Getting NIE, residency, becoming autonomo

Hi there

Apologies at rehashing a very familiar thread. I'm hoping that someone has had recent experience of moving to Valencia and setting up as an autonomo, and wouldn't mind sharing it with me.

After several years of a long distance relationship between just outside Valencia and the UK, I have become self-employed and moved over here. I'm an editor in educational publishing. I now want to set myself up as an autonomo in Spain, and get residency.

In terms of documents, I am starting from absolutely nothing. I am living with my Valencian partner who has got no idea how to help me. I know of people who have managed to get their NIE, residency and become autonomo without the support of a company, so it must be possible.

I have an appointment to try to get a NIE at Calle Bailen in a few week's time. If anyone knows what I should be doing in the meantime and in what order, to get all the necessary documents, I would love to hear from you. From what I've read, it's going to be a frustrating and lengthy process, and I'm prepared for that.

Thanks everyone


As you have moved here you are required to apply for E U Citizen Registration immediately.   

  I would suggest you ask your Spanish partner to go to the police office where you have your appointment, collect the EX18 application form and the bank payment form. They can also confirm what you need, so no best guess info here, 

It is very straightforward, especially for an employed person such as you.

And take a look here: … s-in-Spain

There is  an English version of the EX18 here, to help those who do not speak Spanish to see how to complete the form, NB For the application one must use the  Spanish one : … ria_EN.pdf

Thanks very much, John. Very good idea to go to the office in advance to pick up any forms I can and get that moving. I'd imagined they may not admit me until the date of my appointment, but it can't hurt to try in the meantime.

Speaking of bank accounts, do you know of a Spanish account that foreigners can open before receiving their NIE? I have read about ones which you need a certificate of non-residence to open, which obviously isn't the certificate I need. But I have also read that you need a bank account to be able to pay the fee for the NIE..... there's a lot of conflicting advice out there.

Thanks again

The rules in Spain are applied in a rather flexible manner.  I would think you will have no problems  finding a bank which will let you open an account without an NIE, although you will subsequently have to produce one.

One pays the fee for the EU Citizens Registration by taking the payment form, which you get from the police, to any bank and paying in cash over the counter.

Banco Sabadell let us (Americans) open an account with only our passports; once our tarjeta residencias were issued to us (meaning we had our NIEs in a formal document) we went back in and they changed the account type over to one for Spanish citizens/residents.

Thanks very much! I gave Sabadell a try and they were happy to let me open a non-resident account with just a passport, although they were reluctant because shortly I will (hopefully) be a resident so will have to change the account. But they still let me open one.

For what it's worth, we had to get our tarjetas residencia at the office at Calle Gremis, 6, in Valencia. 

We went in a couple of days ahead of the appointment and they have an information desk just inside the front door.  There's a cop that organizes everyone and lets people in a few at a time to the little waiting area, but if you just want the info I think you can go in and wait; the desk is just to the left of the entry door, and the person working there can give you all the info on exactly what forms you need to bring in to your appointment.

It really expedited our appointment, because there wasn't any extra crap and we had everything they needed.

They tell you to come back in a month later to pick up the card, and then you are about as legal as you can get for Spain.  :)  With that, you can go back to the bank and they'll change over your account to a type for residents.

Be sure you have the carnet-size photos, not international-standard-size passport photos.  They won't take the latter for your card.

Hi Tom,

I have just joined this site so am looking through messages to get a feel for the place. My husband and I have just been through what (I hope) you have now completed. Have you reached the point yet whereby you need some help with the tax situation with a gestor or above? If so, we would be grateful to hear of your experiences as we are just at that same point right now and there is so much conflicting advice out there.

many thanks,


Mike Harman (or is it Mrs Harman (quote: My husband and I ). 

I speak with around 35 year experience of dealing with professionals in Spain,  living here 30 years and 20 years working with the Police assisting with reporting crimes, foreigners documentation etc.   

It is with regret that I say, it is almost impossible to be sure that a professional will get it right. Of course sometimes they must do, but many times their clients do not know if there have been errors, so believe all went without a hitch !  Ignorance is bliss sometimes,

My latest personal experience was in June last year when I repeatedly told a gestor who was completing my tax declaration that she was wrong, but despite her calling the Hacienda helpline for professionals a few times, she insisted that one of the replies she got was right. 

To cut the story short, several months later she paid me almost 3,000 euro that Hacienda owe me as a result of her errors. She said, if Hacienda ever refund the money to me I can repay her, if not then it is her loss.  I do not expect to get the refund from Hacienda:  And I have a personal friend who is in senior position in Hacienda who has been fighting my corner !

I am at present in discussions with another gestor who has now twice incorrectly completed a tax return for a former police office. She has repeatedly got the tax declaration regarding his Crown Pension (former Government employee, police, military, civil servant etc.)  wrong.

Another person I met at the police station when I was working, a former Ch Supt with the UK police, told me what happened when he made his tax declaration this year (with a different gesto)r.  After speaking to me he went back and his getsor has made some alterations:  I hope he got it right that time.

I could cite many more instances.

So perhaps toss a coin and take a chance you get someone competent. As I said, ignorance can be bliss sometimes.

Good luck Mr and Mrs Mike !

Hi Mike

Conflicting advice doesn't even start to cover it! Almost everything I have read online turned out to be different when I actually tried applying for the various documents I needed. And my experience is totally different to a friend who went through the same in Barcelona a few years ago (ie. set herself up as autonoma here, without any previous experience in Spain). But I think I'm almost there now.

My gestor hasn't been fantastically helpful, I have to say, but he has come through for me. He is a friend of a friend. I had to make two trips to the Hacienda office in person - the first without an appointment to get my details entered into the system, and the second via an appointment to get the digital certificate. My gestor told me he needed the digital certificate in order to get me 'la alta' as autonomo and with social security, so he was finally able to do that. This happened around the end of May, so I am now paying the monthly autonomo charge. It starts off fairly cheap but I know it becomes expensive within a few months. Spanish friends say I am mad to have become autonomo voluntarily, given the unforgiving monthly payments, but I have no other option if I want to live in Spain legally. More than anything, I want a history of living in Spain legally before Brexit happens so that I am hopefully allowed to stay. (although even this may not be enough, if the UK government backdates its 'cut-off point', and Spain reciprocates - as it will have every right too - I may already be too late. Am crossing my fingers that I'll be okay.)

Now it's tax time. My gestor has now told me to send him my invoices from June (which is when I entered the system here) and I believe I need to pay 20% on them. As I work for UK-based companies, I'm not obliged to charge VAT, but I believe that if your clients are in Spain, then you are. I believe this happens four times a year, and then I do the annual 'declaracion de la renta' along with everyone else to recalculate tax owed or due for the entire year. I believe at that point, I will need to fill out 'modelo 720', which is where you declare any foreign assets worth over 50,000 euros, such as properties.

I say 'I believe'.... because I'm asked him all these questions and I only get one piece of information at a time, to keep things ticking along. I'm trying to be patient and trust that he'll make sure I'm doing what I need to do, and it's worked out so far. But I really would like to sit down and go through all my questions at some point.

My biggest confusion here has been 'applying for residency'. Everything I've read suggests that you need to do this within 3 months of arriving in Spain, or - in practice - within three months of getting empadronado. However, this hasn't matched my experience. I managed to get registered as autonomo and social security within three months of becoming empadronado in my area. I went to the Police station (in Calle Bailen) to apply for the residency card, but they said I needed to have been paying social security for three months before I could apply. This is very confusing, because you need to be here a certain amount of time BEFORE you start paying social security (ie. to get a NIE - it takes a month to get an appointment! - and all those trips to Hacienda, etc), and if you wait three more months on top of that, then you're clearly here for quite a bit LONGER than three months before you can apply. At the Police station they told me to come back after I'd been paying for three months and not to worry about the start date of my empadronamiento. So .... that's what I'll do. I think the residency card is just something useful rather than necessary but I want one anyway.

Apologies for long post but it is good to be able to share my experiences, as I don't know anyone else in the same situation here.

How is your situation working out?


Thank you, John, for your reply. Having had a limited company and later on being self employed in the UK, I am well aware that the bookeeper I employed to do my accounts did it to the best of her knowledge but at the end of the day, it was my signature on the documents so ultimately, my responsibility. My accounts had the added complication of working for the Police and the NHS at the same time as running the business. Too many layers.

The reason I asked the question is because a few people saying that they had used the services of "X" and have been happy with them is a wonderful recommendation. Certainly not a cast iron guarantee for sure but better than a random stab with a pin in the 'phone book.

Your tale of woes certainly makes depressing reading but, you do your best and hope for the best.

Sorry you were confused with my statement. I only mentioned that I am married because that may well be useful for tax purposes. Mike is a male name, I am a gay man and married to my husband. Simple as that.



You are right-  If you move to Spain you are obliged to register on the EU Citizens Register, in effect immediately.   Even a formal job offer on company paper is sufficient to prove income and medical cover when applying. 

Such applications are successfully made every day at the police station where I have worked for 20 years.

That is what the instructions from central government say and what they say is relevant throughout Spain,  but as we know, not all people on the other side of the counter, even in Government offices, are always right !

Hi Tom,

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. What you have experienced sounds about normal from what I have heard.

We started off in Orba staying near friends. Everything seemed a bit easier and laid back there. We went to the town hall to get my NIE card and had a long chat with the staff member there. She was Spanish and spoke good English. She said that every department in Spain is pretty much isolated. They are aware that the paperwork they generate has an impact on the next stage of the process as much as the office that generated the stage before it got to her. However, the Government makes changes to rules in an ad hoc manner somewhere along the line every couple of months. Every office gets the updated notice for every other office - whether it be relevant to them or not. She said that she was 3 months behind in reading the updates for her own office so could not guarantee that what she was doing right now was correct, but to the best of her knowledge, it was. Her knowledge potentially being 3 months out of date.

She was 3 months behind in her own office paperwork and she just laughed when we asked how far behind she was in the other offices she interfaced with. In a way, that calmed me down because it explained why there were so many variable answers to a single, straightforward question.

At our local branch of Sabadell in Orba, our staff member was incredibly helpful. The amount needed to open an account varied every time we asked someone but he just went ahead and did what he thought best on that day. Having now moved to Valencia, we went to our nearest branch of Sabadell and were shocked with the poor quality of customer "service" and would do basic transactions because they felt the account was "wrong" in some way. We are now looking to move to another branch. Same company but a massive difference in behaviour and rules.

So it seems that the basic rule seems to be that everyone is winging it, you just need someone with the confidence to make you feel that they actually know what they are doing, and then hope for the best.


Mike, in my experience it is common practice to move bank staff fairly regularly, so getting friendly with a member of staff may not be an advantage for very long.