Brits planning to buy property in Spain may now come up against another barrier. Now that the UK has left the EU, British buyers could face an age-old law from the waning days of the Franco dictatorship.
The regulation was shaped to prevent foreign investors from buying property close to military or strategic bases.
The law is limited to real estate in specific municipalities. Any Brits who are looking to buy property in these areas will have to acquire a special permit from the Spanish Ministry of Defence. They’ll need to provide documentation, such as a criminal record check.
Which areas require a permit?
All in all, the legislation covers 1,560 municipalities. And it isn’t just areas that are close to military bases. It also affects Spain’s borders with France and Portugal, as well as urban areas close to the Strait of Gibraltar, the Bay of Cádiz, the Galician coast.
The law affects locations that are renowned for being expat fan favourites — a fact that will likely be a cause of concern for many British expats. The Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands are covered by the law, and so are many towns up and down the southern Costa del Sol.
The law shouldn’t affect property in metropolitical, built-up areas. Or as the Spanish call it: “núcleos urbanos consolidados”. Yet, any rural real estate that comes under the restrictions will likely be affected.
This is not a new law. It’s been around for over 40 years, ever since the Franco regime. The reason why it’s come to light now is because of Brexit.
Whereas before 1st January 2021, British buyers could swerve the legislation as they were exempted under EU regulation, now they share the same rights as any other non-EU citizens.
These restrictions are certainly not news to Spanish estate agents. The law has previously impacted Russian buyers and has driven several realtors in the Alicante region to lobby the law.
Now it’s even more cause for concern for those in the Spanish property industry. Jesualdo Ros, secretary-general of the Association of Real Estate Developers of the Province of Alicante (Provia), shared his unease about the regulations. “Eighty per cent of foreign purchases are made by British citizens in that area,” says Ros. This means around 800 buyers a year will be affected.
What does this mean for me?
If you’re planning to invest in property that falls within these locations, you will need to apply for a permit from the Spanish Ministry of Defence.
As far as we know currently, to acquire a permit, British buyers will need to provide a Criminal Record Certificate, along with a sworn translation stamped by a notary. You’ll also need detailed plans of the property itself.
The British government has advised that those looking to buy Spanish property should ‘seek specialised legal advice from a lawyer who can advise and support you through the process and, if necessary, request the military authorisation on your behalf.’
How long does the process take?
Obtaining the permit is said to take a minimum of two to four months and a maximum of six months. So… a good while.
It’s also possible that if and when the coronavirus restrictions are lifted and people are able to relocate internationally once more, there could be a backlog in applications. This may result in the process taking longer.
What else should I consider before moving to Spain?
As we can see here, relocating to Spain isn’t an overnight job. It takes months of planning to ensure that all the legalities are met, and the paperwork is completed. And now it could take even longer.
Another factor that many soon-to-be expats leave too late is currency exchange. The further in advance you plan your money transfers, the easier and more financially rewarding it will be once the time comes to make the transfer.
If you’re planning on moving to Spain, get in touch with one of our currency specialists. We’ll be able to give you a quote at a leading exchange rate, as well a take you through some of our solutions.Book a free one-to-one