What is a gestoría for freelancers? Managing money in Spain

James McKenna
Escrito por James McKenna
el 31 de diciembre, 2023

We’d all love to live in a world where we could simply get on with our work and not have to worry about filling in any forms, checking boxes, or submitting tax returns. The good news is — that world exists! The bad news is it’s called the black market and it’s inhabited by a lot of unsavory characters. 

But when business admin is so confusing, time-consuming, and painfully boring, there must be a better way. 

In Spain, the go-to option is a gestoría for freelancers. 

So, what’s a gestoría?

Gestoría is a catch-all term for companies that deal with the tax and financial side of their clients’ business. In practice, one or more gestores (agents) take care of the bookkeeping and behind-the-scenes admin on their client’s behalf. In short, they are the middleman between you and public institutions such as the tax and social security offices.

A gestoría frees up a bunch of time for solos and business leaders to do what they do best without having to worry about being compliant. If the concept is still hard to grasp, don’t worry — the role doesn’t exist in many countries. 

You might also come across the word asesoría, and unless you’re taking a Spanish language exam, you can take them to mean the same thing. As a general rule, an asesoría’s role will spread into less official tasks, such as looking into new premises for your business or finding you a cheap deal on your energy bills.

A gestoría in Spain is a lifesaver for companies of all sizes. The Spanish administrative system is known for its complexity and confusing elements and unless you’ve honed your own expertise, it’s rarely worth trying to juggle all your admin at the same time. This might seem strange if you’re from a country where you can be a freelancer with little outside help. But the fact that Spain has more gestores per company than any comparative country should tell you something about how necessary they are.

Once you’re set up as a freelancer, the advantages continue. When there are significant changes in the law, a gestoría will be the first to know about it, so get in touch with them and see how you can benefit. A recent example of this is the new self-employed work visa that the government launched to attract foreign talent to the country.

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What services does a gestoría for freelancers offer?

A lot of the processes for self-employed workers involve complex forms with convoluted language that is hard for Spanish natives, nevermind expat freelancers living in the country. New arrivals in Spain are at even more of a disadvantage having little to zero knowledge of the market and customs they are entering. 

A gestoría in Spain offers freelancers the following services: 

  • Registration with the relevant authorities
  • Meeting income tax, VAT, and social security obligations
  • Submitting expenses and qualifying for deductions
  • Arranging financial and legal services

Registration as a freelancer

Registering as a freelancer in Spain can be a minefield of bureaucracy, confusing forms, and, let’s face it, unhelpful civil servants. Anyone who has tried to go it alone will have a horror story about being sent from office to office, with success seemingly always a photocopied passport away. And if you don’t know the language, you can double all those worries.

More and more expats are understandably hiring the services of an English-speaking gestoría for freelancers to get it all done with no fuss. With years of experience, online gestorías like Xolo can register you as a freelancer in just one business day. All you need to contribute is your NIE and ten minutes of your time.

Income tax and VAT obligations

A real calling card of any gestoría for freelancers, you can take the stress out of your tax payments with an agent who knows their stuff. One of the real bugbears of the Spanish admin system is the endless amount of overly complex forms that drive many to madness at the end of every quarter. 

However, expats who hire an English-speaking gestoría in Spain can simply send off their invoices and through some form of black magic (or behind-the-scenes admin experts, but that’s not as interesting), everything is done and you can enjoy your weekend.

Social security payments

There was a time when social security payments were relatively easy once you’d signed up with the Tesorería General de la Seguridad Social (TGSS). It was a standing order payment that yeeted its way out of your account every month without any action on your part. 

But since 1 January 2023, the freelance quota has changed, just adding to the complications of being a freelancer in Spain. But that’s what gestorías are for. They can help you predict your future earnings based on historical records and set a smart level of payments that gets the best out of your situation.

Expenses and deductions

Budgeting is a massive part of any solo’s life, and identifying areas to save through deductions is so much easier with an experienced gestoría backing you up. All you’ve got to do is scan your receipts and send them to your gestor who will assess if they’re eligible or not. 

You can claim tax-deductible expenses on anything related to your business and save a considerable amount over a year. The best gestorías in Spain will reach out to you if they see any areas that you’re missing to put you in the strongest financial position possible.

Arranging financial and legal services

A gestoría should never be a passive role where you send your invoices into the abyss before a tax bill reappears shortly after. You can always ping your gestor a message to get advice on things like pensions, business insurance, and legal advice.

As experts in their field, gestores should know the market like the back of their hand, and can give solid guidance that is specific to your situation. 

Traditional vs. online gestorías in Spain

In all honesty, pitting traditional and online gestorías against each other isn’t a fair fight. Online platforms are more of an evolution of the in-person service that was previously the only option.

Yes, traditional gestorías had a personal touch. Perhaps you’re using the same agent as one of your parents once did, so they’ll meet you with a smile, welcome you in, and have a coffee prepared just how you like it. 

But frankly, that’s where the advantages end. 

When the whole point of a gestoría is to declutter your working life so you can concentrate on making money, spending time going to and from a physical office just to file your taxes is hardly a wise choice. What’s more, the personal touch disappeared shortly after the arrival of emails, so the one advantage was already quite tenuous. 

Online gestorías are so much more convenient for all parties involved. You don’t need vast office space for your folders, there’s no need to deliver invoices in person, and you don’t have to live in fear of a fire wiping out all your records. 

Why have online gestorías gained such popularity among freelancers?

As with so many aspects of the labor market, gestorías in Spain have seen a shift to a more fluid, dynamic format. The arrival of online-first gestorías has left many traditional companies having to transition but struggling to keep up. 

At the same time, freelance life has become even more attractive, especially among expats who want to work from Spain. Millennials and gen Z workers are digital natives and acutely aware whether or not they can cut themselves free from office life. With the world so interconnected, moving to Spain to work as a freelancer isn’t as isolating as it once was, so the only major obstacle is getting to grips with the legal and financial aspects.

So let’s take a better approach and look at the advantages that the online shift has brought:

Digitization of services

Who can honestly see the value in keeping endless paper files these days? With a zip file for every month, you can ping them to your accountant when you need to and have records of everything stored locally and in the cloud. But with the more advanced platforms, like Xolo, you can even track sent invoices and get notified when your message has been opened — all without lifting a finger. 

Powerful online platforms not only give solos convenience, they provide security and peace of mind that you simply can’t match with traditional businesses.

International opportunities

As the world has become more interconnected, top companies no longer have to stick to one city to find their staff. They can look all over the world from their talent, and many freelancers in Spain send most of their invoices to international clients. 

This means they’re often operating in different time zones, which isn’t ideal if José your accountant sticks to Spanish working hours. Online gestorías in Spain can have offices all over the world, keeping them online 24/7. With records of all your interactions within the system, you can contact an expert who knows about your case — just like an in-person accountant, ironically.

Freeing up time and headspace

Having clear records of what you’ve done and never having to go on a wild goose chase to deliver files gives you a lot of extra time to think. You might choose to use that time to squeeze in another project every month, or you could keep it free for yourself, for strategic thinking or to learn a new skill. 

What is clear is that with an online gestoría, you’re wasting less time on repetitive tasks that can be streamlined, and more time on what matters.

Cheaper than their traditional competitors

The very nature of doing everything electronically means that online gestorías can undercut their brick-and-mortar counterparts. 

What’s more, they often specialize in freelancers, and know that beginners can’t fork out a fortune on their admin. Smart solos have also noticed that savings don’t just come through the monthly price tag either. The convenience of an online service saves on gas, parking, and time that could be better spent focusing on actual work.

What to look for in an online gestoría for freelancers

If you’ve never taken the plunge and become a solopreneur before, one of the major blockers is simply not knowing where to start. So we’ve put together a few pointers to help you find the right gestoría to help you navigate life as a freelancer in Spain.

Strong online reviews

In the online world, independent review sites are the most reliable indicator of a good service. It is proof positive that people like you have used the service before and it has met their expectations. Simple. 

Easy to contact in your own language

When you’re under the pump, you need quick answers that you can understand without heading to Google Translate. Look for a service that not only offers phone and email support, but that has a bank of FAQs, guides, and video tutorials to make life easy.

An intuitive platform

The whole point of an online gestoría is convenience. You want a system that you don’t have to invest any time or brain power into using, so a well-designed interface is paramount. It doesn’t just look good — intuitive dashboards streamline your processes and stop files falling through the cracks

An all-in-one service

On the theme of convenience, services that offer freelance registration but no invoice tracking have an expiry date. Think about all the services you need and make sure your online gestoría checks all the boxes. 

Xolo: The gestoría revolutionizing life for freelancers in Spain

Congratulations. In less than ten minutes, you’ve gone from an absolute beginner to a sophisticated reference on gestorías for freelancers 🤓. Armed with what the market is offering and what you need for your business, you can confidently choose a service that works for you.

But if it’s not too presumptuous, we’d like to make the decision a little easier.

Xolo is a purpose-built service for freelancers to make their admin tasks more efficient and effective. Founded with a forward-thinking mindset in 2015, it is now home to 120,000 happy xolopreneurs from all over the world who have made a huge impact with one simple change. 

From Xolo’s user-friendly platform, our users:

🔥Manage invoicing and accounting like a pro

🔥Benefit from expenses and deductibles

 🔥Forecast your taxes every quarter

All of this saves you hours on admin every month — hours that you can use to invest in yourself.

So if you want to reap the benefits of a freelance life without the stress of the admin, get in touch with the experts at Xolo and we’ll show you how.

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About James

James McKenna has been a freelancer since 2017, working in subtitling, translation, and his main passion — writing. He loves nothing more than falling down a rabbit hole, a habit that has helped him specialize in areas as diverse as biotech, climate change, higher education, and business strategy.

Based in Barcelona, James learned the ropes the hard way, making mistakes that turned into valuable learning experiences. After working hard to establish himself, he is now working smart, and is always on the lookout for ways to streamline his business.