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Access all areas: how to get a digital certificate in Spain to aid online processes

Not to be confused with a Digital Covid Certificate, Spain's digital certificate makes many online administrative processes a lot easier. Here's everything you need to know from what you need it for to how to apply for one.

Access all areas: how to get a digital certificate in Spain to aid online processes
How to get Spain's digital certificate? Photo: Bartek Zakrzewski / Pixabay

What is a digital certificate?

A digital certificate is a piece of software in Spain that you can download on your computer, allowing you to identify yourself during administrative processes.

Spain is notorious for its difficult bureaucratic systems, but the digital certificate can save you a lot of hassle and allow you to complete many processes online, without having to go in person to the various offices and agencies.

What is the digital certificate used for?

The digital certificate can be used for a whole host of processes with various Spanish institutions, including the Hacienda (Tax Office), DGT (Traffic Office), regional health system, INSS social security, your bank, or your Ayuntamiento (Town Hall).

You will need it to do anything from logging on to your personal health page and making changes to your employment status to paying fines, declaring taxes and registering your vehicle for road tax.

Anyone who is autónomo or self-employed in Spain should already have a digital certificate to process anything to do with taxes or social security. If you have a gestor who does your taxes for you, they will also need a copy of your digital certificate in order to submit tax returns for you.

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How do I get a digital certificate?

Step 1: In order to apply for your digital certificate, you will follow this link https://www.sede.fnmt.gob.es/. On the right-hand side, you’ll see a button saying ‘Obtenga/Renueve su Certificado Digital’ – click on this. 

On the next page, if you’re applying for yourself, you will click on ‘Persona Física’.

Step 2: Next, you will need to download a special piece of software that allows the digital certificate to work on your computer. Click on Área de Descarga de Configurador FNMT and then select your computer operating system in order to download the correct software.

Once you have downloaded the software correctly, you will click on ‘Solicitar Certificado’ on the left-hand side panel.

Step 3: A new page will open asking you for all your personal information such as your NIE – the number on your TIE/DNI card or green residency certificate – plus your name and an e-mail address. When you’ve filled out all the fields, click ‘ENVIAR PETICIÓN’ to send your application.

Step 4: Once you have sent your application, a pop-up box will appear, if you have downloaded the software correctly, asking you for permission to open it. Click on ‘Abrir’. Another pop-up box will then appear, asking you to choose a password. You will need the password later, so choose one that you will remember or keep it somewhere safe. Then click ‘Aceptar’.

Step 5: After your application has been sent and your password set, you will receive an email with an application code. You will then need to make an appointment to visit one of the FNMT or Tax Agency offices to accredit your identity in person. You can find a list of offices and locations here, in order to find your nearest one.

When you get your appointment, you will need to take your identity documents such as TIE card, DNI card or residency certificate, plus your passport and any other documents you are asked to bring with you.

Step 6: When your identity has been verified, you will receive another e-mail with a link to download your digital certificate, as well as the same application code. To download it correctly, it will ask you for your name, NIE and code. Click on the option ‘Instalar Certificado’ in order to install your digital certificate onto your browser. This means that it will pop up every time an official Spanish website, such as the ones mentioned above, requires your identity for an administrative process.

Keep in mind, your digital certificate will only be on the one device you installed it on, to install it on other devices, you will need your application code and password. If you have a gestor to help with taxes and other administrative processes, they will also ask you for your code and password to be able to download it on their computers too. 

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

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VISAS

Spain’s new digital nomad visa: Everything we know so far

Spain's new startups law offers tax benefits and a special visa to digital nomads and remote workers who move to the country. Here we analyse all the information available on this advantageous permit for non-EU nationals.

Spain's new digital nomad visa: Everything we know so far

Perhaps the most interesting draw of Spain’s new startups law is the creation of an exclusive visa for digital nomads.

In a nutshell, it will grant non-EU freelancers and remote workers entry and residency rights in Spain, with less bureaucratic obstacles than there currently are and enticing tax benefits.

There are plenty of other perks that Spain’s new law startups law will bring to foreign entrepreneurs, investors and startups (you can read about it in the link directly below).

READ MORE: 15 things you need to know about Spain’s new startups law

But in this article we will focus on the new law for digital nomads and remote workers, what we know so far and what still has to be confirmed before the bill is approved by the Senate and comes into force in January 2023.

The new legislation defines digital nomads as “people whose jobs allow them to work remotely and change residence regularly”. This may not seem particularly groundbreaking, but their recognition in the eyes of Spanish law is what has allowed for a new visa and tax category to be created. 

A new digital nomad visa   

The digital nomad visa, referred to officially as the international remote worker visa (visado para teletrabajadores de carácter internacional), is part of the new startups law which is expected to come into force in early 2023. 

This visa is particularly promising for non-EU digital nomads from countries such as the UK, US or Australia for example, as until now getting a residency permit to live and work remotely from Spain hasn’t been at all easy, with the best option being to apply for the self-employment visa which requires a business plan, proof of funds and guaranteed earnings and more. 

It will also be available for remote workers with a contract for an overseas company, so it’s not just digital nomads who freelance for several clients who can apply.

The Spanish government wants to remove the existing bureaucratic hurdles these international workers face in a bid to make “Spain a paradise for talent”.

The visa will initially be available for a period of one year, but it can then be renewed until reaching five years in Spain, at which point it will be possible to apply for permanent residency.

One of the visa’s requirements will be that applicants must earn at least 80 percent of their income from foreign companies.

It will also be necessary for those applying for the digital nomad visa to not have lived (been fiscal residents) in Spain for the previous five years.

International companies will be able to request a residency permit through the digital nomad visa for non-EU remote workers they wish to relocate to Spain, but these will have to be deemed highly qualified with either graduate and/or postgraduate studies or three years of relevant experience.

Applicants will also be able to get residency rights for their partner and children, although the specifics have not yet been released.

Spain’s Secretary of State for Digitization will work together with the country’s regional governments to implement this visa in the next three months. 

Taxes

It’s widely reported that Spain’s tax regime has dissuaded many international workers from setting up shop in the country up until now.

The new startups law addresses this with fiscal benefits for remote workers and digital nomads that move to Spain. In fact, they will pay less income tax than self-employed and contract workers that already live and work in the country.

New digital nomads will be able to pay Non-Residents Tax (IRNR) rather than the regular income tax (IRPF) Spain’s resident workers pay. Non-Resident Tax was previously only applicable to non-residents such as second-home owners, but an exception has now been made for digital nomad visa holders even if they spend more than 183 days a year in Spain and are therefore technically fiscal residents.

Furthermore, IRNR is generally 25 percent in Spain but this will be reduced to 15 percent for digital nomads and remote workers as long as they earn below €600,000 a year. 

Again, they will have to demonstrate that less than 20 percent of their income comes from companies based in Spain for this IRNR tax to apply.

This favourable tax rate will be available to them for four years. 

READ ALSO: What the experts think of Spain’s new law for startups and digital nomads

Minimum earnings and healthcare access still unknown

As mentioned earlier, Spain’s startups law is not in force yet. It’s at the final stage after being given the green light by the Committee on Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, the Spanish Cabinet and the Spanish Parliament.

The bill now only needs to be ratified by the Spanish Senate before being published in Spain’s State Bulletin and therefore being in effect, the expected date of which is on January 1st 2023.

By that point, some of the doubts that still exist about the digital nomad visa and its conditions should be clarified. 

One of these is if applicants will need to meet minimum income requirements to apply. It has been reported that this will be around the €2,000-a-month mark.

Another doubt that remains is what access digital nomad visa holders will have to healthcare in Spain. Will they need to get a private healthcare scheme as is required for non-lucrative visa applicants which can be expensive especially if you have pre-existing conditions? Will they be able to pay social security fees or the convenio especial pay-in scheme to access public healthcare? None of this has yet been mentioned by the Spanish government.

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