advice, autonomo, finance, spain, work

You’re Finally Autónomo. Now What? Seguridad Social.

As a freelance English teacher, I officially became autónoma in 2017 in Santander. So I’ve been where you are, figuring out step by step how to take care of all the tax paperwork. I didn’t hire a gestor at any point, I do my “altas” and “bajas” each year, and I’ve always done my own taxes each quarter and each year. *This post is not meant to be taken as legal advice, it’s just a guide to walk you through the registration process. Please consult a lawyer or asesor if you need more specific help. 

You’ve done all the paperwork, made a ton of appointments, waited endlessly to see if the Spanish government would look favorably upon your humble plea to let you work as a freelancer and therefore let you stay in Spain. You’ve just received the news: Resolución Favorable! Congratulations, you made it! You’re not going to be deported, and you can legally start earning your well-deserved freelance income…. and pay taxes on it. 

The first step will be to get you registered in the social security system. This will grant you access to Spain’s massive public healthcare system and let you take advantage of retirement pay later on if you retire in Spain. Just like back in the US, people worry that there aren’t enough young people working to support the retired population. I’m sure there is some truth to that, but we autónomos are contributing to the system, and hopefully there will be enough money when it’s our turn to retire.

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

So where do we start? Let’s get ready to fill out some forms!

What is a Código del Impuesto de Actividades Económicas?

During the process you’ll be asked for some data that you’ll think OMG, what is this and why is it so complicated? Don’t worry, we’ll grab that information before you start to make the process quicker and easier.

Specifically, you will need two codes called “el Código del Impuesto de Actividades Económicas (IAE) y el código de actividad CNAE.” These are government-issued codes that correspond to different types of jobs. The IAE code is how they classify what tax bracket you’re in and whether or not you have to charge IVA (sales tax), while the CNAE is for statistical purposes.

To get them, head over to the official Agencia Tributaria search page. You can choose from the left drop-down menu what category your job is in (Empresarial, Profesional, etc.) but it’s easier to leave that set to “Todas.” Then type something in the search field. For example, if you’re planning to teach, type “enseñanza.” If you’re a language teacher, in the results list you’ll choose Otras actividades de enseñanza, Grupo 933.9. 

iae list

If you open it by clicking Detalle, you’ll get a nice and very handy list of all the codes you’ll need plus some additional information. You can copy and paste everything you see and save it somewhere for future reference because you will need it later. You can see the Epígrafe number, 933.9, and at the bottom of the page, Correspondencia CNAE. Definitely make a note of those two numbers. If you play around with the buttons on the right, you can get more details about your tax situation. In this specific group (language teaching), we are exempt from charging and paying the tax Impuesto sobre Valor Añadido (IVA). Okay, now we are ready to move on to the good stuff! The first registration step is with Seguridad Social.


iae y cnae

Another thing you will need is a social security number. If you’ve never had a job in Spain, you probably don’t have one yet. It’s easy to request one on the Seguridad Social website.  You just need to fill out your personal data and also take a photo of yourself. 

How to register with the Spanish Seguridad Social

You can register with Seguridad Social up to 60 days before the start of your work activity. Here’s how to complete the process online! It’s super quick and you can do it from home.

Get started by going to the Seguridad Social  page. Just click “Solicitar Alta” and it will take you to the login page.


Here you’ll see different options of how to log in. If you’re new in Spain, you probably don’t have your DNIe or certificado digital yet (the last option in the list). You can choose Cl@ve PIN and they’ll send you a code via SMS. You just need to provide the Soporte number in the top right corner of your TIE card. If you don’t have your actual card yet, you can choose Via SMS and you can input your NIE number.

Part 1

Once you’re in, you can select Aceptar y Continuar, and the first screen will ask you to add the date of the start of your activity. So whatever date you plan to start working as autónomo.

The next question will ask you, if your start date isn’t the 1st day of the month, if you want to “cotizar desde el fecha de inicio” or “cotizar mes completo.” It’s just asking if you want to pay the full month’s fee (second option) or only a partial month (first option). I always choose the partial month option – who wants to pay more? 

Part 2

On the next page it asks what activity you’ll be starting. Most likely you should choose the first option, “Por mi cuenta o en mi negocio.” After that, you’re ready to enter the CNAE code you looked up earlier – the one at the bottom of the information page. There is a search box to help you if you need it.

After entering the code, you need to choose the tax agency you report to. In 99% of cases, people report to Agencia Tributaria, the first option. Here you need to input the other code you grabbed before, the IAE. You have to enter it with no periods or spaces – in my case, 933.9 becomes 9339. 

You’ll then be asked if you belong to a “colegio profesional.” This is an official regulatory group for people that practice a specific profession, like doctors or psychologists. You will choose “No es mi caso” unless you’ve gone through that regulatory process.

Now it’s time to enter the address where you’ll be doing the work. If you work from home, obviously, this will be your home address.

Part 3

The next screen is information about the “cuota” – the monthly fee you have to pay into the Social Security system, which gives you access to the public healthcare system and retirement pay. You can get a type of “sick leave” pay under certain conditions as well. Just click Entendido, continuar.

Now the fun part: calculating how much you will pay. There’s a link to a table of calculations that’s a bit confusing, but all you really need to do is estimate your monthly income and enter it into the box. There’s also a link to help you calculate your monthly income if you need it. You can always come back and change that later if your income changes.

On the next screen, it has calculated a sliding scale for you where the second set of numbers is your “base” for the Social Security payment. At the bottom, use the sliding scale to move the dot somewhere in between those two numbers above. I tend to put it toward the lower end, but it’s up to you. 

The number you choose now isn’t too important because since you’re a new autónomo, lucky you – you get to enjoy a flate rate of 80 euros per month for the first year! So on the next page, choose the first option, Tarifa Plana. 

Next, you need to answer a question about whether you have another job apart from your freelance work – meaning a job working for someone else here in Spain. If you do, choose the first option “Sí” and if not choose “No.” 

Now a question about insurance. You probably don’t have any unemployment insurance set up yet, so in this list just choose a company. I usually choose Fremap. Hopefully you won’t need it, but this is the company who will help you get paid if you need to go on sick or maternity leave.

Part 4

Enter your email address and phone number and then verify your phone number. They’re pretty good at sending text notifications to your mobile. 

Part 5

Now enter your bank account’s IBAN number without any spaces, and choose “Sí” if you are the owner of the account.

Part 6

Finally, just review all your data to make sure you’ve entered everything correctly. You have to click the checkbox “Doy mi conformidad” to confirm you accept the terms, and then click Firmar.

Wrapping up

You’re all done! It’s a good idea to download a copy of your confirmation page for your records. If you need to go back and change anything later, you can go back to the homepage and click “Modificación de Datos.” 

Another important point: if you stop providing freelance services for a period of time, you’ll need to go back into the dashboard and complete a “Baja.” You can do the alta and the baja up to three times per year. I always do a baja in the summer while I’m not earning any income from teaching.

Hope this was helpful! Our next step will be registering with Hacienda, the national tax authority. 

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