After 27 years in Andalusia offering rural Spanish real estate we can help with practical advice learnt from experience.
The following are some of the more common questions we get from clients. Of course, feel free to contact us with your queries.
Purchasing A Property - How Do I Arrange A Visit?
We do not arrange inspection trips. There are plenty of good hotels, Bed & Breakfast, small hostals and self-catering properties inland Andalucia. Car hire can be obtained at Malaga and Granada airports.
All our viewings are strictly accompanied on appointment basis by a member of our bi-lingual team who will not apply any hard sell or pressure.
The hardest part is locating your property and on your viewing day we ensure that you see properties fitting your requirements and budget.
Once you have decided on a property the next step is a reservation deposit and we suggest that you bring 1.000 euros to reserve your property and it will then be taken off the market. You will need to appoint an English speaking lawyer (we can recommend a number), who will act independently on your behalf, to carry out the searches and draw up the purchase/sales contract.
The balance of the 10% deposit must be immediately transferred to your lawyer on return to your country, in readiness for the signing of the compraventa (purchase/sales contract). Completion is normally 4-6 weeks following the signing of the private contract, and we usually find the easiest way is for you to appoint a Power of Attorney to sign on your behalf at the Notary's office.
Once completion has taken place the 7% transfer tax must be lodged by your lawyer at the Junta de Andalucia within 30 days, and then the escritura (Title Deed) is taken to the Registro de la Propiedad (Land Registry) for registering and inscription into your name, this will take approximately 1-2 months.
What Are The Costs Involved? What Else Do I Need To Do?
You should allow 11% on top of the purchase price of the property to cover all costs. 7% is payable as the transfer tax to the Junta de Andalucia, and the balance is made up of notary fees, registration of the new title deeds, and lawyers fees.
Allow extra for a calor gas contract, installation of a telephone and re-connection of water and electricity should this be necessary. If you are having a mortgage the costs involved in setting this up must be calculated for.
You will need an N.I.E. number (Numero de Extranjero), which is obtained from a main police station with your passport and a photocopy along with two photos. There is a small charge for this. Your lawyer can do this for you, either with you personally or he can apply for this on your behalf with your Power of Attorney.
A bank account is also required and utility bills can be paid by direct debit after completion.
Now You Own Property - Do You Know Your Tax Obligations?
It is no longer obligatory to have a Fiscal representative but it is advisable. The tax year in Spain is from 1st January - 31st December and the following applies.
For tax purposes you are classed as a Resident if you spend more that 183 days a year in Spain and will have to pay tax "por obligacion personal" just like a Spaniard.
Tax authorities in one country will communicate with those in another unless that latter country does not have a double taxation treaty with the first.
LEGAL BODIES & OFFICES IN SPAIN
The Gestor is the middleman between you and the bureaucracy. They are licensed by the authorities as a professional body literally to deal with red tape. They do not have any official powers but do need to pass an exam.
ASESOR FISCAL (Fiscal Advisor or chartered accountant)
If you have made any investments in Spain and need to pay income tax or you are starting a business you should consult an Asesor fiscal. They will save you money and keep you on the right side of the ever-changing tax laws. You can also use them as your fiscal representative, if you are a non-resident property owner. It is no longer obligatory to name a representative, when you have one property but if you have more than one, you must name a legal representative.
Their mission is to make sure that certain matters are officially noted and registered such as wills, purchase agreements and various other sorts of contracts. The notario receives fees for these services, but you cannot instruct him/her to act for you in the same manner as your lawyer or account. These fees are fixed by law ranging from approximately 60 euros for a will to 300 euros for a property sales contract under 60,250 euros
ADMINISTRADOR DE FINCAS
This is a licensed professional who will do the administration of your property such as seeing the taxes are paid, managing rentals and presenting you at the owners meetings.
The Spanish equivalent to a UK registered solicitor.
I've Moved To Spain - Now What Do I Do?
By now you are already beginning to enjoy your new life in Spain and there are a number of things you must do.
A. Register at the local Ayuntamiento(Town Hall). You will need your passport, a copy and a copy of the Title Deeds to your property.
B. Register at the Centro del la Salud (Health Centre), again with a copy of your passport and any documentation you have from UK.
C. Register at the Insitituto Nacional del la Seguridad y Social (National Institute of Social Security). You will need a Certificado de Empadronamiento (Certificate of Registration in the Municipality) from the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall). If you are retired your documentation from the UK. You will not be able to register and claim for Social Security if you are not legally working or of pensionable age.
D. Make a Spanish Will. The Inheritance laws are different in Spain and you will need to make a will and your lawyer will do this for you for a reasonable cost.
E. Generally familiarize yourself with the area where you are now residing, i.e. hospitals, clinic, vets, bank, shops, schools etc.
F. On the question of past residencia requirements the rule change is simplified and modified for you to apply for a "Certificado de Registro" if you are intending to be in Spain for more than 3 months. This is applied for at the Comisaria de Policia main office of your district.
Driving & Vehicles - What Are The Regulations In Spain?
Motoring in Spain
You cannot purchase a car in Spain unless you have a Title Deed to a property or long term rental contract and an N.I.E NUMBER. It is strongly recommended that you use a reputable car dealership, as debts go with the car and not the person. The dealership will arrange with a local Gestor all the necessary documentation required on your behalf.
You must carry in your car reflector jackets and warning triangles bearing the symbol E9 or CODE 27-RO3, a fine of 90.135 euros is levied if not. You must also carry a spare tire and tools and if you wear glasses for driving a spare pair.
You must be over 18 years of age to drive and use seat belts both back and front at all times. Children under the age of 12 are not permitted to travel in the front unless in a suitable child seat. Spain has very strict drink driving laws and there are severe penalties and automatic bans now in process.
The pink and green driving licence is acceptable but if you only have the green one you must carry a Spanish translation or International Driving Licence, and insurance must be covered for third party. If you become a resident of Spain you will need to change your British license for a Spanish one. Non-residents can expect on the spot speeding fines.
If you bring over your British plated car to Spain it is only allowed to remain on British plates for 6 months and then you must change over to Spanish plates. If you permanently export your car from UK you must surrender your registration documents to the DVLA and obtain a certificate of export to present to the Spanish authorities.
Road worthiness certificates for right hand drive vehicles are now generally available from the ITV (MOT) centers although headlights may need to be adjusted to comply with EU regulations.
In order to prevent fraud in the sale of vehicles, all consumers who have acquired goods via organized groups specializing in VAT are obliged to pay VAT under the new legislation. Likewise the Special Tax on Certain Means of Transport requires that a visa be issued before a second hand car is registered in order to verify the declared value, and prevent vehicles being registered at a lower value.
If you should have an accident most importantly STAY CALM. If the other person is aggressive call the police to assist. Make sure you note down the registration number of the other vehicle. This is VITAL as without it there is no way of tracing them. DO NOT assume that they will be honest and put the correct details on the form.
Even with the smallest of bumps make sure that you fill in the accident declaration form. NEVER simply leave the scene as this is a criminal offence.
Fill in the accident declaration form at the scene of the accident. If due to injuries this is not possible then get the reference number from the police. You fill your details on one side of the form and those of the third party on the other side.
Put in all details that you feel relevant and try to complete the form as much as possible. At the bottom there is a section to note damage to the vehicles, version of the events and a box to make a diagram of the accident.
If there are witnesses put their names and contact numbers on the form. NEVER sign the form if you disagree with what has been written or you do not know what it says. If you admit liability on the form then it is almost impossible to argue the case afterwards.
If possible take photos of the position of the vehicles and the damage, try to include the registration in the photos.
Your form should be sent to your insurance company as soon as possible. A copy can be faxed or e-mailed but the original should be sent by post. It is also a good idea to write a description of the accident on a separate sheet of paper.
NEVER alter the accident declaration form once it has been completed as this could invalidate your claim. Most insurance policies include a 24-hour assistance number. Contact this number if you need a tow truck, transport home or substitute vehicle. DO NOT call your own tow truck, you must use the service provided by the insurance company. Contact your insurance agent or company as soon as possible and they will explain how the claim will proceed.
The Spanish School System - Infants To University
The advantage for children going into the Spanish school system is that they will learn the language and culture fast. A copy of the child's' birth certificate (long version) and proof of domicile from the Town Hall is required and one of the parents must be legally registered in Spain. Children between the ages of 6-16 may attend Spanish State School free, although you may have to purchase books. Most schools provide hot lunches for a minimal cost.
Educacion Infantil (Infant Education)
Generally well taught and lasts for 3 years and is available in most towns, even some of the smaller ones.
Educacion Primaria (Primary Education)
From the age of 6 years and lasts for 6 years. It is divided into 3 cycles and classes are usually of mixed ability. In year 3 exams are introduced.
Educacion Secundaria (Secondary Education)
At 12 children start Secondary school, similar to to UK comprehensive with mixed ability groups. The first 4 years are compulsory and leaving age is 16, otherwise they can stay on and do a further 2 years "bachillerato" (academic).
Depending on the teaching faculty at the school French may be offered and music, art and PE are included in the EGB (Educacion General Basica), Religious instruction is optional.
If a child is coming straight into Secondary Education you must produce complete transcripts of his/her 2 previous academic years, replete with Foreign Office "Haya" stamp and translated into Spanish by a government approved translator.
Students planning to go to University must take entrance exams and this will be taken into account together with the results of "bachillerato"
Can I Bring My Pet? Taking Pets To Spain
The PET TRAVEL SCHEME (PETS) introduced on 28th February 2000 allows cats and dogs who have a Certificate of Origin and Good Health signed by a licensed veterinarian from the originating country of travel, to enter Spain and her islands, but not Ceuta or Meilla.
All dogs and cats must:
1. Be fitted with a microchip that meets ISO standards so that it can be read by a standard microchip reader.
2. Be vaccinated against rabies with an approved vaccine and have booster vaccinations as recommended. Pets must be at least 3 months old and have the chip before they can be vaccinated.
3. Be Blood tested about 30 days after vaccination. If the pet fails the test it must be vaccinated and tested again. A period of at least 6 months after a successful blood test result is required before being allowed entry or re-entry into the UK. (Unless your pet was resident in UK and microchipped, vaccinated and blood tested before February 28th 2000)
4. Documentation needed. Certain countries including Spain require an EXPORT HEALTH CERTIFICATE issued in the UK to allow your pet to enter the country. It is different from the PETS scheme and your pet may be refused entry if you do not have the certificate.
Use a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs E.F.R.A) approved pet transporter/shipper. They will arrange for all the necessary paperwork and a passport will be issued for your pet. An ordinary book of vaccinations is not sufficient. You will need to buy an airline approved carrier if your pet is traveling to Spain by air.
Pets should NOT be tranquilized before travel unless your vet advises otherwise.
If you are traveling by car you must have a screen between dog and driver. Small dogs and cats should stay in a cage. Provide fresh water and stop every 2 hrs. If you decide to go to Morocco leave your pet in a kennel as the return procedure is very complicated.
Animals are remarkably adaptable to climate change and will soon get to love the weather in Andalucia just like us humans do.
Common Taxes - For Non-Residents
Impuesto Sobre Transmisiones Patrimoniales (Transfer Tax)
A transfer tax of 7% is payable on all property unless you buy from a promoter when the tax will be IMPUESTOS SOBRE EL VALOR ANAIDO (IVA) (VAT) instead at 7%. Land is taxed at 16%.
Impuesto Sobre La Renta De Las Personas Fisicas (Income Tax)
Non-residents must still make an annual declaration derived from activities in Spain not worldwide. A typical example is interest on money you have on deposit with a Spanish bank or income from letting your property(properties).
As this income is part of a worldwide income it will be declared to the British tax authorities but double taxation relief does not exist as a result of treaty between 2 countries. This tax is declared between 1st May - 20th June.
Impuesto Sobre Patrimonio (Wealth Tax)
Non-Residents must show the value of all assets located in Spain. Normally the persons' house, car and balance in bank account. The value to be used when declaring the house is the official catastral value and the amount of bank balance is taken as the average cleared balance over previous years.
This information is supplied by you bank and the tax is payable between 1st May- 20th June.
Impuesto Sobre Bienes Inmuebles (Previously known as Contribucion Territorial Urbana)
This is the main local property tax affecting property owners and the amount is calculated by referring to the "Valor Catastral" (official value of property) registered in respect of all property in Spain,.
The % of that valor catastral charged as tax varies from area to area and is payable between September 1st - 31st October at either the Ayuntamiento(Town Hall) or via your bank. There are fines levied for late payment.
Impuesto Muncipal Sobre El Incremento De Valor De Los Terrenos (Plus Valia)
This is a local tax rather than a National one and as a result in some areas of Spain it is simply not charged. The amount to be paid is worked out on the theoretical increase in value of land you are buying since the date it was last disposed of and is normally paid by the seller.
If you are purchasing from a non-resident the retained 3% must be lodged with the Hacienda within 30 days of the transaction on account of the vendors' capital gain. At present the tax is 18% on the profit the vendor has made.
This is normally paid by the lawyer handling the conveyancing. As there is a disparity between Non-Residents and Residents the EU have obliged Spain to regulate this, and by 2007 should then be 18% for both. This now applies.
If you are resident you have the same fiscal obligations as a Spaniard and Income Tax is payable in January.
These taxes are only guide and you are advised to contact a specialist for professional advice.
Health Care - Equal To Any In Europe
The Spanish health care system is excellent. The National Health System provides free or low cost health care for those contributing to the Spanish Social Security System and their dependents. The system also caters for pensioners and includes those from other EU COUNTRIES. If you are not contributing to the Social Security you will need Private Medical Insurance.
The medical care provided in Spain equals any available in Europe, and the Spanish are among the worlds' healthiest people, with a life expectancy for women of 80 and men 74. The incidence of heart disease in Spain is among the lowest in the world, a fact attributed to the Mediterranean Diet.
There are many English speaking medical staff but these will be found mainly in tourist areas and inland will be limited.
It has been noted that rheumatism and arthritis sufferers frequently note a huge improvement in their conditions and mobility after moving to Spain, and people with stress often note a marked improvement as the pace of life is slower than many European countries, and the climate and lifestyle generally makes people healthier.
Dental care is excellent with a number of American and Scandinavian dentists having practices on the coast.
HUNTING, SHOOTING & FISHING
Spain has some 35 million hectares of hunting land including national parks, hunting reserves and preserves as well as numerous private game reserves. The hunting season for game is strictly controlled and there are large fines for anyone caught hunting out of season. The season for small game runs from mid-October to early February and such birds as quail, red-legged partridge, pheasant, duck, geese, bustard and pigeon are included in this category, along with hare and rabbit.
There are several kinds of hunting land, ranging from free zones-where only a general license is necessary-to the municipal-owned local, private and national reserves, where a special license is required. To hunt in a national reserve you need a hunting permit, issued by the provincial or regional office of the Ministry of the Environment (Ministerio de Medio Ambiente). Special permission is also required to hunt in a private reserve and white halves. Where hunting is prohibited it is usually denoted by a square sign divided diagonally into black and white halves.
Hunters need a medical certificate obtainable from special clinics, firearms permit and third party insurance. Guns must be broken and bagged when transported on public land and they may not be used within 500 m of a house or in any urban zone.
Non-residents may import their own firearms although they must obtain an import certificate from their local Spanish consulate abroad. Take your current firearms certificate to the consulates with a photocopy and your passport. On arrival in Spain the import certificate and gun must be taken to the local police station who will issue a Spanish gun permit. For more information contact the Federacion Espanola de Caza in Madrid on 91 553 9017 www.fecaza.com
In Andalusia as in any other region of Spain it is required to have a license to fish in the sea,in the rivers and lakes. To get a license for any fishing activity contact the Junta de Andalusia, Conserjeria de Agricultura y Pesca for sea fishing and the Junta de Andalusia Conserjeria de Medio Ambiente for a license for rivers, lakes on land. However there are some areas protected where you cannot fish.