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Starting A Business in Spain

- Updated: 03/06/2011
Starting A Business in Spain

If you are living in spain and wish to start your own business here, you need to register as self employed (autonomo) for income tax and social security reasons. many small businesses also prefer that their staff are autonomo too, as this effectively means that they are working without a contract and are therefore liable for paying all taxes and contributions themselves, and are working without the protected rights that a contracted employee would have.

Tax registration

You may already be registered for tax (for instance if have already purchased and sold a property here)or if you have had any other employment in Spain. Contact an assesor or gestor and give them your NIE number and they will check to see if you are on the tax office's ( Hacienda ) database. If you are, they can then proceed to register you as Autonomo online without the need for any further documentation.

If you are not already on the hacienda’s database then you need to take copies of the following documents to your assesor or gestor ....

  • NIE
  • Passport
  • Certificado de Empadronamiento (available at your local Ayuntamiento - town hall)

Social security registration

It is necessary to then present your autonomo registration at your local social security office (however, your assesor may do this included in the whole process for you - but make sure!)

  • Copy of your NIE.
  • Copy of your passport picture page.

Usually you will be required to have these copies certified (compulsada). Your local Ayuntamiento will often do this for free, if not a Notary will be able to do this for you at a modest charge.

Social security contributions

The current rate is approximately 240 euros per month and after registration this will be debited automatically from your bank account at the end of each month.

There is optional state cover for work-related accidents and illness; the extra monthly contribution for this is roughly 25 euros.

What happens after registration?

Once you are registered, you or your Asesor must submit quarterly income tax returns and payments on account. This is usually done the 3rd week of jan, april, july & october, but your facturas need to be presented to him sooner to enable him to prepare and submit the tax return.

Your quarterly tax bill will then be calculated based on the iva that you have charged minus the iva that you can reclaim. Your assesor will then give you a slip which you need to pay by bank transfer at your local bank (usually before the 21st of the month) - Fines are levied for late payment!

If you are supplying goods or services which are subject to vat (called iva in spain), it is also necessary to file quarterly returns.

Social security benefits

As of the 6th novermber 2010, changes to the social security system for autonomo workers allows the option of paying a voluntary 1.7% extra contributions (approx 15 euros per month) in order to have provision for a maximum 12 months unemployment benefit payments. The duration of time that payments will be made for will depend on the amount of time that contirbutions have previously been made, and a minimum qualifying period of 12 months contributions is in place.

Please click here if you wish to read about these changes to procedure.

Comment on this Article

Hi. What is the situation with maternity pay if you are self employed?
Lisa - Mon 29th May 2017
I am self employed do / can I get benefit if my business goes under ?
Lorna Yates - Fri 22th Jul 2016
What is the position of a 77 year old starting a business in Spain ? - Does he have pay into the system even though he is already on the NHS and the UK is paying for his care and he is in receipt of a UK pension There would be very little income from the business
F Pegman - Tue 2th Sep 2014
Can anyone help? My husband has just gone self-employed and has his ss number. I am not working and our 2 kids are in spanish state school. I went with a friend to the local health centre to see what we needed to do to register. We were told that we need to go to an INSS office to add me and the kids on to my husband's ss number. Is this correct? Can anyone give me anymore info on this at all, just so I am a bit more prepared!!! TIA
Karen - Fri 5th Oct 2012
Thank you Ed, for your most helpful reply.
Catherine - Mon 13th Aug 2012
Catherine - All is not lost. Just because a patent or trade mark has been awarded does not mean it cannot be revoked. If you can prove your brand, and that you have been in business for sometime, you can contest the patent/trademark by contacting the Spanish Patent office and formally contest the brand. If they refuse to investigate fully, you can get in touch with the EU patent office. Spain has recently been forced to signup to a new EU wide patent law. In the law there is provision to contest any patents awarded, especially trademarks. Get a good patent lawyer, but also apply for a UK patent/trademark immediately. A UK patent is worth more than a Spanish one!
Ed Bishop - Sun 5th Aug 2012
Looks like from 31st July, I will have to close down my business (or at least change my brand name, which has taken me years to build up) because Barcelona Town Hall has decided to register the name "Barcelona" and so prevent anyone else from using it. Did I understand this correctly and, if so, can it be legal? What do you and your readers think? >>
Catherine Hart - Sun 5th Aug 2012
Claire : If you have been paying the optional supplement to give you unemployment cover, then yes, you can claim entitlement. If not, no. If you should decide you can wind up your Autonmo status and end your contributions, but your entitlement to Healthcare etc... will end after 6 months.
Tumbit - Admin - Sun 19th Feb 2012
Hi...I have been autonomo for 2yrs 6 months but do not have enough work to carry on...can I claim any unemployment benefits if I stop paying autonimo?...I have just a small market stall business but am losing money every week.
Claire Hamilton - Sun 19th Feb 2012
NIna : I have asked Raquel from Perez Legal to shed a little more light on this issue, which she has done Here
Tumbit - Admin - Mon 12th Dec 2011
I am receiving sickness benefit every week, and have to report to the doctor on a weekly basis to get the baja, sick note, but my solicitor said I should not pay my autonomo whilst I am off sick and receiving benefit, I am now very confused as below you have said I should continue to pay.
Nina Giles - Thu 8th Dec 2011

Nina : Three things here :

1) You will have had to have paid in the voluntary supplement for sickness benefit before you can claim any such payment

2) You will still need to pay your monthly contribution while you are claiming sickness benefits,

3) The length that you can make a claim for needs to be substantiated by a Doctor.

In the case of an Employee, you can claim for a maximum of 12 Months. This may be extended by a further 6 months if the Doctor feels that there is a strong chance a full recovery may be made within this period - otherwise you would be ruled as being `Permanently incapable of working´. I `expect´ that the rulings will be similar for Autonomos.

Tumbit - Admin - Wed 7th Dec 2011
The article did not help at all, it explains quite a few things regarding unemployment benefit, but I really need to know for what length of time I will be paid sickness benefit.
Nina Giles - Wed 7th Dec 2011
Nina : This article here may answer a few question that you may have > How to claim unemployment benefit in Spain
Tumbit - Admin - Wed 7th Dec 2011
I have contributed into the Spanish system now for 7 years, I have autonomo, I cannot work now due to needing two knee replacements, for how long will I be paid sickness benefit?
Nina Giles - Wed 7th Dec 2011
Ramon : In answer to your repeated question - We are NOT a Government agency, nor did you make any such application through us. Speak with the agency you made your application with.
Tumbit- Admin - Thu 28th Jul 2011
Dear Sir: Good morning. When do I expect to know the status of my application for Business Permission, which I filled in your office on May 9, 2011. How long can take the approval of this application? Thank you. Ramon R. Rosete Jr
Ramon Rodriguez Rosete Jr - Thu 28th Jul 2011
Ramon : We are not associated or affiliated with the Spanish Authorities in any way and therefore unable to advise you of the status of your application.
Tumbit - Admin - Thu 7th Jul 2011
July 7, 2011 Spanish Immigration Oficina de Extranjeros Avenida de Asturias 4 24008 Leon, Espana Sir: Good day, I am Ramon Rosete Jr. applying for Business Permission since May 8, 2011, may I know the status of my application for entering in your country. Is this granted by your country being as an applicant for economic business permit. Please advised me if my application is granted. Thank you very much. Sincerely yours, Ramon Rodriguez Rosete Jr Applicant for Business Permission
Ramon Rodriguez Rosete Jr - Thu 7th Jul 2011
hola como estas uds. well i want to do some kind of busines in spain i have my impadroment of six months in here i am an indian my residencial stetes is illigal iwant to ligalais myself ineed your direction thanks thakur
Thakur - Wed 23rd Jun 2010