About Me

DSC_0036¡Hola! I’m Penelope and I’ve been living in Barcelona since 2010.
When I decided to go self-employed in Spain (see “where it all began“), I was shocked by the lack of information on taxes, administrative tasks and the overall costs of setting up business in Spain.
I decided to do something about it. I’m sharing my experience so that anyone in the same position as me can benefit from the research I did. You’ll find tax how-tos, news and a few things I couldn’t resist, like a guide to my favourite cafes to work in).
Recently, I was head-hunted by a large corporation in Barcelona, bringing my freelance days to an end. But the project was so successful that in my free time I’ve continued to monitor and report the news on Spanish taxes and setting up a business in Spain.

How can you help?

Make this your project too! If you would like to help make freelancing in Spain easier, you can:

  • Share your self-employed experiences and tips in comments – much appreciated by everyone!
  • Let me know if you see anything that’s not correct
  • Are you an expert? Contribute a guest post
  • Recommend a topic you’d like to see discussed
  • Share this blog and its resources with other self-employed people you know

You can contact me at selfemployedinspain (at) gmail (dot) com.
I also write for Barcelonit, a blog about the city’s best bars, cafés and restaurants.

Disclaimer: This blog is based on my own observations and experience of being self-employed in Barcelona, Spain. I’m not a lawyer or a tax expert; so it’s essential that you do your own research before taking any decisions. Posts are intended to offer ‘food for thought’ on freelancing in Spain and to contribute to the debate.

(c) Penelope, 2016

24 Replies to “About Me”

  1. Hello! Thanks for the advice on here… because of this blog, I’ve just filled-in my first Modelo 130 and Modelo 303, after registering for all the usual schemes.

    Will keep a note of your blog and watch what happens.

    1. Wow, thanks John! As always, I’ll add my quick disclaimer in here – you should just take what I say as blurbling about my own experience: I’m not a professional gestor and can’t guarantee I’ve got it all right, so do check with other sources. That said, I’m really happy to hear that it’s been useful and delighted that you’ve taken the time to write in and tell me so. Glad your declarations have gone well, I’ll hopefully be covering the Declaración de la Renta soon, so you might want to keep an eye out for that. And if there’s any topics you’d like to see covered, don’t hesitate to let me know or even submit an article yourself if there’s something you feel strongly about: I’m always interested to hear what other autónomos are up to.

  2. Splendid… this is a reassuring blog indeed. Health card will be today’s task. My three-month London-issued N.I.E. certificate expired last week so my little green card was obtained yesterday, without any difficulty after showing print-outs from Social Security. The downloadable certificate the government supplies solves all sorts of problems.

    Of course, it was quite a walk to find a bank that would process the Modelo 790 after 10.15am but we like a challenge. And the government-supplied email inbox shows no notifications outstanding… which was worth discovering because they seem to think that, whether or not one knows about or reads that inbox, any notices are considered “read” after ten days. I look forward to your next post.

    1. Hello John,

      This comment made me laugh, especially the comment about “it was quite a walk to find a bank” (I experienced the exact same thing – you do think they’d build the two together!). Good tip about the inbox, as well – I’ll keep an eye on that. It has been quite a busy period of late, although hoping to post again soon. I can’t complain though – in terms of self-employment, this is generally a good sign!

      Thanks for writing in, I do appreciate the comments so keep them coming and don’t hesitate to suggest ideas or even send in your own articles if there’s something you’d like to see published.


  3. Hola!
    Thanks for a great tips! I have just arrived to BCN and I am considering autonomo. Do you know maybe an accountant company that you could recommend?

    This coffe and wifi post was a lifesaver! Thanks 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comment! I’m really glad that you have found this blog useful. The coffee and wifi post is the result of years of testing out cafés in Barcelona (it’s a hard life). In response to your other question, I’m actually currently doing a bit of research on this. I’ll let you know, but it might be quite a long time before I find out. In the meantime, if you find anyone you would recommend, don’t hesitate to send me their contact details.

      Thanks again for writing in, always a real pleasure to know people have enjoyed my blog!

  4. Hello Penelope,

    Thanks for that very useful information.

    I just had a doubt on the maximum revenu a self employed can earn: is it really 7000-8000€? this seems very low compared to other European countries.
    Or is it only the revenu until which you don’t pay any taxes?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Really glad you’ve found it useful!

      Apologies, that should read 8000-9000€ (I’ve changed the original article)! This is the minimum wage in Spain (in 2015 it’s 9080.40€/year) and it’s generally considered (although not in any legal declarations) that you can earn up to this amount as an autónomo and not have to pay seguridad social if you’re already paying it in another job. That said, you do still have to pay IVA and IRPF regardless – see my page on paying tax if you have any doubts on how to do this.

      Hope that helps! Bear in mind I’m not a professional gestor, just someone going through the same process, so if you have any doubts make sure you seek professional advice.

    2. PS Even with this modification, yes, 9080€ is still peanuts compared to the minimum wage in other European countries!

    1. Good question! I honestly haven’t ever thought about it much. Both types of autonomo have to pay hefty amounts of tax, so I guess it’s more of a personal choice than anything. I personally know a mix of people who do both. What do you think?

  5. My husband and I retired early and moved here a year ago. I have been offered work teaching English (TEFL). I am aware that I will have to go Autonomo and that even If I earn nothing I still pay the monthly contribution This for me is not a problem as we can afford to make these payments without an income, the plus side for me as that we are then covered for Healthcare . However is there a minimum income you have to earn to retain your autonomo status?

    I am finding your blog very interesting

    1. Hello Tanya,

      Sorry, my earlier response to you got cut off! Glad you’re finding the blog interesting.

      To my knowledge, there is no minimum contribution for autónomos. I also believe that if you are giving language classes you don’t have to pay VAT. You might like to double-check everything with a professional before you begin – perhaps the people who’ve offered you work can help you with this?

      Thanks for your comment and if you do sign up as self-employed let us know how it goes!

  6. Hi
    I’ve just posted a comment in the THE COST OF GOING FREELANCE IN SPAIN section.
    It’s great to find a site in English about self employment!

  7. Thanks so much for this blog! As someone who didn’t even know where to start, it’s extremely helpful to get a clear, concise introduction. Your efforts are much appreciated!

  8. Hi
    well I posted above many months ago. Following on I am now self employed as a teacher of English, which I am happy to say is exempt from IVA, but I still need to do returns every 3 months.

    My next job is to obtain our Health Cards as my understanding is, me being Self Employed covers both myself and my Husband. Have you any ideas how I start this process

  9. Hi Penelope,

    Great blog! I’ve been scouring the internet to try and find information about the tasks that needed to be done as an autonomo. I’ve been a contractor in Australia and UK and have always done my tax myself. But here in Spain there is a lack of information, even with my Spanish girlfriend helping me in my search. My first business trimester I had to pay an accountant 180 euro for doing the accounts of 3 invoices and 8 receipts!

    My question is, can you recommend some good online accounting software? I’ve used Xero in the past but it is not configured for the Spanish system.


    1. Thanks Michael! Glad you’ve found it useful and sympathise with the struggle. Bear in mind that I’m not technically an accounting professional, so make sure you check everything you read here. Some stuff may also be a little out of date.

      In terms of accounting software, I’ve never actually used it myself but have heard good things about Anfix. If you do try it, let us know how you get on!

  10. Just to say I’ve now been autonomo for a year. I have our healthcare cards and the whole process has been fairly easy. Returns done by my gestor

  11. Hi Penelope

    i’m working with a Spanish freelance supplier.
    My firm is outside of the EU.
    Do i need to pay him IRPF and IVA ?

    Many thanks


    1. Hello Reuben!

      IRPF – you don’t need to pay this. The freelancer you’ve hired will declare around 20% of their profits to the government in IRPF; however this is a tax on them rather than a tax on you. You are unlikely to even see any reference to this in an invoice (unless your freelancer in Spain is in the habit of including a full cost breakdown).

      VAT/IVA – whether or not you pay this depends on whether you’re based within the EU or outside the EU. If you’re within the EU, in general you pay VAT rates that are applicable in your country. The EU’s website contains more information about this here. If you are buying from outside the EU, you do not pay VAT. The freelancer you work with is simply required to be transparent about the amount of business they’ve done with you on their tax returns. Local laws may also require this information or other from you – check with a local accountant if you have doubts.

      Hope this helps,

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