If you want to start working for yourself, one of the first things you have to do is register for the Special Regime for Self-Employed. Also known as RETA, this regulates social security registration for the self-employed in Spain. If you want to know more about how this system works, we will explain it to you in more depth.

Who has to register with the RETA?

In general, all people over 18 years old who provide a habitual, personal, direct economic activity against payment, not subject to a contract with a company.

Any spouses and family members up to the third degree who assist you habitually, personally and directly must also be registered with the RETA, unless they have been taken on as employees. They are known as family associates.

The scheme also includes writers of books, economically dependent self-employed workers, any professional people carrying on their own business requiring membership of a professional body included in the RETA, the industrial partners of ordinary collective companies and joint-stock partnerships, working partners of associated employment cooperatives, and partners in joint ownership schemes and civil companies.

What does the RETA system offer the self-employed?

On this scheme, the social security system provides you with several items of coverage in your self-employed status, some of which are mandatory and others optional:


  • Temporary incapacity due to common contingencies: to be covered in situations in which you cannot carry out your activity, either due to a common illness or an accident unrelated to work. You must make this option official with a mutual insurance company for occupational accidents and professional illnesses associated with the social security system when you register with the RETA.


  • Workplace accidents.
  • Professional illnesses.
  • Due to cessation of activities, known as self-employed unemployment.
  • Due to risks during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

What is the monthly instalment payable by the self-employed?

The monthly amount payable will depend on the coverage and the contribution basis you choose. Since you will not have a fixed salary as a self-employed person, the social security system requires a reference salary to calculate your contribution. The contribution basis is none other than the "theoretical salary" you give yourself as a self-employed person.

The government establishes a minimum contribution (EUR 919.80 in 2018) and a maximum contribution (EUR 3,751.20). You must choose a basis between these two amounts, which will also depend on certain circumstances, such as your age or your professional business, which you can examine in depth in the information section provided by the social security system concerning contribution bases and rates applicable in the Special Regime for Self-Employed.

The amount will be calculated by applying the contribution rate (i.e. the percentage determined by the government for the self-employed) to the contribution basis you have chosen. For example, if you choose the minimum basis, including temporary incapacity and coverage during pregnancy and breastfeeding, your self-employed charge would be 29.90% of EUR 919.80, i.e. EUR 275. If your contribution basis is EUR 1,500 per month, the amount you have to pay will be EUR 448.5.

However, this basis is not eternal, and you can change it as often as four times during the year, as stipulated in the new Law on Urgent Reforms for the Self-Employed, approved in late 2017. Another new feature introduced by this law is that, on the first three occasions during the year on which you register for the RETA, the amounts will be paid in accordance with the actual days during which you have been registered, instead of paying the full amount for the month.

Also, remember that if you register for the first time with the RETA, you are eligible for what is known as the flat rate. This also applies if you have not been paying into the scheme for the last two years, or three, if you have already been given this allowance. These are the amounts you will have to pay:

  • First 12 months: EUR 50 if you are on the minimum rate, or get an allowance of up to 80% if you are on a higher rate.
  • Months 12 to 18: 50% reduction on the amount during the second half of the year.
  • Months 18 to 24: 30% reduction on the amount during the next half.

Women under 35 and men under 30 are also entitled to a reduction on the amount for common contingencies over the 12 months following termination of the flat rate, equivalent to the 30% arising from applying the minimum rate (29.80%) to the minimum contribution basis on this scheme.

Where to register

You must go to the social security offices and fill in a form, the TA. 0521, a two-page document with seven sections.

Applicant's data: you must fill in your personal data: full name, address, social security number, mobile phone number and e-mail address etc.

Data concerning the application: you must select the reason why you are making the application (registration, deregistration or changes to data). You must also state the date on which you began/ceased or changed your economic activity. In another box, as the case may be, you may specify the reason for deregistering your company or changing its identificatory data, and in another box you must enter the ID of the new owner of your company (if any).

Data relating to professional business: here you must specify the economic activity you intend to carry on, the name of your company, the business activities tax (IAE) and the address of the business. Social security will give you the National Economic Activity Code (CNAE) when you submit the form. The last step here is to mark the box with an X, if your situation matches one of the following scenarios:

  • Woman returning to work after maternity leave.
  • Self-employed person and member of a professional college.
  • Street vending.
  • Notary.
  • Seasonal worker (you will state the phase of cessation of activity).

Options with respect to the contribution basis: in this section you must state the basis chosen (minimum, maximum or other), and the mutual insurance company associated with the social security system, to cover any of the risks you also choose in this section.

Your bank account details: finally, in section 7 of form TA. 0521 you can state the details of the bank account where you want to pay in the self-employment charge.

What documentation is required to register with the RETA?

In addition to form TA. 0521, duly filled in, you have to present both a copy and the original form demonstrating your registration for business activities tax, a photocopy of your ID card, your social security card (if you have previously been employed - otherwise, you must carry out this process simultaneously) and a document demonstrating affiliation to a mutual insurance company for accidents in the workplace, to be eligible for economic benefits in the event of temporary incapacity. You must also present your professional college certificate for professional activities.
And don't forget that, when you register with the tax authority, you have only 30 days to register with the social security system.

Starting out on any business or entrepreneurial adventure is complex. And sometimes you have to rely on financial institutions to make your dreams come true. We want to help by offering you facilities, from personal loans to debit cards, devised especially for the self-employed and SMEs. So if you're considering going into business, don't think twice, and take a look at our accounts for businesses.


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