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Legal confusion - Spain and the US
Thread poster: natalia c.

natalia c.
Spanish to English
Mar 4, 2005

Hello everybody! I was wondering if anyone had any information on the legal issues of becoming a freelance translator. For the last two years, I have been living in the south of Spain and completing my degree in Spanish from the University of Washington in Seattle. In addition to my Spanish studies, I also have a strong work background in internet technology and communications. Therefore, I thought.. one plus one... equals translation! However, I have a few questions that I am hoping this community may be able to help me with:

1. I am a US citizen, and I am in Spain with a student visa. If I choose to do freelance translation, do I need to set myself up through the US or Spanish government?? Legally all my information is still directed to my address in the US.

2. Should I wish to continue living in Spain, would I have to apply through the government for a self-employed visa or could I continue, paying taxes through the US? It seems unfair that I would pay taxes there and not here, but I have read that one must put 100,000 in the bank to be granted this visa... eeek!

Thanks for all your help.



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Local time: 23:03
Spanish to English
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work/residence permit needed Mar 4, 2005

Hi Natalia,

As a U.S. citizen, you need a work/residence permit issued by the Spanish government in order to work in Spain. It used to be (a few years ago, anyway) that you needed a special visa for this (which you had to obtain before coming to Spain). I'm not sure what the exact requirements would be for self-employment as opposed to working for someone else, but having a certain amount of money in the bank (to prove that you are able to support yourself) sounds right. I believe there's a lot of paperwork involved and it takes a long time. The page below has info. about work permits for self-employment, but I don't know how current it is (it should give you an idea, anyway):

Once you are working in Spain, you pay Spanish taxes (Spanish income tax and Seguridad Social).

The U.S. Embassy in Spain just gives a mailing address (Embassy of Spain in the U.S.) to contact about working papers for Americans.

Good luck,

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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:03
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Taxes in the US Mar 4, 2005

Regardless of whether you end up actually *paying* taxes to the US, you still have to file your tax return from abroad every year. I worked in Germany and paid German taxes, but had to file in the US as well. If you don't make above a certain amount, the "foreign earned income" is exempted from income tax in the US, but even with that zero on the bottom line of your 1040, you have to file the actual form so as to avoid trouble.

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natalia c.
Spanish to English
Thanks! Mar 7, 2005

Thank you both for your advice! I think I was sort of hoping as a freelancer, you can float around with your laptop and only pay taxes in your home country of official residency! But of course, things are never quite so simple.

Cindy - I think you are right about the Spanish visa. From what I understand, EITHER way I have to return to the states and apply for a work visa in San Francisco (I'm from Seattle). Oh, to be born in the EU...

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Legal confusion - Spain and the US

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