Bureaucracy in Spain: The Struggle is Real

If you have a question about this topic, please Contact Us

7 lawyers Online Now

Are you looking to move to Spain or have you recently relocated to Spain? 

Spanish bureaucracy represents one of the biggest challenges for expats.

In this article, Pellicer & Heredia lists some of the most popular bureaucratic terms from A-Z, with the aim to introduce you to the Spanish system.

A: Agencia Tributaria – The Spanish Tax Office.

A: Autónomo –  The Spanish equivalent of self-employed or freelance, and also covers people operating (unincorporated) small businesses. Registering as an autónomo is essentially a two-step process: registering with the Tax Office (Agencia Tributaria) and joining the Social Security System (Régimen Especial de Trabajadores Autónomos RETA).

B: Cuenta Bancaria – Spanish for a bank account. As a general standard, to open a bank account you will need to have a valid ID. Most banks accept a valid Passport; others may also ask for the NIE (Foreign Identification Number). Foreign nationals can generally open bank accounts without an NIE, with the main difference being that the account will have the status of a non-resident, which is subject to certain fees. Rates vary depending on your specific situation.

C:  Cita Previa – The prior appointment. Many of Spain’s government departments ask you to make a ‘Cita Previa’ before you come into the office. These appointments can often be made online, by telephone or in-person at the office in question.

D: Declaración de la Renta – This is the yearly tax declaration. According to Spanish law, a person is considered a tax resident in Spain when you spend more than 183 days in the calendar year in Spain or the core of your economic activities lie in Spain. If you reside in Spain for less than 183 days in a calendar year (January 1 to December 31) and if you own properties located in Spain then you are considered a non-resident, who must declare the tax return. You must also pay the annual tax return as a non-resident if you have money deposited in a Spanish bank, or receive any income from business in Spain. The non-resident tax return also applies if you receive rental income from your property.

E: Empadronamiento – It is obligatory by Spanish law to register on the Padrón at the Town Hall, where you reside. By registering, you will be benefiting your community, because your local government receives funding, depending on how many are registered. Certain authorities will ask you to provide an updated ‘Certificado de Empadronamiento’ (within the last three months) as proof of address, ie. The Medical Centre, Tráfico, Social Services etc.

F: Residencia Fiscal – Residence for the purpose of taxation.

G: Gestor – A gestor can best be described as an administrator or an organiser. His main role is the interface between you and the public administration, providing business, tax and legal advice.

H: Homologación – This is the process of getting your foreign qualifications and results officially recognised in Spain.

I: IRPF – The IRPF (Impuesto sobre la Renta de Personas Físicas) is the closest thing Spain has to Income Tax.

L: Libro de Familia – A family book which includes details of births and marriages, and is issued by the Registro Civil (Civil Registry).

N: NIE – The law in Spain requires foreign nationals to obtain a NIE number (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros or Individual Tax number) for various transactions, such as: purchasing or selling a property, applying for a mortgage, buying a car, paying taxes etc.

N: Notary – A notary is an independent public legal professional person (qualified under Spanish law with a law degree) that “certifies” private agreements in accordance with Spanish Law. These public officials can draft, witness and certify the signing of all sorts of contracts in Spain, ensuring that both parties understand the terms.

P: Padrón – The Register of Spanish Inhabitants at the Town Hall.

R: Reta – RETA (Régimen Especial de los Trabajadores Autónomos) is the Social Security’s Scheme under which Spain’s freelance workers and autonomos are registered.

S: Seguridad Social – When you start working in Spain you will need a social security number.  If you are employed your employer can arrange this for you. Should this not be your case, you can apply in person at the nearest INSS office. This number will also entitle you to Spanish Health Care and in communications with the Agencia Tributaria.

T: Tarjeta sanitaria – This health care card allows you to access Spain’s Health Care system and is issued by your local Medical Centre.

T: Traductor Jurado – A traductor jurado is a certified translator. Spanish authorities will always ask for your documents to be translated with an official translator.

Related videos

Information search

If you have a friend or know someone who may be interested in this topic, you can share or send this text using these buttons:

Need more info? We are here to help