One of the obligations you are required to fulfill as a self-employed person in Spain is to pay monthly ‘autonomo’ or social security fee. Since late payment carries interest and charges, what are some things you need to know to ensure that you will not miss a payment?
Your autonomo fee is charged in your bank account at the end of the month, normally on the last day, but sometimes you will see it in your bank statement a few days into the new month, though this is not the general case.
Ensure that you have sufficient funds in the account to cover your autonomo fee because if you fail to make the payments the fee for that month will not be re-sent to your bank account by the Social Security office.
In the situation mentioned earlier of failing to pay on time, you will have to obtain a pay-slip from the Social Security Office whereby you will be able to pay the outstanding amount directly at any bank. This pay-slip is valid only during the month in which it is issued.
When the fee is not paid during the corresponding month the debt increases with interests and charges:
a. 10% overcharge if it is paid during the following month.
b. 20% overcharge plus other small charges if it is paid in the consecutive months
Beware if you pay a reduced amount of autonomo due to new registration. If you miss a payment you will lose the reduction in that month. They will claim back the standard amount plus the applicable charges mentioned above.
Social Security will not pass the charge to the bank account for the same month a second time. A pay-slip needs to be obtained to make the payment of any standing amount.
Changing your bank account
If you need to change the account on which the autonomo fee is charged, you need to report to the Social Security. This would be a time to monitor your payment for a while to make sure that no payment is missing. The Social Security office sends massive orders to banks to collect their fees well before the end of the month. If you reported the change after the submission of that order you will still pay the autonomo from the old account. In our experience, it can take two months until you see the charge in the new account.
Never close a bank account without making sure that the whole process is completed and it works well.
Thinking of signing-off?
As a final note:
Stopping the payments or canceling the standing order at your bank is not considered as signing off autonomo.
We know of some people that decided to stop trading, or even left Spain, without previous notice to the Social Security and some time later, even after some years, the system had them recorded as owing a big debt. In some cases, there are things that can be done to rectify this. But not always. There are basically three different responses to the Social Security’s request for payment at your bank. You pay it, you let it return, or (and this is what creates the problem) you let it go and cancel the direct debit. In some cases, this has been done by the bank without the specific order of the client. Then, months later you uncover the debt. Just a positive note: During all this time that you are registered, whether you pay or not, you have medical care rights and this time counts as working time for your pension calculations.
In conclusion, in order to avoid problems, our recommendation is:
Monitor your payments each month and make sure that you provide an address where you get the post.