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Becoming a freelance translator in Spain
Thread poster: Nathalie Coutelle

Nathalie Coutelle  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:37
Member
English to French
+ ...
Nov 12, 2015

Hi all,


I am planning to move to Spain.

Can someone explain the administrative procedures to establish myself as freelance translator in Spain ?

All info and tips are welcome ☺

Thanks in advance


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:37
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
crashed at the first hurdle... Nov 12, 2015

Of course there are probably some tips you can get specifically about becoming a translator... but if you are going to be a freelancer / self employed at all, you might want to figure things out yourself a bit...

Maybe you have the option between doing X or Y and can ask translators what is their experience....

See:

http://selfemployedinspain.com/
http://www.expatica.com/es/employment
http://www.thelocal.es/jobs/article/think-carefully-before-you-register-as-self-employed

and this one will probabaly help too:
http://www.thelocal.es/20140522/spanish-language-swearing-angry-8-great-phrases


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Álvaro Espantaleón  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:37
Member (2015)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Some guidance Nov 12, 2015

First: physical address in Spain + NIE + bank account

Second:

With Agencia Tributaria:

1) Alta de actividad (modelo 037)

Seguridad Social

2) Alta RETA

Agencia Tributaria again:

3) Alta en Registro de Operadores Intracomunitarios (modelo 036) This will be your VAT EU number.


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Anhilgen  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:37
Member
English to German
+ ...
Find a good "gestor" Nov 12, 2015

Getting yourself registered as a freelance translator with the tax and social security authorities is not overly complicated but I'd recommend hiring a good "gestor" to do it for you and to guide you through your first tax declarations.
Bascially, you just have to register at the tax office and at the social security agency in the town where you are going to live. If you're not a Spanish national you will need a NIE (tax number for foreigners) in order to register.

NIE:
http://www.interior.gob.es/web/servicios-al-ciudadano/extranjeria/ciudadanos-de-la-union-europea/numero-de-identidad-de-extranjero-nie-
Alta de autómomo:
http://infoautonomos.eleconomista.es/alta-autonomo-obligaciones/

Good luck!


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:37
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Quite easy but expensive Nov 12, 2015

You'll be doing most of it yourself, I imagine, seeing that you speak Spanish. I didn't have a word when I arrived so had to have some help but I'm trying to wean myself off that now. Frankly, I sometimes feel I know more about the system as it relates to me than my 'asesor'.

Frankly, there isn't much to do: just register with the tax office, register with social security and you're off. You'll have to register for VAT too, I expect (we don't have that in the Canaries). It doesn't cost much to register, but it costs at least €277 a month in contributions (after the first settling-in period - you're lucky, it was from Day 1 when I arrived!), plus taxes - paid quarterly on the business income (unless most of your clients are Spanish companies - for them there's a sort of PAYE system) and then your figures are incorporated into your annual tax return for a final settlement, which may mean either a rebate or more to pay.

Don't believe people who tell you that if you don't earn more than n times the minimum wage you don't have to register or pay anything. Maybe you could "get away with it" in some jobs but our remote working means invoices and paper trails all over the place. As a foreign resident you'll be needing to register anyway to get your social security i.e. state healthcare.


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Nathalie Coutelle  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:37
Member
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Nov 12, 2015

Thanks so much Sheila, Anette and Alvaro for the useful info.

Much appreciated!


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Nathalie Coutelle  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:37
Member
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
NIE and self-employment Nov 18, 2015

Hi,

After doing some reading on how to get the NIE on the basis of self-employment in Spain, it seems that I need to prove that I am already registered as self-employed in social security. But it seems that I need the NIE to register with Social Security!!

Any of you had that problem? How did you get round it?


Thanks

Nathalie


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:37
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
The problem is with the "word" NIE Nov 18, 2015

Nathalie Coutelle wrote:
After doing some reading on how to get the NIE on the basis of self-employment in Spain, it seems that I need to prove that I am already registered as self-employed in social security. But it seems that I need the NIE to register with Social Security!!

The NIE is actually just a number, attributed for life in every instance. But it gets used too for the bits of paper that go to prove all sorts of things.

You can get a "white NIE" or "non-resident NIE" just for the asking and the paying. They are for anyone who rents or buys accommodation in Spain, buys a car, opens a bank account or gets a job. If you can prove the wish to do any one of those, go to the main police station with the right forms, documents plus copies, and some money and you'll be given a NIE printed on a white A4 piece of paper. You can go yourself or give POA to a lawyer. Armed with one of those, you can start your business.

The "green NIE" or "registro" is another kettle of fish. That's to become officially resident here. More forms and proofs needed but also the police can really gave you the third degree. You have to declare that you're claiming residency as either:-
- someone who has a job contract or has set up a business, or
- someone who has independent means and will not call upon the state for any aid.
With that in your pocket you're "in"! Here in the Canaries, it gets you half-price travel to other islands or mainland Spain, half-price admission to all museums and cultural events (including the zoo and, strangely enough, the water park). However, I think those are just for us "culturally-disadvantaged" islanders. Poor us. But for all foreigners, it gives the right to stay here as an honorary Spanish citizen with most of the same rights.

The problem is that many people set up businesses JUST to get residency and the benefits that go with it. So I had to give all sorts of info about my previous business in France - my turnover, number of clients, etc, etc, plus my expectations in Spain. All in Spanish. To be honest, I coped in the station then burst into tears on the pavement outside. We were both shaking for some time.

Hopefully it will all be plain sailing for you. We arrived at the worst possible time, in July 2012, when they were cracking down on waste after many years of sponging by Brit (and other) expats.


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Nathalie Coutelle  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:37
Member
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Sheila Nov 19, 2015

Thanks so much Sheila for taking the time to share your experience.

At least, now I know I need to get ready!!


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Nathalie Coutelle  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:37
Member
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Order of procedures Nov 28, 2015

Hello,

Does it mean that I first need to go to police to apply for "non resident NIE", then apply as Autonomo, and then go back to police to apply for the "resident NIE or registro" ?

Do you know if I can apply for the "resident NIE" via power of attorney or if I need to do it in person ?


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:37
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Good questions Nov 28, 2015

Nathalie Coutelle wrote:
Does it mean that I first need to go to police to apply for "non resident NIE"

I believe some people do go straight for the resident NIE. However, most of us find that we need the actual number as soon as we do anything over here. Accommodation, phone company, electricity company, bank, even the post office when you send or receive parcels - they all want the number.

then apply as Autonomo

I think it's very unlikely that you can apply without the all-important number that the registration is keyed on. You certainly can't raise an invoice or get VAT registration.

Do you know if I can apply for the "resident NIE" via power of attorney or if I need to do it in person?

I'm sure you need to go in person for the resident one. They need to check the photo against the face - even babies and schoolkids have to be present.

Are you trying to have yourself set up and running on day one of arriving there? If so, good luck. But have you thought about working for up to three months under your present business setup? I presume you're self-employed in the UK? There's nothing to stop you continuing to invoice through that business, paying UK taxes etc for the first three months - that's a right we all have as EU citizens. You'd also have health cover through your EHIC. During the three months you can get things sorted out. That's certainly how I dealt with it - I moved in May 2012 and invoiced from my French business until 1st July so that the break was at the quarter end.

But you really need to speak to a gestor, of course.


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Nathalie Coutelle  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:37
Member
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Timeline Nov 29, 2015

Thanks so much Sheila for your help! I'm so grateful, you can't imagine!

One more question: realistically how long does it take to register as self-employed with the tax office (Agencia Tributaria) and join the autonomo social security system ? Is it a matter of a few days or it's a long process?


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:37
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Another good question Nov 29, 2015

Nathalie Coutelle wrote:
realistically how long does it take to register as self-employed with the tax office (Agencia Tributaria) and join the autonomo social security system ? Is it a matter of a few days or it's a long process?

My asesor handled the first and got the two of us (him and me) an appointment for the second. Everything he does takes a while - a reminder is needed before he ever takes any action at all. But I've heard from others that it's quick. I think to a great extent it will depend on how appointments work in your area - in some there are long waiting periods, in others you just walk in and wait. But there's no waiting for documents to arrive, as far as I remember. The autónomo papers have to appear in some journal or other (boletin?) before they're truly official but that's just a formality. And thankfully you can register with a doctor with just the paper they print off as you wait. I say thankfully as we're still waiting for our plastic cards. But it's been less than four years, so mañana we'll see them. The A4 sheets of paper we carry with us every day (in case of accidents - don't want them thinkng we're tourists with private insurance) aren't quite in tatters yet.


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Kamtka
Czech Republic
Local time: 12:37
English to Czech
is it possible to legally translate part-time without being autonomo? Nov 30, 2016

Hi, i want to move to Spain in the near future and look for a job. However, I am a part-time translator and I am at home with a 3 year old. When I go to Spain I want to keep translating because it can sustain my life in Spain. However I am not making enough money to pay the eur 200+ every month to move my business to spain. So is there a way to avoid the social system contribution because I make too little eg 500 eur per month or because i will find an employer who will pay the contributions? Thank you for your suggestions!

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:37
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Only under very particular conditions Dec 1, 2016

Kamtka wrote:
Hi, i want to move to Spain in the near future and look for a job. However, I am a part-time translator and I am at home with a 3 year old. When I go to Spain I want to keep translating because it can sustain my life in Spain. However I am not making enough money to pay the eur 200+ every month to move my business to spain. So is there a way to avoid the social system contribution because I make too little eg 500 eur per month or because i will find an employer who will pay the contributions? Thank you for your suggestions!

You can certainly do the odd translation for local individuals and businesses, you may even be able to issue legitimate invoices - I'm not sure. But you will quickly run into problems, I think. It isn't supposed to be regular income, i.e. you shouldn't translate monthly newsletter and catalogues for businesses, but you could translate a book for an author. And no way can you earn above the minimum wage. Not sure what that is per month but it's only around €5 per hour. I also don't know what would happen about VAT. Everyone is supposed to charge VAT here (except those of us who live in the Canary Islands). I know that Spanish citizens have traditionally got away with a lot and still do to some extent, but everything is being tightened up and it wouldn't be good for an immigrant to start life here by breaking the law and avoiding contributing to the state coffers while enjoying the facilities (such as free schooling in your case). So you would need to get legal and financial advice.

Have you considered what you would do about health insurance? You have to have it to become resident here, and if you aren't contributing to the state system then that means going private. You say you're going to look for a job, but there's 25% or so unemployment here and a mother with a young kid is not going to be an employer's first choice. If you don't speak fluent Spanish you're likely to be in for a long wait, I'm afraid. Sorry, but that's the reality. At least becoming an autónomo will give health cover to you and all your dependants, which makes healthcare totally free apart from a contribution towards drug costs. At the moment, new autonomos only have to pay €50 per month for a short while, rising to €267 in steps. Young people and women both qualify for further help. And just this week they started seriously debating major changes, a debate brought about by the government's need to listen to opposition parties. It really does look as though there will be three or four levels of contribution in the future, depending on income. Quite when that future will arrive is debatable of course. But the need to make coalitions work is a pressing one.


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