How to stop being an autónomo (freelancer) in Spain

So you have been working as an autónomo in Spain. However now you have decided that you do not want to officially be a freelancer any longer. What can you do?

The process to become a freelancer is somewhat obscure and harder to figure out. Fortunately, the process to undo what you did before is much simpler; unlike when you registered (which you most likely did in person), you can do everything online for deregistration. To do this, you need to have a certificado digital (digital certificate) to access the Sede Electronica. This is the online portal that government departments in Spain use. If you would like to do everything in person, you may skip the next paragraph.

What is the Certificado Digital?

It’s a certificate issued by the Real Casa de la Moneda (Royal Mint of Spain, as in where the money is made) but you can request it online. It requires the use of certain browsers (at this point in time, either Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox), special configuration of said browers, and a request for a certificado digital which can be done using your name, email address and NIE here (click the second option using Firefox or Internet Explorer and then fill in the information). This will then send a code to your email address. With this code, your passport and your NIE (you don’t need copies), you need to authenticate your identity in person at one of these offices (use the locator in the link and search for offices where you obtain information about ‘personas fisicas’ or ‘personas fisicas y representates’), which takes less than 5 minutes.

Once authenticated, you’ll get a second email with a download link for the certificado digital. You must download it within (approximately) the following hour of receiving the code; it can only be installed on one device; the device which you used to request the certificate in the first place is the one you should use. Sometimes the certificate won’t work on any other device as there is a certificate was installed when you requested the certificado digital. Installing the certificate on any other devices will invalidate the certificate – you will need to request another one.

You also cannot have two certificates active at the same time as requesting a second one will invalidate the first. This is also true if you request the certificate on your mobile device after installing it on your computer. If you want to be able to access the information on multiple devices, you need to go through the export process for security certificates of your browser and import it into the browser on other device.

Warning: incorrect exporting/importing will invalidate the certificate and you will have to do this process yet again.

How do I deregister?

In a nutshell, the process for deregistration is as follows:

  1. you need to ‘baja en RETA’ with the Seguridad Social
  2. you need to fill in Modelo 036/037 with the Agencia Tributaria (Hacienda).

Let’s start with the Hacienda.

Go to the Hacienda’s website, click on ‘mis expedientes’ and choose to access the area with your certificado digital. If you have any problems, it is most likely because there is a problem with your certificado digital. In the error message that pops up, a link to chat with technical support will also appear. If you accessed the website but it says that your NIF/NIE is not registered, you are not in the system (a good way to check to see if you are still there after you finish as well).

Once you access the area successfully, you will then see a welcome page/dashboard with a search bar at the top. In this search bar, type in ‘modelo 036’ or ‘modelo 037’ (037 is the simplified version of 036) and you will be able to fill it in online. The full name is: ‘Modelos 036 y 037. Censo de empresarios, profesionales y retenedores – Declaración censal de alta, modificación y baja y declaración censal simplificada.’

Click on your version of the form (either 036 or 037) by choosing the option ‘Cumplimentación y presentación telemática 03#’ (completion and presentation online of 03# where # is either 6 or 7). You want to fill out the ‘baja’ part, which is at the bottom of the form. Tick the box saying ‘baja’, give a reason in the next box, and sign the form. Back at the top of the form on the right-hand side, there is a button ‘enviar’ (send). Do this and you will review the information. Continue until the end and then send it to the Hacienda Tributaria.

Alternatively, you can go to the nearest Hacienda office, take a number and wait a few hours, or schedule an appointment with them through their website where they will walk you through the same process.

Baja en RETA

2) For the ‘baja en RETA’, go to the Seguridad Social’s website, under citizens (cuidadanos) and then afiliación e inscripción. Here you will find an option that says ‘baja en RETA’. Click on it, choose to access using the certificado digital, and continue to the form.

If you successfully accessed the portal but got the error that the NIF/NIE associated could not be found in the RETA, your information is not in their system and so you may never have been registered with them (this is also a good way to check that you have been deregistered). If you were unable to access the portal, please check your certificado digital

Rather than write how to fill in the form here, please look at the document that I received below. As of April 2018, this document was mostly correct. I have written in a few notes specifically for foreign language teachers who are autonomos (meaning you are working without a contract).

Although I have written in the codes that you will need (which took some searching on my part). This document is in Spanish (sorry non-Spanish speakers) and runs through the entire form (which is also only in Spanish, as are most things). If you are not a foreign language teacher, you will need to work out the code for yourself. For now, the code for freelancer teachers of foreign languages is P682 (also in a note in the document. The ‘P’ stands for professional and 628 is the category that foreign language teaching autonomos fall under). If this code does not work, try 8559, which is another code that refers to freelance language teaching.

This is the original document in Spanish (the translation is the next document):

Guia de llegar a ser autonomo

This is my English translation of the above document:

Guia de llegar a ser autonomo – English

All done!

At this point, you will be unregistered with both the Seguridad Social and the Hacienda, both of which should have shown a confirmation page at the end of the process. I also received a text message (SMS) from the Seguridad Social within a few days saying that the deregistration was successful.

That’s it, you have deregistered with the Spanish government! Good luck with the next steps of your life and let me know if you have any suggestions for this guide. I try to keep it up-to-date, but it is hard as you can only deregister once without having to re-register first (which I am not doing). Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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2 responses to “How to stop being an autónomo (freelancer) in Spain”

  1. What did your text message say to verify it in Spanish?

    1. To be honest I do not remember the exact text that was used in the message but it was from an official number from the Seguridad Social. I believe it was the same one that would send me confirmation codes so I knew I could trust it.

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