Signing up as self-employed if you’re from abroad

If you’re an immigrant who’d like to start up a business in Spain, what are your options? Can you sign up as self-employed?

If you’re from the EU (“intracomunitario”, as it’s known in legalese), this is relatively simple (or at least, as simple as working for yourself in Spain can ever be). EU laws mean that everyone has the right to freelance in any of the member states.

But what if you’re from the States, Canada, South America or anywhere else in the world (“extracomunitario“)? What possibility do you have of working as self-employed then?

If you’re only planning on being away from your home country for a short period of time, you could sign up as self-employed and pay tax there. In the long term, however, you’ll probably want to be on the system in order to be able to use the healthcare and benefits system, and not signing up could actually be illegal. Do not fear, however – it is possible to work for yourself in Spain, even if you’re from another country – you’ll just need to show that you have the necessary resources to do so.

Process for foreign self-employed workers

If you’re coming from outside the European Union, in order to legally work for yourself in Spain, you’ll need to obtain a temporary work permit for those working for “cuenta propia” (for themselves). To do this, fill in Modelo EX07 and take it to the Spanish Consulate’s office in your own country of residence. Along with this, you’ll need to present:

  • Your passport or equivalent (you must be over 16)
  • Any criminal certification
  • Bill of clean health (to show you don’t suffer from any of the IHR’s diseases subject to quarantine)
  • Any professional qualifications you would need to carry out the business activity you propose (university degress, diplomas, etc.)
  • Proof that you possess the economic capital needed to put your business idea in action
  • Your business plan
  • Any information about any authorisations or licenses you’ll need, and where in the process you are in obtaining these

Your application will be sent onto the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who will process it and update you on the results. If successful, you’ll be required to move to Spain in a period of under three months, where you’ll then be able to properly sign up as self-employed with the Hacienda and Social Security (which you should also do in under three months). Your permit lasts for a year.

Your local Spanish Consulate should also be able to advise you (hopefully in your local language, too), so it might be wise to ask them to check you’re covering all your bases.

Finally, it’s also worth pointing out that foreign self-employed workers in Spain are a growing number. One would hope this will eventually pressure the authorities to reduce the amount of bureaucracy involved.

Text and photos by Penelope. Source: Ministry of Employment and Social Security.

Posted in Tax

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