Key legal requirements of living in Spain

6 December 2017 | Tags: , , ,

For many years some of the foreign residents in Spain have been ‘light’ on paperwork and not too concerned about their responsibilities to register, with little enforcement from the Spanish authorities.

The prospect of Brexit has forced many to think again with the prospect of the dream life of being taken away by a lack of formal process. Although we do not know the real meaning of Brexit for Brits living in Spain, it seems fairly obvious that being correctly registered here would at least reduce the complications of ownership and residence.

Last month in cooperation with Mijas Town Hall we organised an event for foreigners to learn more about the rights and responsibilities of living in Spain; we talked, but more importantly, we listened. The most interesting thing was that not too many foreign residents are aware of some of the key legal requirements of living in Spain and most of them have only heard comments from friends or neighbours but do not really get accurate information. The following are some examples of our findings;

Driving licenses

If you are driving for more than 6 months in Spain you should check if your driving license is acceptable or maybe you should have a valid Spanish driving license, if not, you are liable to fines and it could provide an insurance company with a valid reason not to pay a claim. The answer is simple, check at the DGT website , if not get some help.


Your Residence registration is important, especially as your rights may be affected by Brexit. So many people are unaware that if your residence card is more than five years old and does not have ‘permanente’ written on it, then it is not valid. If you do not have a valid residence card, now is a golden time to get one before Brexit complicate your right to live in Spain. The procedure varies between regions and our local offices will be happy to advise.

The Padron

The empadronamiento also seems a big mystery to so many foreign residents. Local authorities get paid based on the number of foreigners living in their area and can set budgets for local services accordingly. You do not need a residence to register and it does not have any financial liabilities. Being registered entitles you to access local services, discounts, improves your environment and even gives you a vote in local elections. A visit to your local foreigners office with your passport is all that is needed.


Having a Will in Spain is a subject where I have never seen so many misunderstandings with actions based on outdated knowledge or even fantasy. The only solution I can offer for this, is that if you live in Spain and have assets anywhere in the world, then you should take advice. We will of course be happy to help.

Moving to a new country can have implications for your legal rights and responsibilities in both the country you are leaving and the destination country. Judging what we have learned from the expat community, there are knowledge gaps which could become liabilities; ignorance of the law is not a valid defence. With 11 branches around Spain, My Lawyer in Spain are here to help to make your life here as easy as possible. If you would like to come and speak with us about staying in the right side of the Spanish system, we can show you how it’s not costly or too complicated if you do it properly.

My Lawyer in Spain

Written by:
My Lawyer in Spain

< Back to blog posts

You may also be interested in...

Ask us for a Quote

We know you will want to know how much your legal advice will cost, so we are committed to confirming costs of our services to you in writing.

Join Our Newsletter

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: . You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

“Having been nervous about buying a property overseas, your team soon put our minds at rest.”

Mr & Mrs Crick