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The Spanish Lawyer Online
The Spanish Lawyer Online

Antonio Flores’ Blog

Thoughts about laws and regulations which affect foreigners in Spain

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Posts Tagged ‘spanish red tape’

New Restrictions on NIE Numbers Put Off Investors

January 25th, 2012

A row between the Secretariat of Labour and Immigration and the Central Police Station is threatening to discourage hundreds of potential property buyers from taking the plunge. The former has ruled, against the opinion of the latter, that the obligatory NIE numbers can no longer be applied by representatives with a power of attorney and so personal attendance is mandatory (as from the 3rd Jan 2012).

Although the reason behind the disagreement appears to be how both Government offices interpret a particular norm, the consequences can be devastating given that NIE numbers are now required for almost anything and many people will just not feel that Spain is a country worth investing in if you need to queue up at 6 AM at police stations, get a ticket, walk to a specific bank to pay the fee and then go back to the police station to apply for the number: buying property, setting up a business, signing up for a job and many other legal matters just don’t deserve this third-world treatment. In Madrid, a city that aspires to become a European financial hub, you can expect a 3 month wait for an appointment to apply for the NIE.

Also, there is a total lack of uniformity in what documentation is required: for EU and Non-EU citizens alike, some police stations in the Costa Blanca are asking for notarized documents of the property one wishes to buy, others will accept a reservation contract (original or copy) and proof of payment of deposit and if you are not around to pick the number up, you will have to give an official power of attorney to someone if you are in Ibiza. The random nature of documentation requirements is perplexing to professionals and unbearable to investors.

Spanish Consulates, not particularly equipped to assist investors, have been commissioned to process applications and return an NIE number within 5 working days (RD 557/2011), a tall order for some of such offices not used to dull admin work. And that is if you have a consulate nearby, as cost-cutting has meant that the Spanish Government has closed many (e.g. Manchester and Hamburg), so if you happen to be a billionaire currently in Vladivostok looking at buying a property for a zillion euros that you have already visited and reserved, and you are told that you need to fly to Moscow, or back to Marbella, to apply for the NIE that you forgot to get whilst property hunting, then Spain has a problem.

The property industry is dismayed by what are probably the weirdest, craziest and most idiotic laws around Europe, and is hoping that as with most things, common sense will ultimately prevail.

Property ,

The Praised New Omnibus Act for Businesses is “Business as Usual”

February 18th, 2010

omnibus-act-red-tape-in-spain1It will certainly sound perplexing for many, especially when thinking on Spain’s internationally infamous bureaucracy, but as from the beginning of 2010 someone willing to open a business in Spain will not be required to obtain a license but only to apply for it. Although the procedure sounds “too good to be true” it is indeed the case, but not thanks to Zapatero but to a EU Directive known as the Bolkenstein Directive which has now been implemented.

Anyone who has been involved with opening a business will know that this legislation change is providing a legal framework to something which was de facto being done, that is, start running a business without having the permit which, in some Town Halls, was taking up to 12 months to grant. The problem us lawyers had with this was telling a client that yes, it was not a problem to open it whilst “mañana” Town Hall officials reviewed the papers and decided, after innumerable trips to the businesses department with fully stamped certificates from until-then-unknown technicians, to grant the bloody thing. Because although the above system was in practice, any unfriendly neighbour could call the local police to complain that a place was running without a license, and that automatically merited a visit and a fine (some of up to €1,200).

The Omnibus Act, as it is called, has replaced the requirement of having to apply for a business opening license with a Declaration of Responsibility, where the business owner needs only to assemble the paperwork and the technical certificates required and submit them to the Town Hall, followed by a statement confirming that the applicant has complied with the requirements undertaking to maintain these throughout the duration of the activity.  

But as usual the Act has a trap: the exemption of having to apply for a license leaves out all the activities which fall under the Environment Management Act which includes, inter alia, guns & ammunitions factories (thank God for that!), mineral extraction quarries, open air cattle, hog and livestock wholesaling, F1 circuits and many other unimaginable businesses, but also (and this is the trap) pubs, bars, restaurants, butchers, fishmongers, kebab corner shops and many other joints so popular in the Spanish coasts. So as far as we are concerned the new Act will pass by and large unnoticed.

Corporate Law , ,