Tackling Spanish paper work

Taxes Thu, 20 Mar 2014
Tackling Spanish paper work

If you are a resident, living in Spain, how did you approach Spanish paper work:

  1. no time like the present – I tackled it straight away and got everything done as soon as I could
  2. poco a poco – no rush I just took one piece of paper at a time
  3. what paper work?

Presuming you didn’t answer ‘c’ then both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. If you answered ‘a’ then you are at risk of a nervous breakdown. There is just too much to do all at once and there is a natural order in which you have to do things. You cannot rush out and obtain your SIP card (health card) until you have your padron. You cannot obtain your residencia without an NIE.

If you answered ‘b’ you are less likely to collapse from funcionario (Spanish civil servant) fatigue but you are in danger of leaving an important step too late. For example, having a SIP card is vital if you are living in Spain and do not have health insurance here.   

Like many aspects of life, finding the middle ground is probably best. As soon as you have made the decision to live in Spain, then you should write down a list of the paper work you need. For example, this might include:

  • NIE (tax recognition number for those with a financial interest in Spain)
  • Residencia (registration of foreigners with the national police)
  • Padron (town hall register of residents)
  • SIP (health card that registers you with the Spanish national health service)
  • Spanish driving licence

Tackling them in this order, is probably not a bad idea. Regions do vary as to whether you need the residencia before the padron or the other way round but take this as the pecking order and you probably won’t go far wrong.  

Running parallel to this, the majority of residents must complete an annual tax declaration in Spain. Making this declaration will help demonstrate that you are a fiscal resident in Spain, a status that can have benefits such as reducing the amount of Spanish inheritance tax to pay and preventing the retention of 3% from the sale price if you sell your home.

You don’t have any choice when you make the declaration. The deadline is the 30th June each year and applies to the income from the previous year. This means that you should have plenty of time to navigate other paper work before embarking on your resident tax declaration

The other good news is that it is a much easier process than you might think. In most cases only half an hour is needed and the form is completed online. Your fiscal representative will be able to tell you there and then whether there is income tax to pay or not. In some cases there might even be a refund.

Whatever your preferred method of becoming ‘official’ the resident tax declaration is not something you should overlook and the process is nearly as easy as ‘abc’.  

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