Basic & essential paperwork
At times, Tenerife can seem a bureaucratic nightmare, with a paperwork trail created just for the fun of it! Everyone will have come across “experts” who all seem to tell a different story about how something is done, and whether something is even necessary. It all just adds to the confusion. The problem is that all these so-called “experts” are often just people who have been through the system once, usually when they bought their own property. What they don’t know, and cannot know, is not only that the systems here change frequently, but that they are also different from one area to another.
You will need a NIE (Numero de Identidad de Extranjeros) to do almost anything here because Spain operates an Identity Card system, and a NIE is the ID number for foreigners conducting official procedures in the country. These are issued as certificates in their own right to non-residents, and are for “economic purposes only”, e.g. buying a property or opening a bank account, but anyone coming to Tenerife for more than 3 months must register as a resident foreigner and obtain a Registration Certificate, known as Certificado de Registro or, more commonly and colloquially, the Green Certificate: the NIE for residents will be incorporated into this certificate if one has not already been issued.
These Certificados de Registro are permanent once an EU-national holder has been in Spain for five years, though those with an expiry date (i.e. those certificates which were issued to applicants who had not been in Spain for five years at the point of application) may be exchanged for one that states it is permanent if the holder wishes. This is not a requirement, however, since EU regulations allow EU nationals permanent residence in another member state once they have legally resided there for five years. Under new rules announced by Madrid on 25 March 2012, new applicants – i.e. EU nationals who wish to remain in Spain for more than 3 months – must comply with certain conditions before a Certificado de Registro will be issued. The rules are HERE, based on the BOE HERE: please note that this applies to new applicants. The rules require foreigners:
- to show documentary evidence of their employed or self-employed status, or of social security contributions,
- if not working, to show sufficient resources to avoid becoming a burden to Spain and to have private medical insurance, or for pensioners, a certificate from their native country providing state cover in Spain – for UK pensioners, this is the S1, formerly E121.
No fixed amount has been given to define “sufficient resources”, with the authorities saying that the personal situation of EU member state nationals will have to be taken into account, and that the amount must be at least more than the minimum wage in Spain, which in 2013 is €9,034.20 a year. At present, however, what is required is either a stamped bank statement from a Spanish bank showing a sum of €5,200 per person on deposit, or regularly paid-in income (unclear for how long), or a letter confirming a pension entitlement – this letter must have the Hague Apostille and be sworn-translated.
For those who do not intend to reside in Spain, the NIE will be sufficient, but non-residents will also need a certificate after 3 months for their banks to confirm their non-resident status (see THIS page). This document is known as the Certificado No-Residente, and is essentially the non-resident equivalent of the Certificado de Registro. Some banks will take care of this for their clients, and it is essential to check whether this is something that is being handled within your particular bank or that needs to be arranged independently because embargoes can be placed on accounts where a certificate is not in place. This document will need to be replaced every 2-3 years.
Another document that you will need from time to time is a Certificado de Empadronamiento. This is issued by a local Ayuntamiento and verifies that you are resident at a particular address. As such, when you first get one, you will need to provide proof of where you live in the form of an Escritura or rental contract. The certificate is issued, the first time, as proof that you are registered on the padron, which is essentially a local electoral register (the application for the certificate itself involves registering so there’s not another stage to go through). The more names an Ayuntamiento has on its padron, the greater its funding, so it is clearly in the interest of a local authority to have as many people registered as possible. Once you are registered, moreover, you will be entitled to vote in local elections. The main reason that most people register, however, is to get the certificate itself, which will be needed periodically depending on the requirements of certain official or commercial procedures. Once your first one has expired, it’s best to wait until you need another before getting one: it is not a legal requirement to possess one of these certificates on an ongoing basis.
If you own property here, you should seriously consider making a Spanish Will. Spain views inheritance in a different light to British Law, and without a valid Will in place, in the worst case scenario, your assets could end up being disposed of according to Spanish Law and might even mean that your spouse cannot inherit all your property. To make a Spanish Will, you will also need a valid UK Will in place, and the terms of the two Wills must match, though your Spanish Will will only be concerned with your Spanish assets. A foreigner’s Spanish Will essentially acts as a pre-legalized mechanism to ensure that your UK Will’s clauses concerning your Spanish assets are executed according to UK Law, and within weeks rather than months or even years, because there will be no requirement to wait for probate to be granted in Spain. There will also be a significant saving in legal fees because the speedier mechanism will already be in place.
If you have any questions on the above, please post a comment on the Being Legal in Tenerife Q&A page HERE, which is where previous questions have been moved.