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Advice on working in Spain
Thread poster: xxxStrastran
xxxStrastran
France
Local time: 15:55
French to English
+ ...
Sep 13, 2007

Hello all

I'm a freelance translator/interpreter based in the UK, and my partner is about to accept a place on a course at the University of Barcelona. As I do most of my work over the internet, logistically it won't be a problem if we move (though I would lose my interpreting side given that I do French to English).

I am, however, ignorant of current practices in Spain regarding (self-)employment. I've read on another thread about the rules for paying tax, namely that you are deemed to be resident (and thus a taxpayer) if you spend 183 days in an EU country.

I don't own any property in the UK (our flat is privately rented) so would perhaps have to register my business in Spain, unless my parents would let me register it at their house in the UK

Does anyone have experience of working as a freelancer between two countries, preferably Spain in particular? What rules are there on registering as self-employed, and might it be tricky finding a flat without proof of employment?

Any advice or information would be very gratefully received.

Thanks in advance.

Patrick


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lexical  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:55
Portuguese to English
Certainly possible... Sep 14, 2007

Hi Patrick,

It's correct that you will have to register for tax (as self-employed - autónomo) if you spend more than 183 days here in any year. You will also have to register with Social Security (currently about 220 euros/month flat cost for the self-employed). The first step, however, is to get your NIE (número de identificación de extranjero) from the foreigners' police - without that, you won't be able to open a bank account, register for tax or social security, and much else besides.

Many people find it helpful to employ a 'gestor' (a bureaucracy fixer / accountant) to deal with the bureaucracy.

It's certainly possible to live in Spain and have one's customers elsewhere. Most of mine are in Portugal and the UK, which means that I can charge them 0% VAT, something that significantly reduces the quarterly form-filling.

Tax allowances for the self-employed here are similar to in the UK - you can deduct a proportion of your rent, phone, electricity, hardware and materials, etc. Tax is paid quarterly in arrears at 20% of your net income, and is adjusted in an annual return, often meaning a small rebate. A good 'gestor' can be worth his fee here too.

Someone who lives in Barcelona may be able to advise on renting flats. Where Valencia is concerned, some landlords require the tenant to have regular salaried employment or demand a bank guarantee for a year's rent, but many don't. And there are always landlords who prefer to rent to students. Here, you could expect to pay 500+ euros/month for a studio apartment.

You can write to me through my profile if you have any further questions and I'll do my best to help.


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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
Good advice Sep 14, 2007

lexical wrote:

Many people find it helpful to employ a 'gestor' (a bureaucracy fixer / accountant) to deal with the bureaucracy.



I've lived full time in Spain for 22 years. I just want to say that everything lexical said was spot on. I heartily agree with the importance of finding a good "gestor". You may want to look for one that specializes in matters for foreigners.

Good luck

John


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megane_wang  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:55
English to Spanish
+ ...
Great advice, in fact Sep 14, 2007

I agree with lexical and John,

I don't know how much a "Gestor" may cost to an individual "autonómo". Mine costs around 100 Euro/month to manage my basic accounting, taxes, Social Security (here 'SS' too), plus two employees (a designer and a programmer). I pay a little extra to prepare my annual taxes, but it's a real life saver, particularly because a) I detest paperwork and b) I've got very little time for it.

In Barcelona the average flat rent is around 700 Euro/month, but of course that depends on many factors (900 Euro/month is nothing rare either).

I studied in the Universitat de Barcelona and I know that they had a good service for accomodation/accomodation advice. If your partner is going to study there I really recommend that you check there first.

Prior to getting your NIE you need to go to your district town hall offices and register your address there ("empadronarse"). Then you'll be ready to ask for the NIE.

You may also get assistance from the Universitat de Barcelona on that, apart from the Barcelona town hall web site (http://www.barcelona.cat/) or local information telephone (010 calling from within the city).

Best luck!

Ruth @ MW



[Edited at 2007-09-14 09:09]


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
upfront payment Sep 14, 2007

megane_wang wrote:


In Barcelona the average flat rent is around 700 Euro/month, but of course that depends on many factors (900 Euro/month is nothing rare either).




[Edited at 2007-09-14 09:09]


The upfront payments can be hefty, as, apart from your first month's rent, there may an agency fee, 1-2 months' deposit, and finally, an amount of 3-6 months lodged in the bank by you in your name but which you can't touch as it is a guarantee to the owner in case you default on payments.

So you may end up paying 000s of euros to take up a contract on a flat.


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Rosa Diez Tagarro  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:55
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
+ ...
True Sep 15, 2007

I'm Spanish, so I can't provide any advice on certain specific matters for foreigners in Spain.

However, I can tell you a "gestor" (I also recommend you find one) will be charging around 70 Euro/month to an individual "autonómo". That's what mine costs, and she manages everything including the preparation of annual taxes and advice at all times. He/she will save you lots of time.

The info you've been given about flats is (sadly) true. Be warned renting here could drive anybody insane. And I hate to say this, but there are not so many flats to rent and owners tend to prefer locals or Europeans who are working here and can provide proof of employment.

I'm not sure you have mentioned it, do you speak Spanish? Not so many people here speak English, so it's always to your advantage if you speak some Spanish.

I have also heard the University has a good service for accomodation.

Best of luck!

Rosa


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
how long for? Sep 15, 2007

Patrick Stenson wrote:

.... and my partner is about to accept a place on a course at the University of Barcelona.

Patrick



Bureaucratrically Spain is extremely complicated for the self-employed, and obviously, more so if you don't know the language, so if your partner and you are not planning to stay indefinitely, it might be better to consider retaining a business address in the UK and sort of bending the rules a bit. If you are thinking of staying long term, that's another issue.


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tom_michell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ventanilla Única Sep 15, 2007

http://www.vue.es/

This is the place to go if you're setting up as a freelancer in Spain. Unfortunately, despite there being numerous offices around Spain, it seems they don't have one in Barcelona/Catalonia. I thought I'd mention it anyway for future reference when people search the forum.

The idea is to provide advice for people setting up their own business and to bring all the different bodies and agencies (Social security, Hacienda, local government) under one roof to save you traipsing around the city for a week (hence ventanilla única). The end result is you can register with them all and be up and running as a freelancer in literally half an hour. You need all your other bureaucracy sorted out first (NIE, social sec. number, bank account), but once you have these, you can go from scratch to businessman in less time than it takes to write a cheque for a gestor.

I really can't speak highly enough of my experience with this. It's a breath of fresh air and a model for the future because it genuinely puts the citizen ahead of the institution. The staff are very helpful and proactive and unrecognisable compared to the arrogant, apathetic and cynical people I have encountered in every single other public body.


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xxxStrastran
France
Local time: 15:55
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks! Sep 19, 2007

Thanks to everyone for your excellent advice!

I didn't know about the existence of the 'gestor', for example, so that's something I'll definitely look into. My partner's course is one year, though obviously if we like life over there we may stay on. We both speak Spanish to a certain degree but not superbly well - enough though I think to deal with administration etc.

My partner will be studying at the Universitat so I'll investigate their acccommodation service.

Thanks again all of you for your help, it's really invaluable so I really appreciate it.

Patrick


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