Self employed in Spain: Ask yourself these 5 questions before getting started

Many people in Spain would like to become self-employed, but once they get involved in the necessary regulatory filing, most of them begin to doubt. Bureaucratic Spanish, lots of points of contact and forms to fill in, civil servants, who make one's life just not so easy ... with all that you can easily lose the overview and motivation.


Do you feel the same way? Then you are not alone, I know many people who are struggling with the same problems.


That's why I've prepared this checklist of the 5 most important questions you should ask yourself before you start. Because structure helps to achieve a goal. 

The 5 crucial questions before getting self-employed:

1. When do you want to start?

Ideally, the start date should not be at the end of a quarter, otherwise you will have to file tax forms, perhaps because of a few days of operations only, and this is unneccessary stress.

You should also be aware of the obligation to get registered with the Social Security before starting to work (you can register up to 60 days before the start date).

2. What exactly will be your business activity? In which way is the work done?

These questions are important because there are certain lists of business activities both in the Tax Office and the Social Security where your activity has to fit in.


How the work is being done refers in particular to whether you will have your own office, employees, a company structure, or if you are planning to work from home, perhaps as a freelancer. This affects whether the employment is classified as "empresarial" (= entrepreneurial) or "profesional" (= freelance), and thus also on how to issue one's invoices correctly.


Of course, you also have to find out whether the activity you wish to exercise is officially regulated in Spain. It can happen that you have to become a member of a professional chamber (lawyers, architects, ...) to be able to work.

The question of what type of activity is exercised is also important to consider whether it may be useful or even compulsory to have a professional liability insurance.


Good to know: In Spain, there exists the interesting opportunity to register as a self-employed person with limited liability in the commercial register, thereby avoiding the unlimited liability that may discourage many ambitious entrepreneurs from taking the step into self-employment.

3. Who are your potential clients?

Are your potential clients mostly Spanish or foreign individuals? Or Spanish or foreign companies? 

In case companies from other European countries form part of your clients, you should register in the ROI (=“Registro de operadores intracomunitarios“, the Register of Intercomunitaries Operators), because only then you can issue your invoices to these companies without VAT through the „Reverse Charge-Procedure“.

4. How do you want to sign up in the Social Security?

You should have in mind that you cannot expect to pay the lowest contribution rate for years and then to get a lot in the event of illness or maternity or old-age pension.

At the moment, one can choose very flexibly the contribution base for the Social Security. As a self-employed person, you can also decide if you want to protect yourself for work-related accidents or unemployment or not. So you have to think carefully how much protection you want.


Good to know: at the moment there are very attractive reductions in the contributions, so even a good protection is not expensive.


Also interesting: There are professions that have their own social protection system (for example, lawyers), so they can decide whether to register with the Public Social Security or their profession-specific protection system. Here you should inquire at the appropriate chamber to make the right choice.

5. Where to go and what to bring?

To be self-employed in Spain, you need in any case:

  • a NIE- number (=personal identification number for foreigners) if you are not a Spanish citizen,
  • a Social Security number,
  • a Spanish bank account.

You have everything? You have answered all questions above? Then you can get started: 


First: Registration of the business activity in the Spanish Tax Office.

Second: Registration of the business activity in the Spanish Social Security.

Third: Inform yourself in the city hall (Ayuntamiento) and in the Autonomous Region (Comunidad), which funds are currently available for people who become self-employed. A timely application it crucial for receiving any public funds.


You need to know what exactly you want to offer as a self-employed worker, and in what form, because this determines the necessary registrations and the resulting obligations for you (taxes, accounting, etc.).

You were able to answer the 5 questions, but would rather not have to deal with all administrative steps?

You would like to have some professional advice on your individual questions?


Then do yourself a favor, save time, avoid trouble and contact me.

I support you on your way to self-employment. It is that easy.