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Spanish – English

Legal Dictionary


Abogado – Solicitor.- A solicitor is another word for lawyer, counsel, barrister or advocate (el abogado). In the Spanish purchase process a solicitor is responsible for most of the work which in other European countries is done by the notary, such as conducting the official investigation, checking outstanding debts, checking the legal content of the agreement and registering the property after the sale. A Spanish solicitor needs to be member of a regional Bar Association for lawyers and is obliged to have professional liability insurance.

In Spain there is no such thing as a barrister a QC,  solicitor, etc... Once a lawyer registers at the regional bar association he can representate you at any level in Court, from the small criminal court up to and including the Supreme Court.

Administrador: Administrator, e.g. of a community of property owners in a community development. 

Administrador de Fincas: Licensed property administrator 

Agencia estatal de administracion tributaria: The tax office, usually shortened to Agencia Tributaria, previously called hacienda (and still used by most people). 

Apostille: An official stamp on a document that certifies the signature of the official who signed it, his capacity or office, and the identity of the seal or stamp which the document bears. 

Arquitectura – Estudio.- Architectural survey.- With an architectural survey (el estudio arquitectónico) a licensed Spanish architect evaluates the structural condition of a property. This survey is usually carried out on more expensive or older houses. An architect can also perform an architectural survey on the boundaries of the land/terrain, which is especially advisable for rural properties.

Asesor fiscal: Financial or tax consultant. 

Arras: The 10% deposit paid on a contrato de opcion de compra (option contract) where the contract can be cancelled by either party, with the buyer forfeiting his deposit or the vendor paying the buyer double the deposit. 
Ayuntamiento: City hall or town hall. 

Catastro – Valor Catastral.- The Catastro is one of the two Spanish authorities that register a property and is part of the Spanish tax office (Hacienda). The registration of a property with the Catastro (Cadastre) is obligatory, as it provides the fiscal value (cadastral value) for the IBI tax. As well as this the Catastro deals with the registration of the boundaries of the land using photos and maps.

Catastral reference/ certificate: this shows location and measurement of the property and is used for the basis of taxation. 

Certificado de habitabilidad: A certificate certifying that a property can be lived in, which is issued when a building (DIY) conforms to the building standards and codes. It must be issued before the electricity /water can be connected or a gas contract signed. 

Certificado de empadronamiento: Certificate certifying that a person resides or owns property in a certain town. Census. 

Certificado de fin de obra: Certificate provided by an architect or building engineer certifying completion of work in accordance with the building plans. Certificado de No Residencia: Certificate confirming that you're a non-resident in Spain, required by non-resident home buyers in Spain. 

Colegio: College or professional association (also a school). All professionals belong to a Colegio 

Comisaria: National police station where a Numero de Identificacion de Entranjero (NIE) can be obtained. 

Comunidad de propietarios: Community of owners. 

Comprador/a :Purchaser, buyer. 

Compraventa – Proceso – Conveyancing.- Conveyancing or property law is the transfer process of the legal title of a property from one person to another, or the granting of an encumbrance such as a mortgage or a lien.

Contrato: Contract. 

Contrato de arrendamiento: Rental contract. 

Contrato de compraventa: Sales contract. 

Contrato Privado de Compraventa - Private purchase contract.- A private purchase contract (el contrato privado de compra venta) is a contract set up by a lawyer/solicitor that is signed between a buyer and seller/vendor of a property. It contains all the conditions of the purchase/sale, such the purchase price, payment plan, tax issues, the deadline for signing the title deeds at the notary and contingencies in case the buyer or seller doesn´t want to continue the sale.

Contrato de compraventa.- Cuenta de garantía o depósito en compraventa (A thirds account).- A thirds account (cuenta de garantía o deposito en compraventa) is a neutral bank account of a real estate agent or lawyer/solicitor into which a reservation fee or down payment can be paid. According to the specifications of the agreement the buyer gets his money back in the case that the sale is cancelled by the seller/vendor.

Compraventa - Depósito - Down payment.- Usually in a purchase transaction a 10% down payment (el depósito) is paid when signing the private purchase contract. This money gives the seller/vendor the guarantee that the potential buyer is really serious and will pay the rest of the purchase price at completion once the official investigation is finished.

Compraventa – Escritura Pública - Title deeds.- The title deeds (la escritura) are an official public document which is signed at the notary during the completion. These title deeds prove without any doubt who is the legal owner of the property and therefore it´s always wise to sign this document and not just a private purchase contract. The original document stays at the notary´s office and the buyer will be provided with a copy with which the new ownership can be listed at the Registro de la Propiedad (land registry).

Contrato de Reserva - Reservation contract.- The reservation contract (el contrato de reserva) is a short contract made by the real estate agency which is signed between the potential buyer and the seller/vendor. This private contract temporally takes the property off the market until all conditions for the private purchase contract are negotiated by the lawyer(s). What happens to the reservation fee if the buyer or the seller doesn´t want to continue the sale depends on the conditions in this contract.

Copia simple: Copy of an escritura (deed) without signatures. 

Cuota (de participacion): An owner's share (expressed as a percentage) of a community development, used to calculate his percentage of community fees. Declaracion de obra nueva: Declaration and registration of a new property or development to a notary. 

Denuncia: A formal complaint made to the authorities, e.g. the police. Departamento de extranjeros: Foreign residents department, e.g. at a town hall. 

Derecho de paso: Right of way. 

Domicilio fiscal: Main residence for tax purposes. Fiscal domicile.

Escritura publica de compraventa: the registered title deed of the property and is the proof. of ownership and title. It is signed by both contracting parties and by the Notary after which it is inscribed in the Land Registry and after all the taxes are paid, the purchaser is given a copy 

Estatutos: Statutes, rules or by-laws,e.g. of a community development. Expediente de dominio: Proof of domination, i.e. a document proving ownership of property or land when an escritura doesn't exist or has been lost. Garantia: Guarantee, warranty. 

Gestor-Gestoria.- A licensed professional who acts as an intermediary between private individuals and government departments such as the tax office and social security (administrator). 
 A gestor (or gestoría) is a Spanish administrator that takes care of bookkeeping, insurance, tax issues, etc. A gestor is obliged to be a member of an official organization for gestorias in Spain.

Impuesto sobre el valor añadido (IVA): Value added tax. From September 2012 the rates will be: 4% on primary necessity goods (milk, bread...), 10% reduced rate (for specific product categories like food) and 21% standard rate on professional services, alcoholic drinks and commercial products.
 IVA (Impuesto sobre el Valor Añadido) is the Spanish VAT. When buying a newly constructed property in Spain the buyer doesn´t pay transfer tax, but 10% IVA.

Impuesto sobre transmisiones patrimoniales (ITP): Transfer tax (payable buy the purchaser when buying a resale property instead of VAT which is levied on new properties ). Transfer tax (el Impuesto de Transmisiones Patrimoniales) is the tax the buyer needs to pay when purchasing a property. In Andalucia the transfer tax is 8% over the official value in the title deeds. Values more that 400.000 will be 9% and more that 700.000 10%.

Impuesto sobre Actos Juridicos Documentados (AJD): A 1% tax on 'documented legal acts' roughly equivalent to the stamp duty charged in some countries. 

Impuesto sobre Bienes Inmuebles (IBI): Annual property or real estate tax/local rates (replace by the "contribucion territorial rustica/urbana") The IBI (Impuesto sobre Bienes Inmuebles) is the yearly local property tax. The Spanish Catastro (part of Hacienda) provides the fiscal value (cadastral value) of the property on which the IBI is based.

Impuesto municipal sobre el incremento del valor de terrenos: Impuesto municipal de Plusvalia: Local Tax over the increased value of the terrain Capital Gain Tax. 
A tax on the increase in land value. Capital Gains tax. Officially called impuesto municipal sobre el incremento del valor de los terrenos. The Plusvalía is the local tax over the increased value of the terrain which is paid by the seller/vendor. The percentage of the Plusvalía is based on the purchase price and other variable factors. If desired C&D Solicitors can assess this when you want to sell your property.

Impuesto sobre el Patrimonio: Wealth tax, commonly referred to simply as patrimonio.

Impuesto sobre sucesiones y donationes: Inheritance and gift tax.

Impuesto sobre la Renta de las Personas Fisicas (IRPF): Impuesto sobre ganancia del capital Estatal.Capital Gain Tax. Income Tax. The Capital Gain Tax (el Impuesto sobre Incremento de Patrimonio de la Venta de un Bien Inmueble) is paid by the seller/vendor over the increased value of property according to the purchase price in the title deeds. The percentage of this national tax is 21% of the profit and there are special rules for non-tax residents sellers. The Spanish law in this case requires that 3% of the purchase price is to be deducted when paying the purchase price during the completion at the notary´s office. The buyer is obliged to pay this percentage in seller/vendors´name to the Spanish tax office as a temporary deposit until the final calculation of the Capital Gain Tax (CGT) takes place.

 Income tax.

Impuesto sobre el Patrimonio y sobre la Renta de No Residentes: The tax declaration (form 214) for both wealth and imputed letting tax for non-residents owning property in Spain. 

Impuesto sobre Actividades Economicas (IAE): Business tax or licence for business people and professionals (which replaced the former fiscal licence). Impuesto sobre Construcciones,Instalaciones y Obras: Tax on 'construction, installations and work levied on all building work requiring a municipal licence 

Impuesto sobre el Patrimonio: Wealth tax.

Impuesto sobre sociedades: Company or Corporation Tax. 

Informe urbanistico: A certificate from the local town hall stating what can be built on a plot of land. 

Juzgado: Court or tribunal. 

Ley: Law. 

Ley de arrendamientos urbanos: Law governing urban property rentals. 

Ley de costas: Coastal building law which governs construction in coastal areas. 

Ley de Propiedad Horizontal (LPH): Law of horizontal division of a community development defining the legal rights and obligations of owners. 

Licencia de apertura: Business opening licence. 

Licencia fiscal: Fiscal licence. 

Licencia de obra: Building licence. 

Licencia de primera ocupacion: Licence required for the first occupation of a building, necessary to have an electricity, water, gas meters installed. Habitation license. 
 With a first occupation license or first occupancy license (Licencia de Primera Ocupación) the local town hall grants the permission to live or dwell in a property after the completion of the construction.

Llave en mano: Ready to occupy, i.e. key in hand 

Nota simple del Registro de la Propiedad: Extract of the property register showing a property's details (such as the owner) and whether any encumbrances (debts) are registered against it. Also a copy of property deeds. 
 The nota simple is a summary provided by the Registro de la Propiedad (land registry) that gives information about the ownership, debts, non-paid taxes, mortgages, encumbrances, etc. of a Spanish property. The notary (la notaría) is an official of the Spanish state that verifies if the title deeds, testaments or other public documents are signed correctly and he also checks the identity of the persons involved. In the Spanish purchase process his job is very different from notaries in other European countries which mostly are responsible for the official investigation of the property, outstanding debts, official registrations and the legal content of the agreement. In Spain this work is done by a solicitor/lawyer.

Notario: Notary Public. A legal professional acting as a public official when signing public deeds like wills, powers of attorney, mortgages and sales agreements. He ensures that the law is complied with. 

Numero de Identificacion de Entranjeros (NIE): Fiscal or tax identification number required by all property purchasers in Spain. 

Numero de Identificacion Fiscal (NIF): The fiscal number which all Spaniards have (the same number as their identity card and passport numbers).

Impuesto municipal de Plusvalia: A tax on the increase in land value. Capital Gains tax. Officially called impuesto municipal sobre el incremento del valor de los terrenos. 

P.G.O.U. Plan General de Ordenación Urbana.- P.G.O.U. is short for ´Plan General de Ordenación Urbana´. This local law defines all implications of regional urban planning for a Spanish municipality, such as the classification of the towns´ different areas (urban, reserved for urbanization or rustic).

Poder: Power of attorney or proxy. 
 The power of attorney or P.O.A. (el poder) is an official document that gives someone else (for example a lawyer/solicitor) the right to legally act in your name, for example when you live abroad. When signing the title deeds of a property at the notary the endorsee (el poderado) needs to have a public power of attorney.

Policia municipal /local: Municipal or local police. 

Policia nacional: National police. 

Primera copia: Signed original of the escrituraor a certified copy.

Procurador - Has no direct equivalent in the jurisdiction of England and Wales. it sounds like a sort of registered agent or solicitor's agent, neither of which exists in english and american system (only solicitors on the official roll and barristers who have been called to the Bar have rights of audience in the courts of E&W), In spain lawyers ‘counsel’, we only really use the term to refer to barristers."Procurador" is one of the most confusing and mistranslated terms in legal Spanish, since there is really no equivalent in any Anglo-American legal systems.And the distinct jobs of "procurador" and "abogado" do not parallel those of solicitor or barrister, and "procuradores", who hold law degrees and must pass difficult competitive exams are certainly not paralegals or proxies.

In most legal proceedings in Spain (and in other countries such as latinoamerican countries) it is mandatory that parties be represented by BOTH an "abogado" (lawyer/attorney) and a "procurador" whose job it is to represent (not defend) his client at the court (not in court) and serve as a liaison between the lawyer and the court, filing papers, checking up on the status of the case, etc. Thus, although a procurador is a lawyer in the sense that he holds a law degree, in legal proceedings he has a specific role that is totally separate from that of the abogado.

I do not believe procurador can be translated either as lawyer/attorney/solicitor/barrister as it often appears in many bilingual legal dictionaries, or as "prosecutor," "district attorney," or "DA," which is "fiscal."

As mentioned above, there is much confusion surrounding this term precisely because there is no equivalent in any Anglo-American legal system, so a term has to be coined or the translator has to explain the procurador's real functions in a footnote. (In Scotland, there is something called a "procurator fiscal", an officer of the sheriff court who carries out preliminary criminal investigations, takes statements from witnesses, etc., but that's another story.)

The real problem is trying to find a good translation of "procurador". I suggest "court representative" but I would appreciate any additional suggestions that actually reflect the definition of procurador and distinguish him from the abogado.


Recaudacion municipal: Municipal property tax (rates) office. 

Recaudacion provincial: Provincial tax office, e.g. for business tax. 

Registro de la propiedad: Land registry where all the details of properties are kept such as ownership, debts, mortgages etc. 
 The Registro de la Propiedad is one of the two Spanish authorities for the registration of a property. This land registry office registers the official ownership of a property according to the information of the notary´s title deeds. The summary of the Registro de la Propiedad is called the ´Nota Simple´. Registration with this authority is highly recommendable but not compulsory. To obtain a mortgage, though, an inscription in the Registro de la Propiedad is always needed.

Renta: Earnings or income. 

Representante fiscal: Official fiscal (tax) representative. 

Residencia: Residence card or permit. 

Retencion: Withholding tax. Also the 3% of the sale price that must be retained by the buyer (in lieu of taxes) when a non-resident sells a Spanish property. Seguridad social: Social security. 

Seguro: Insurance. 

Testamento: Will. 

Todos los gastos: All fees or charges,e.g. in a property purchase contract. Valor catastral: The fiscal or rateable value of a property fixed by the local municipality, on which property taxes (IBI) are calculated



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