|A Brief Tourist Guide to anyone contemplating retiring to Peniscola, buying holiday property or working here etc.|
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1 Real Estate conveyancing, notary, land, valencian problem
2 Town Hall residence, empadronamiento, catastral, penalties,
3 Other Documents passports, birth certificates, registrar
4 Banking mortgages, direct debits, new accounts
5 Motors legal requirements, re-registering, tax, MOT,
6 Health & E111, E112 E111, private, local doctors, desplazados
7 Working -IVA (VAT) earning money, black economy
8 Schools preferences, differences
9 Post restrictions
10 Leisure boats, fishing, skiing, winter weather
11 Food & Drink Wine, Supermarkets etc
One feature of Spanish administration is the ambiguity of procedures. A process that has worked well in one department, can work in a different one. In other words, you can be given different versions of requirements by different persons. For example, an employee at the town hall said my father could not have a certificate of empadronamiento as he was not classed as a resident. Another more knowledgeable employee gave him the document he needed. In this case it was to buy a Spanish car, residency is not necessary but some form of permanence must be established, a certificate of empadronamiento is all that is necessary. This document shows NIE or NIF number, and your address in
N.B. All the information I give, is based on personal experience and actual procedures I have used, not something I have read from a Spanish publication.
1 Real Estate-Conveyancing
Property purchase differs in
a notary normally handles the preparation and execution of the ‘Escritora’ (deeds).
A solicitor can be used to oversee the transaction. The notary also calculates the taxes due and can deduct and pay them for you. The notary’s fees are based on price of property and are usually higher than solicitor’s accounts in the
Complicating the procedure, however, is the habit of under declaring the value of the property to save on taxes due on sale. This can cause problems when seeking a mortgage; you may have a shortfall to find, as the bank will only lend a percentage of the price declared. Non residents normally receive a reduced percentage
In Spain when one buys a property; one automatically becomes responsible for any debts outstanding. These can include-
Outstanding `catastral’ (equates to tax on rateable value of property) this is payable to the Ayuntamiento (town hall).
Outstanding Urbanización contributions (can be several years)
Any second charges or mortgages taken out on property. This information is available via the land registry.
Outstanding utility bills.
Any outstanding bills for repairs, work etc.
Outstanding, overdue payments, especially to the town hall, incur stiff penalties.
When buying land especially with a view to build a property, beware of the following possibilities.
Is there a building already? ( permission is normally given to update an existing old building or replace it)
Is there permission to build a dwelling? (regulations vary; some authorities will give permission for only one dwelling.
Is the land protected by environmental law? (green belt etc)
Are there any plans to route new roads through the land?
Are the boundaries accurate?
Does the vendor own the land outright?
Buying land can be complicated and suitable advice should be sought.
The Valencian Problem
This a very strange concept for foreigners buying property to understand.
Developers can sequestrate part of you land legally if it used in a worthwhile development- theoretically this was meant to include cheap housing, civic properties etc. However this law has been abused by property developers and many people in the Comunidad Valenciana have part or sometimes all of their property. The developer can also levy charges relating to amenities provided in the development.
This does not seem to happen here, most cases have occurred in the southern end of the comunidad.
2 Town Hall (Ajuntamiento)
Empadronamiento- a simple registration procedure, replacing the registration procedure at the local police station. This is now done at the Ayuntamiento. The authorities merely want to know who is living in the area. The possession of this document can make certain procedures simpler.
Residencia- more complicated procedure, designed for long term residents spending most of their time in
There are of course arguments for and against residencia-
UK Social Security entitlements can be affected, strictly speaking you must be resident in the UK to qualify for e.g. sickness benefit, invalidity benefit etc. By claiming Spanish residencia you are classed as non resident by the Inland Revenue and Social Security in the
Self employed persons can continue to pay their national insurance contributions whilst abroad. If declaring that you are abroad, you should pay class 3 contributions. However these only qualify you for pension credits and a widow’s pension for your wife should you be married. These class 3 payments do not qualify you for invalidity benefit if the Social Security is aware you are living abroad.
(My father has personally has fallen foul of this situation, mainly due to the Social Security refusing to answer questions with a simple yes or no, and not corresponding in a simple understandable manner)
Many people claim non residency to avoid paying tax on any rental income they may have in the UK, consider this option carefully, it can backfire on you.
If you are not sure as to how much time you will be abroad, continue with the class 2 contributions and maintain your
You could also be liable to income tax in
3 Other Documents
Passports can be renewed easily here via the embassy in Madrid.
Birth certificates for children born here can be more complicated, especially if the parents are not married.
Should you lose or have a passport stolen, the consulate in
Some solicitors in the
Beware of some investment propositions- I was assured by my bank that interest would be paid gross, without any tax deductions. However the bank retained some of my interest, saying it was reclaimable against my
I personally do not have a current account; I use a savings account (Libreton) from which bills are being paid directly, monies transferred etc. These accounts pay a nominal interest and are cheap to maintain. The book is also a complete record of all transactions etc.
Should you sell a property here, it is advisable to close or empty you current account, as later utility bills can be deducted from your account, should correct procedures not be followed for transfer etc.
You can buy a Spanish car with or without residency. Without residency, a certificate of empadronamiento is necessary (obtainable from town hall).
If you are driving a Spanish car, you must apply to the motor vehicle department (Castellón) for a Spanish stamp of approval to be added to your
You can also reregister a British car in
The local police don’t seem too bothered if you have your
It is advisable to insure your car here fully comprehensively, many Spanish and immigrants ride about with no insurance whatsoever. The Spanish police seem to be very lax at times in enforcing the law of the road, e.g. crash helmet rule abuse. They do however enforce purges at times for seat belts, speeding and breath tests.
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7 Health E111 and EHIC
The E11 is now obselete and replaced with the European Health Insurance Card.
The EHIC is normally valid for three to five years and covers any medical treatment that becomes necessary during your trip, because of either illness or an accident. The card gives access to state-provided medical treatment only, and you'll be treated on the same basis as an 'insured' person living in the country you're visiting. Remember, this might not cover all the things you'd expect to get free of charge from the NHS in the UK. You may have to make a contribution to the cost of your care.
The EHIC also covers any treatment you need for a chronic disease or pre-existing illness. You need to make arrangements in advance for kidney dialysis and oxygen therapy.
It is stressed that that this form is only for visitors to Spain only. If you are deemed to be living permanently outside of the UK, the EHIC is invalid.
Make sure that you stress that you want to be treated under the EEC E111 reciprocal agreement or you will be charged for your treatment.
Indeed any ongoing complicated conditions should be thoroughly researched before leaving the UK.
However with a recent EHIC, you can register with local doctor should you need regular checks. In Peñíscola, you can make an appointment for later that morning or the following day.
If you are a resident you can register at a surgery, provided you have obtained the ID card that is available with your NIE or residencia, you are then treated in the same manner as a Spanish national.
In case of serious ailments most people go directly to hospital and the service is generally good. I have my reservations about any complicated procedures or treatments at this hospital. My family have experience of this.
There is a private service “Alianza” with a hospital at Tortosa and further hospitals in
Anyone can work or operate a business in
They have an offer of a contract from an employer, the employer paying social security contributions.
Self employed people also have to pay the relevant contributions, register for IVA if applicable, and obtain necessary permission to operate their particular type of business.
Social security payments are very high in
The authorities come down hard on social security evasion, high penalties and stiff fines can be expected. Also your property can suffer an “embargo” (a charge levied against your property, i.e., you cannot sell your house without repaying any fines and penalties applied.)
However often a blind eye is often turned regarding very casual work, but any business of any size and turnover should register and follow the appropriate procedure. Beware!!! back to this index
IVA (VAT) Spanish operates a black economy beyond belief. Most monies taken, especially for labour orientated services, are not declared for VAT purposes. Should you require an official invoice, e.g. for an insurance claim, you should tell them this and ask for IVA to be added and you will pay it.
Schools broadly fall into a similar category as the
The Consolación is a Catholic school in Benicarló, largely taught by nuns and was said to be the best school for primary children in the area. There are quite substantial sums of money to pay for books and teaching aids.
Schools open mornings only in June and there are much more holidays taken in
Valenciano is being taught widely as well as Castellano & English.
There is no registered post as such in
Companies such as Seur will for a price guarantee delivery of their service.
Many people use “apartados” if their mail is delivered in an irregular manner. These are rented, numbered, post office boxes. However, financial some institutions will not accept and PO box as a valid address
Should you want any mail to be sent directly and held by the local post office, address to e.g. Your Name, Lista de Correos, Correos, Peñíscola etc. The post office however, will return the mail to sender after a given period. back to this index
to pilot a boat over 15HP, you need a locally approved license or certificate. International Master’s certificates are recognised, however it the smaller boats that are the problem. It is possible to qualify for licences locally, however all instruction is given in Spanish. See www.pescaebro.com on the Delta for boat hire and fishing restrictions.
To fish from a boat you will need permission, this is not usually given. Fishing from the shoreline is quite legal and is a widespread sport.
The ski resorts at
If you stay for example in Les Escaldes, you have the choice of resorts to ski, night life & shops, but have the 30-60 minute drive to the resorts. Andorra has gone some way to reducing the road congestion to and from the ski resorts, there are extensive new cable cars and lifts at Encamp, Soldeu, El Tarter & Canillo. These interconnected slopes offer very varied skiing.
In Spain, La Molina & La Massana are somewhat unreliable, the same is true of Les Angles, Font Romeu and Err, in France. The resorts in the Ariége valley (Ax les Thermes) also suffer the same unreliability.
The further ski resorts in Val de Aran, Panticosa offer good skiing.
There is a small resort near Teruel, but it is very unpredictable.
Frosts are rare on the Mediterranean coast south of
The border crossing at
11 Food & Drink
Nowadays, shopping in
Mediterranean fish tends to be of the smaller varieties. Hake is caught in the