, you will be liable to pay the full fee.

This can be useful to know because it means you can temporarily stop trading and avoid having to pay the social security fee if you’re not earning. You might need to temporarily unregister if you know you are not going to get any work for a couple of months, but will have a bigger project later on in the year or if you have lost some clients and need to wait until you can get some new ones.  

Or perhaps your work is seasonal, maybe you’re a freelance teacher who won’t get any work during the summer months. In this case, you can do the baja from the system for the months of July and August only. Similarly, you can also re-register as an autónomo up to three times per year.

If you have a digital certificate, you can do the baja online yourself, and there is no need to wait ages for appointments to become available and go into the offices.

If you don’t have a digital certificate, you can ask your gestor to submit them for you.  

READ ALSO: What does a gestor do and why you’ll need one

Keep in mind, deregistering online is only for people who are sole-traders and not for anyone who also employs other people. In order to deregister when you employ others, you will have to go in person to both the Hacienda and the TGSS Social Security office.

How to deregister from Hacienda 

The first step is to make Hacienda, Spain’s official tax body, know about your plans.  In order to stop being deemed as self-employed,  they will have to remove you from RETA (Régimen Especial de Trabajadores Autónomos) or the Special Scheme for Self-Employed Workers.

It’s very important to let the tax office know that you are not going to be working so they don’t expect you to present future quarterly tax returns. If you stop working mid-quarterly return, you will still have to declare what you earned in that quarter ie) If you deregister in April, the first month of Q2, you will still have to do your declaración

Once you’ve gone on to the tax office website, type Modelo 037 into the search box or click on this link. This is the form you’ll need to deregister. Alternatively, you can also fill out the other version of the form – the Modelo 036 for the ‘Declaración censal de alta, modificación y baja’.

Next, click on ‘Trámites’ and select ‘Cumplimentación y presentación telemática 037’ (Online completion and presentation of 037) or 36, if you are choosing that form.

The system will then ask you to log on using your digital certificate or your [email protected] pin.

READ ALSO: Spanish bureaucracy explained: Saving time through the [email protected] system

Fill out all your details on the form, making sure to select box 150 (baja) to deregister or unsubscribe. You will also need to fill out the date that you ceased trading or stopped working and the reason why.

Once the form has been filled out, you can send it for processing. You can check this has been done correctly by going back to the home page and logging on with your digital certificate, before selecting ‘Mis Expedientes’ or My Files.

Freelancer. Image: StartupStockPhotos / Pixabay

How to deregister from Social Security

Remember, it’s also very important to deregister from Spain’s Social Security system. If you don’t do it with both Hacienda and the Seguridad Social, they will not accept your deregistration and you will have to continue paying the Social Security fees every month, despite not actually earning anything.

Once on the Social Security website, you can search for and select ‘Solicitud de baja en el Regimen Especial de Trabajadores por Cuenta Propia o Autónomos’ or Withdrawal from RETA

You’ll then be prompted to log on with your digital certificate and make sure all your personal details are up to date.

The next step is to fill in your IAE code. This is the code that corresponds to your profession. You can find it on the original RETA certificate you received when you registered as autónomo in the first place.

You will also need to fill out the date that you stopped working, making sure it’s the same date that you put on the Modelo 037 that you sent to the Hacienda.

When you have finished filling out the form, press confirm to generate a PDF certificate to show that you’ve deregistered. Save this just in case you might need it later as proof. 

It may take a few days for the system to recognise that you’ve deregister and once it has, you will receive an e-mail or text message to say that everything has been done correctly.


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For members


How to change the title holder of utility bills in Spain

When you move into a new property in Spain you will need to change the account or contract holder over, so that any future water, electricity or gas bills will be in your name. It's not as easy as you may think; here's how you go about it.

How to change the title holder of utility bills in Spain

Changing the name on your utility bills and the payment details should in theory be relatively straightforward, however you may come up against some common problems which can make the change pretty complicated.

Firstly, you will need to find out which energy companies have been contracted for your property.

You can do this by asking the previous owner themselves, contacting your landlord if you’re renting or asking your estate agent to find out for you.

When it comes to water, this should be provided by your local council or city, so you won’t need to contact the previous occupant for this one. 

How do I change the title over?

When you first move in, remember to note down the numbers on the gas, electricity and water meters, so you can give these to the utility companies and they can record how much you should owe, instead of having to pay for the previous occupant’s consumption as well.

Next, you will then need to contact the energy company supplying your property or water provider and ask for a cambio de titular a nombre del arrendatario o comprador (ask for a change of ownership in the name of the renter or buyer).

The process should be completely free for electricity and gas, but in some cities, you may need to pay a deposit for changing the title of the water bill, which you should get back when you vacate the property. The deposit can be anywhere between €50 and €100.

Contacting the energy company by phone may be the best way to make sure everything is done correctly, but some companies also have online forms where you can request a title change. When it comes to water, most cities will have water offices you can visit or specific e-mail addresses if you can’t contact them over the phone. 

There are a few pieces of information you’ll need to have on hand before you contact the company. These are:

  • The full name of the previous person who had the bills in their name
  • Your NIE / DNI
  • The address of the property
  • The date you moved in
  • The CUPS code (not needed for water)
  • Your padrón certificate (for water only)
  • A copy of the deeds of the property or rental contract
  • Your bank details

With all this information, they should be able to change the name over on the account relatively quickly, so that any future energy bills will go directly to you.

At this time, you can also change your tariff or amount of energy contracted to suit your individual needs.

How do I find the CUPS code?

The CUPS code or Código Unificado del Punto de Suministro (Universal Supply Point Code) is a number that identifies each individual property that receives electricity or gas. The number doesn’t change, so you could ask the previous occupant for this as it will be written on their energy bills.

Alternatively, if this isn’t possible you can contact your energy distributor – these are assigned by area and stay the same. By giving them your name, address and ID number such as NIE, they will be able to give you the CUPS code associated with your property.

What if I want to change to a new energy company?

If you’d prefer not to contract the energy company that the previous owner had, you can also choose to go with a new one. In this case, you will still need all of the same information and numbers as above, but you will contact the energy provider of your choice and the type of tariff you want to pay.

How long will it take to change the name over?

It can take between 1 and 20 days for the bills to be changed over into your name. The previous occupant will receive their final bill and then you will receive the new one from the date you moved in.

What are some of the problems I might come up against?

The most common problem is when the previous occupant is not up to date on paying their bills and has some outstanding debt. In this case, if you try to change the title over into your name, you will also be inheriting the pervious owner’s debt.

In this case, you will have to get the previous occupant to pay their outstanding bill before you can change it over into your name. If you have problems getting them to pay their bill, then you can show proof of the date you moved in by sending in a copy of your deeds or rental contract. This should in theory allow for the transfer of ownership without having to take on the debt, however it can be tricky process, often calling the energy company multiple times and waiting for verification of the proof.

What if the energy services have been cut off?

In the case that the property has been uninhabited for some time, the previous owners may have deactivated or cut off the utilities. If this is the case, then you will need to call the energy providers to activate them again. This will typically involve paying several fees to be able to get them up and running. The amount you pay will depend on the energy distributor and where the property is based in Spain.