Spanish Legal Dictionary

A little list of key Spanish legal terms, with a simple translation in English:

Abogado – Lawyer. That’s an easy one which most people know already.

Acta – A document signed before a Notary when adding a property to the land register.

Agrupacion – The process of combining various plots of land.

Arras – Deposit (commonly appears in a rental agreement so check whether it is returnable or not).

Boletin de enganche – Certificate provided by an electrician who has the necessary Spanish qualifications. This certificate is a precondition for getting access to electrical power, and is essential when purchasing off-plan.

Certificado final de Obra – Official certificate from an Architect confirming the building work has been completed.

Colegio oficial de Arquitectos – Professional body which governs the conduct of architects.

Communidad de Propietarios – Community of owners in an urbanization, similar in some ways to a Management Company in the UK.

Contrato de arrendamiento – Rental contract.

Contrato de opcion – A contractual option that may be exercised at a future date.

Copropietarios – Co-owners.

Declaracion de obra nueva – A deed signed before a Notary confirming the construction of new buildings. This may need to be done where an Escritura is out of date.

Embargo – Seizure or legal charge. Important to check whether land or property has an embargo registered against it.

Escritura de Compraventa – A certificate of purchase issued by a Notary.

Fianza – Security bond or deposit – once again important to check whether this is returnable or not.

Finca – Plot of land, either with or without buildings.

Hacienda publica – Tax office

Hipoteca – Mortgage.

I.B.I – Local real estate tax, often incorrectly referred to as the Suma tax.

Impuesto de actos juridicos documentados – Stamp duty.

Impuesto de transmisiones patrimoniales – Transfer tax (currently 7% subject to certain exceptions) of the amount declared in the escritura.

Impuesto sobre el patrimonio – Wealth tax.

Impuesto sobre sucesiones y donaciones – Death duty and inheritance tax.

Impuestos municipales – Municipal or local taxes.

IVA (Impuesto Sobre el Valor Anadido) – Value added tax which varies according to the service provided or goods sold.

Licencia de obras – Permission to commence building – essential when purchasing off-plan.

Memoria de Calidades – Detailed building specifications.

NIE (Numero Personal de Indentificacion de Extranjero) – Similar in some ways to a National Insurance number in the UK. Essentially a tax identification number for foreigners.

Nota Simple Informativa – Land registry entry showing ownership and charges. A copy of an Escritura is not proof of current ownership.

Parcela – Plot of land.

Permiso de obra menor – Permission for small construction works.

Plan parcial – Partial development plan of a community or urbanisation.

Planta – Floor (i.e. in an apartment building).

Plus valia – A local tax calculated with reference to the increase in a property’s catastral value. Usually paid by the vendor.

Procurador – Similar in some ways to a barrister in the UK although without the silly headgear. The Procurador ensures that the court formalities are complied with, but takes a back seat role during the court hearing.

Propietario – Owner of property or possession.

Registro de la propiedad – Land registry (divided into many different sub registries).

S.A. (Sociedad Anonima) – Public limited company.

S.L. (Sociedad Limitada) – Private limited company.

Separacion a linderos – Minimum distance between neighbouring properties.

Servidumbre de transito – To use the old English term ‘Easment’ – Right of way/access rights.

Solar – Plot.

Suelo no urbanizable – Land protected from building.

Suelo urbanizable – Land that can be built on.

Suelo urbano – Urban or built up land.

Topografo – Land Surveyor

Traspaso – transfer of rental or lease contracts – commonly in respect of an established business. Care needs to be taken to ensure that the purchaser is not simply paying a large sum to take on a new lease.

Valor catastral – value of property as determined by the Catastro office.

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