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When exactly do I need to register as self-employed in Spain?

The Local Spain
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When exactly do I need to register as self-employed in Spain?
When do I need to register as self employed in Spain? Photo: Imagen de StartupStockPhotos / Pixabay

Becoming self-employed in Spain is not an easy task and when you’re first starting out, there can be lots of confusion from the registration process, to creating invoices and taxes. But, when exactly do you need to register?


Being self-employed in Spain can be tricky, with quarterly tax declarations, high monthly social security fees and many different forms to fill out throughout the year, so it's important to keep on top of the situation and know exactly when everything must be done by. 

If you plan on becoming what's known as an autónomo or self-employed in Spain, you can't simply just decide to become a freelancer and start work, you must officially register, so that you're legal and can legally issue invoices. 

Social Security defines being self-employed as: "Workers over 18 years of age, who, on a regular, personal and direct basis, carry out an economic activity for profit, without being subject to an employment contract". 

Registering as self-employed

In order to legally be self-employed in Spain, you must register with both Social Security and with the Hacienda or Treasury, separately. 

Registration with Social Security is done via form TA.0521, which will enrol in the RETA, the Special Regime for Self-Employed Workers.

Once you've done this you will be registered into the Social Security contribution system and will pay a monthly fee, depending on your earnings. This will cover you for healthcare, sick leave or maternity and paternity pay. 

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To register with the Hacienda or Treasury, you will need to complete form 036 and choose which type of business you want to carry out. This will enable you to issue invoices and pay taxes as a self-employed person. 


When must I register? 

The Ministry of Equality and Social Security specifies that once you start working as a freelancer, you must register either the same day that you start work or up to 60 days beforehand. 

If you know that your business will be up and running by a certain date, then registering beforehand is a good option. This means that you could, for example, register on July 1st for a start date of September 1st. 

READ ALSO: How self-employed workers in Spain should invoice clients abroad 

If you register as self-employed after you start work, then the date of registration will be considered as the first day of the month and you will not be able to benefit from discounted fees.

If you register a full 90 days after you start work, the process will be slightly different and you will have to request special registration by sending an application form

Even though it's possible to register after you begin, you do this at your own risk and could incur fines for not doing it at the correct time. 


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According to Social Security, you could be fined between €3,750 and €12,000, depending on the severity of the situation, how long you waited to register, or if you were found out. You will have to pay the corresponding fees as soon as the administration is aware that you started working.

Given the high risk and sanctions involved, it's always best to register as an autónomo before or the very same day you begin work as a freelancer. 


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