Spain Explained

Selling a house in Spain: Required paperwork, taxes and tips

Last updated on June 3rd, 2020 at 07:15 pm.

If you are thinking of selling a house in Spain you want to be ready for when a prospective buyer appears.

The presentation of documentation is an essential part of the selling process. Some paperwork you should already have to hand. For example, you will have had to have had a NIE (tax identification number) when you bought your property in the first place. However, other documentation may not be quite as easy to find and you would be well advised to think ahead and reapply if you don’t already have what’s needed.

Paperwork you will need when selling a house in Spain

Habitation certificate

To begin with, when selling a house in Spain you will need to provide the purchaser of your property with a habitation certificate or cédula de habitabilidad. This certificate means that your property complies with the town hall’s requirements for a dwelling. It is your responsibility as a seller to pass it on to the buyer and the buyer’s solicitor will expect you to be able to provide it.

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The habitation certificate is valid for ten years, after which time it needs renewing. If your property is brand new then it will have been issued as a first occupancy licence or Licencia de Primera Ocupación. This licence is then replaced at a later stage by the habitation certificate. Many people find that when they come to sell their property they do not have this certificate. If this is the case for you, do not worry. You may have initially had a first occupancy licence and this was never changed. If you have never had one at all or you can’t find it then you can apply for another one. A solicitor can help you obtain one or a replacement from the town hall.

It is an important document that shows that the property is registered correctly and fulfills all requirements to prove the property is habitable. It is issued by the Local Town Hall and is also required to enable the registration and changeover of the utility services. It is renewable after 5 or 10 years and is later known as a Certificate of Second Occupancy.

Energy Efficiency Certificate

Sellers must provide a CEE (Energy Efficiency Certificate). This is a legal requirement when renting or selling a house in Spain and rates the energy consumption of the property from ‘A to G’ with A being the most efficient and G the least. A note is made of the energy that is consumed and the emissions.  The certificate must be signed by a qualified technician or architect and takes account of the level of consumption of electricity, water and gas.

If you have advertised your property then the results of your CEE should have been included in the advert. Any advertising material is expected to show the allocated energy label including billboards, posters, on the internet and brochures.

Other documents

If you bought your property without the help of a mortgage then you should have a Title Deed which shows that you are the legitimate owner. If you have a mortgage the bank will have retained the mortgage Deeds.

In order to ensure a smooth transfer on everyone’s behalf, then there are a number of other documents that are beneficial for your solicitor to have too. Providing examples of your utility bills will make it easier to change the name they are registered in. You also need to have an official certificate from the community administrator to prove that there are no outstanding community fees.

Resident sellers will need to prove their fiscal residency status with a certificate issued by the Spanish Tax authority. This will avoid them having 3 % of their sale funds retained to cover possible capital gains tax payment obligations. They will pay any due tax the following year.

Taxes you will have to pay when selling a house in Spain

Here’s the scenario. You sold your property two years ago as a non­ resident. You were aware that non­ residents have 3% of the selling price of the property retained by the Spanish Tax Authority this is to cover any outstanding tax bills such as capital gains. But now you’re getting a little impatient to have it all tied up and the money in your account. New paragraph you know that everything that needed to be paid, has been paid and as you haven’t actually made a profit on the sale the 3% is yours. But so far there’s no sign of it. Finally, you contact the estate agent who helped you to sell your house. They explain that the money won’t automatically be returned to the non-resident bank account you’ve kept open specially for the purpose. Now,you’re informed that you should have filled in form 210H to claim your 3% back and that it should have been filled in within 3 months of the sale to claim the outstanding balance.

This is a situation that we are often approached with at Abaco. Someone who sold their property years before is still patiently waiting for their 3% to be returned not knowing that you have to present the 21OH to receive it.

Sometimes there isn’t much to claim back if taxes are outstanding. But in other cases it can be a significant amount and if you have always ensured that you are up-to-date with your payments the last thing you want is for your money to be withheldlonger than necessary. And, it’s not just the 3% retention that you might not know about.


When selling a house in Spain there is a tax charged by the local town hall on the increase in the value of the land that your property is built on. The value is calculated to have increased every year that you have owned the property. This has been a contentious tax for some time as many properties have not, in fact, gained in value but tax has been charged nevertheless. Your legal representative will monitor this situation.

Capital Gains

As wellas Plusvalia you may have capital gains tax (CGT) to pay. The rate is 19% for non-residents (but can increase to 23% for residents) of the profit made on the sale. However, you can also deduct some expenses from this such as costs incurred in the purchase and the sale. If you have receipts for any building work done, this can also be deducted. A solicitor can help ensure that you do not end up paying more than you should.

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Tips for selling your house in Spain

If you want to improve the chances of selling property in Spain, we recommend you this article we have prepared for you.

How Abaco can help you

We have specialist lawyers with years in the conveyancing profession who check everything for you. If you do find that you are missing some of these documents, Ábaco can help you to obtain them or deal directly with the necessary agency so that the sale is not delayed. We will also claim back the 3% retention on your behalf and we will check the arrangements for the payment of plusvalía and your final IBI/ SUMA bill.

It can seem like a rather intimidating list. It needn’t be and with Ábaco to help you, there should be no unpleasant surprises. You just have to fill out this form and we will offer you a free consultation without obligation.

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Donagh Wylde

30 June, 2020 12:10 pm

Do you provide a Poderes/power of attorney service for Irish citizens who wish to sell their Spanish property? if so can you give some details and costs involved for this service please.

Oscar Paoli

30 June, 2020 11:12 pm

Yes of course we do, will have someone from our customer care department contact you with more information.
With kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers

Catherine Hodges

30 April, 2022 11:13 am

Does the completion money have to be by bank draft or can the buyers solicitor send the euros to my English euro account in the Uk direct?

Oscar Paoli

1 May, 2022 9:27 pm

Hi Catherine,
Both options are plausible.
With kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers


4 November, 2023 10:32 am

If I provide building receipts for works done when I sell my property will I receive the whole amount back or just the I v a tax

Oscar Paoli

14 November, 2023 12:07 pm

Hi Wendy, not sure we are understanding your query properly, could you please clarify?
With kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers