Renewing Your Autonómo (Cuenta Propia) Work Permit in Spain

This is the follow-up article to the widely read and very popular blog post, Student Visa Modification Timeline: How to become a freelancer in Spain. If you are looking to complete that first step towards gaining residency in Spain after teaching through the Auxiliar de Conversación Program or through a Master’s Program, I recommend you check out that post first before diving into this one. Through sharing my story, I’ve helped dozens of people achieve their goals of obtaining residency in Spain and others have chimed in on the post in the comment section with helpful and insightful questions. It’s well worth a read and if you have gone through the process or have any tips I may have missed, please add them in the comment section of that article.

To recap, I completed the modificación de la situación de estancia por estudios a la situación de la residencia por cuenta propia inicial back in July 2017 and was granted a temporary work permit to start my freelance translation, copywriting and ESL private class service based business in Madrid. The Foreigner’s Office (Extranjería) took a little over two months to respond to my application and in October 2017, I was granted a one-year work permit as a freelancer.

Over a year has flown by since that exciting yet very stressful time and now I’ve already gone through the first renewal (primera renovación) when I renewed it back in January 2019.

If you’ve stumbled your way onto this page, I can almost bet that you’re wondering where the first year as a real Spanish resident went and how could it possibly be time to submit your renewal application this soon? Didn’t you just receive a letter saying you’re no longer a student or an auxiliar and can officially not just live but also work in sunny Spain?

Well, just as you had to learn how to renew your student TIE (tarjeta de identidad de extranjero) after your first year in Spain, you have to learn how to renew your cuenta propia work permit, which is slightly more important than your student card. After all, if you renew it this time and then another time after that, you can qualify for the long-term residency card (tarjeta de residencia de larga duración).

If you’ve made it this far, I’m here to remind you that you definitely have what it takes to stay here for the long haul and for a variety of different reasons, if that is your end goal. However, you need to make sure that stays a reality by renewing your Spanish residency card correctly and in the legally allotted amount of time.

That’s where I come in with this step-by-step guided post on how to complete the primera renovación de la autorización de residencia temporal y trabajo por cuenta propia. Since it is a permit authorizing you to work, you will need to renew it after the first year and then again in two years. After that you can apply for the long-term residency card (and apply the 1.5 years -for 3 student years-of residency that the Extranjería credited to you after doing the modification process.)

I’m sure you’re not thinking about your second renewal just yet so let’s get this first one out of the way.

Ready to get started?

Requirements for Renewing the Autónomo Work Permit

If you remember from renewing your student card, these types of visas are for no comunitarios (members of non-EU countries) which allow people from countries outside the EU to apply for student stay or various residency and work permits.

Here’s what’s required for a freelancer who’s already running their business here in Spain:

  • You cannot be a citizen of the EU or a spouse (family member) of an EU citizen.
  • You cannot have any criminal charges pending or a criminal record in Spain.
  • You cannot be on the No Entry List to Spain (or banned from entry).
  • If you have children, you must show proof of accreditation in a school system (escolarización) if they are of legal age to attend.
  • You will be required to pay any and all fees associated with your application.
  • You must fulfill and show proof of one of three of the following obligations in regards to your working status:
    • Continuing the economic activities you signed up for
    • Having your partner (and certificate of marriage or stable relationship) show enough economic solvency to support you
    • Possessing a comprehensive insurance policy that covers you and your income (meaning you are out of work or physically unable to work but 100% covered)

Documents to Gather

  • A printed and signed copy of the Modelo EX–07 with your personal information, NIE and current address (where you will definitely be able to receive notifications of the application status in the mail)
  • Photocopies (or digital scans) of all stamped and blank pages of your passport. (This is to prove to Extranjería that you were in Spain at least a minimum of 6 of the 12 months you were granted to hold this residency permit.)
  • A copy of your annual tax return, la declaración de la Renta (IRPF) or a copy of each of your quarterly tax statements for the time you’ve been a registered freelancer (Modelo 303 -for IVA- and/or Modelo 130).
  • If your spouse or partner (pareja de hecho) can vouch for you and support you financially, you will need to submit a marriage or parjea de hecho certificate along with official (or certified) copies of your partner’s bank statements proving they have the economic means to fully support both of you (monthly income amount is subject to 150% of the IPREM, and you can verify it for a specific year here.)
  • A copy of the insurance policy covering your regular salary in your cesación del trabajo (essentially taking a leave for medical reasons)
  • Model 790 Código 052, epígrafe 2.1, which is a fee that covers the cost to process the renewal of your residency. Cost: 16,08€ (May 2019)
  • Modelo 790 Código 062, epígrafe 2.2, which is a fee that covers the cost of your work permit for the next two years. Cost: 79,93€ (May 2019). Think of it as about 40€/year. Not bad, right?

Total cost: 96,01€

Where and When to Submit Your Documents

If you remember the other time when you made an appointment and submitted the paperwork for your modificación with bated breath, well, this time you can relax (a little).

To renew your autónomo work permit (and all subsequent renewals), all you have to do is go to the nearest Registro Civil (this list is for Madrid but it includes links to all the other provinces around Spain) without an appointment (yay!) with all your paperwork and signed application form. You will take a number and wait to be seen by the next available funcionario (government worker) who will then create a digital file for you in their system and scan and save all your paperwork into it. The worker will then send it to the local Extranjería, print off a white sticker with your número de expediente and officially handing you a place in line.

What is the timeline to turn in your application? The Extranjería only allows you to submit your paperwork 60 natural days before your residency card expires or up to 90 natural days after the expiration date.

IMPORTANT: Un día natural means a regular day, not to be confused with día hábil (business day), so it includes weekends and holidays.

Regardless, you cannot turn the application in a day too early or a day too late. Many people have been denied the chance to renew and have found this out the hard way. I’m just giving you a friendly reminder to keep track of the application deadlines that are specific to your card.

Pro-tip: If your card expires after the 31st of a month (ie: October 31st like mine did) and there are a couple of months within that 90-day time frame that have 31 days, your final day to submit your paperwork will not be January 31st. An extra day or two within that time period will result in you having to turn it in sooner rather than later. Double or triple check the last day you have to submit paperwork because you will be denied renewal if you submit it even just one day outside of the allotted time.

How Long is the Estimated Wait Time?


That is the question on everyone’s mind when it comes to dealing with Spanish bureaucracy, isn’t it?

This is probably the longest and most frustrating part of any type of initial residency application or renewal. And it’s also the most ambiguous. It could take just a few weeks or up to six months to hear an answer from the Extranjería.

The good (yet nerve-wracking) thing is that you can check your status online through this portal and track the status of your application and see when they look it. All you need to do is enter your NIE (número de identificación de extranjero), the date you submitted the paperwork and your birth year.

I wouldn’t suggest checking it every day but about once every 1-2 weeks would suffice.

How Long Did I Have to Wait?

So, in my case, I submitted my paperwork on January 28th to a registry office (García Paredes) here in the North of Madrid where I currently live. I didn’t have to make an appointment but I did have to take a number and wait in not-so-crowded waiting room for a short time. My number was called shortly after I sat down and a funcionaria with a straightforward way of doing things. She had me state which type of application I was doing, sign the first page of the application, confirmed that I had all of the correct paperwork to submit and began scanning all of my documents into the system and forwarded my file on to the Extranjería.

It took about five minutes and then I was finished.

Another application behind me…

But then, the clock started and I was waiting to hear an answer for weeks.

Two months passed and around March 28th, I was entered into the system as “En Trámite” or “Processing.” I was told that the office enters a batch of applications all at once and the two-month mark is usually the time in which they do that.

About three weeks go by and I’m slowly inching closer towards 90 days without receiving an answer. On the renewal form itself, you will see towards the end of it stating that if the Extranjería does not respond to your application in 90 days or less, your renewal will be given a positive yes and it will be approved through something called silencio administrativo (administrative silence).

Well, I didn’t check the status at the end of April and Spain and the Comunidad de Madrid had a couple of federal and regional holidays coming up (May 1st-3rd) so I was going to put off checking it again until the following Monday.

Besides, what were the chances of someone looking at my application a day or two before a puente (long weekend) anyway ?

Well, I was quite wrong!

My application was reviewed and my file was closed on April 29th, 2019.

Resuelto Favorable! One of my favorite things to read in Spanish.

The verdict?

Approved!

However, it was not from having someone go over my application the normal way. It was approved by the aforementioned rule of administrative silence. I had read on Facebook groups that it was hard to be approved this way and I hadn’t met anyone who personally had. Turns out, they didn’t have enough time to look over my application so I was renewed by default!

You Receive Your Letter…What’s Next?

After visiting the Immigration Office a couple times this summer, I won’t have to go back until 2020!

I think you might know the drill when it comes to this step.

If you live in Madrid, you’ll have to visit the ever so dreaded and slightly scary Police Station (the Brigada Provincial de Extranjería y Fronteras-otherwise known as Aluche, based on the name of the nearest metro station). If you’re in a different part of Spain, schedule an appointment and go to the local immigration center on that day with the following documents:

  • Valid passport
  • Carta de resolución
  • Signed copy of the Modelo Ex-17 (only print the first two pages)
  • Two ID sized photos for the card itself
  • Volante de empadronamiento (copy of your city registry needs to be less than 3 months old)
  • Copy of the Modelo 790 Código 012 tasa (fee) paid in full (18,92€)
  • Select the line that states:
    TIE que documenta la renovación de la autorización de residencia temporal o la prórroga de la estancia o de la autorización para trabajadores transfronterizos.

Q&A Section

Please read this section as it contains insider information that I learned from various contacts here in Madrid over the years spanning 2018-2019. (Subject to periodic updates)

Do you have to earn the minimum monthly wage in order to be approved to renew?

Thankfully views like this are priceless.

One of the most talked about things on Facebook group discussions and articles in both Spanish and English is the illusive regulation that a self-employed person must earn the minimum annual salary or else they will not be renewed.

Though I was approved via administrative silence, a contact of mine confirmed for me that during her first year on the autónomo work permit, she didn’t earn minimum wage each month but was renewed anyway…because she paid all of her quarterly taxes and never missed a month when it came to the Social Security contributions.

This is confirmed with this line stated in the law on the hoja informativa:

  • Continuar con la actividad que dio lugar a la autorización que se va a renovar, siempre que se hayan cumplido las obligaciones tributarias y de Seguridad Social.

Continuing with the economic activities they were granted in the first place and desiring to renew said permission, keeping in mind having fulfilled both tax and Social Security obligations.

Will you personally be renewing this permit for a second time?

As many of you may already know, I will be getting married this fall to a citizen of the European Union, which will legally make me a family member of an EU citizen. I’ll have to go a different route when it comes to renewing my residency in Spain (where we plan to stay for at least a couple more years) but until that happens, I will continue to publish helpful information on residency options on my website and offer advice. Like you could expect anything less from me!

Have you lived in Spain on this work permit before? Did you have any difficulty renewing it or have any tips that I missed for readers who might begin this process? Comment below and join the discussion!

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