How to be a freelancer in Spain

How to be a freelancer in Spain

by Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Updated November 7, 2022

Have you ever wanted to work in Spain? We always say the best way to learn Spanish is to immerse yourself in the language. Moving to a Spanish-speaking country is the best immersion. Are you considering it? What about if you can’t find a UK company in Barcelona and just want to go for it? The good news is that you can be a freelancer in Spain. A freelancer in Spanish is called an autónomo or ‘self-employed person’ and there are 3 million autónomos in Spain already. If you have ever thought about starting a business in Spain and moving there to live, do it the right way. Here is how to be an autónomo or freelancer in Spain. 

Legal status of freelancers in Spain

How do freelancers work in Spain? A Spain freelance visa is available for anyone who has freelance work and moves to Spain to live. It takes a little time to set up the registration properly, but is relatively simple. The good news? It is perfectly legal to work as a freelancer in Spain and have Spanish residency via self-employment.

Starting a business in Spain

Starting a new business in Spain is possible too, but for certain professions you may need to transfer qualifications from your home country and gain official recognition in Spain. This applies to lawyers, doctors, engineers, teachers, and other liability-heavy professions. Once registered as self employed in Spain, you can even take on staff for your business. Previous freelance workers for Spanish clients and starting a new business in Spain are both covered under registration as an autónomo.

How to prepare to move to Spain

How to register as autónomo for visa purposes

To live in Spain as a legal autónomo with a self-employment visa, you have to register your freelancer job in Spain with the tax office and join the social security system. This registration requires a national insurance number for foreigners (NIE) and a Spanish bank account. Depending on the bank, you can open an account using your proof of residency such as your lease on a flat. Make sure the lease lists your name in order to match the bank account and the Spain self employed visa under the same name.

Moving to Spain? Learn real Spanish

Pay taxes as a freelancer in Spain

After registering as an autónomo self-employed person in Spain, you are prepared to pay freelancer in Spain taxes. Depending on your work, you need to file tax returns monthly, three times per year, or once annually. You will register with the Spanish tax authority (called Hacienda) and make VAT declarations, called IVA in Spain. 

Search the internet for “spain autonomo tax calculator” to get an initial idea. Then, hire an accountant or gestor Spanish business administration manager to make sure your taxes are correctly calculated. Just as there are multiple regional languages in Spain, some regions don’t follow the federal tax rate brackets due to being autonomous. Foreign workers in Spain can face a penalty ranging from 50% to 150% of the unpaid tax liability. It’s one of those areas where it pays to get it right the first time around. Post-Brexit tax questions should be left to the professionals.

The best banks in Spain

Spanish vocabulary for freelancing

Here is some useful vocabulary to talk with your accountant or gestor about freelance registration and taxes in Spain.

  • visa de autónomo – freelancer visa, self-employed person visa
  • Agencia Estatal de Administración Tributaria (AEAT)/”Hacienda” – Spanish tax authority 
  • Tesoreria General de la Seguridad Social – Spanish social security system
  • Número de Identidad de Extranjero (NIE) – ID number for foreigners, linked to social security 
  • impuesto sobre el valor añadido (IVA) – value added tax (VAT)
  • gestor administrativo – business administration manager

Learn Spanish as a freelancer

Immersion by living in Spain is the best way to learn Spanish. To be a freelancer in Spain, a basic level of fluency has the immediate benefit of convenience. As you become more fluent in Spanish, you will improve your life in Spain. Not only can you meet people socially, but Spanish will grow your professional network. Even if you have UK companies in Spain as freelance clients, their staff will speak Spanish.

Check out our job-hunting phrases in Spanish for useful business-related vocabulary to improve your prospects. Look into online Spanish lessons so you can learn Spanish at home. Start before you move and keep studying after you get there. 

Prepare to work abroad in Spain by practising basic Spanish conversation. Register for a 7-day free trial with Lingoda today.

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