Spain Explained

Singing the praises of fiscal residency in Spain

When you use the word ‘certificate’ it usually conjures up images of  celebration, graduation and prize givings. Some of us have studied long and hard to amass a collection of these things. Sometimes wondering what the point was after all!

When it comes to the residency certificate in Spain the usual images of pomp and circumstance are quickly replaced by that of queues and frustration. There are not many of us who have found the application for a Spanish residency certificate straight forward. And, at different times, it hasn’t resembled a certificate at all.

Now, I’m going to further complicate matters by suggesting that your Spanish residency certificate is hardly worth the paper it’s written on, let alone a possession to be prized. It’s true that you need it for some activities in Spain. For example, obtaining a padron, your SIP card or a bus pass can’t be done (in most cases) without one. But this ‘certificate’ is of little use when it comes to actually proving residency.

If you look closely at yours, you can see why. If you have the A4 green certificate it is simply a historical document, no bar code, no image, nothing to ascertain that you really have been living in Spain since it was issued.

Given that expats aren’t eligible for DNI cards like Spanish nationals, what does constitute proof? With even less pomp and circumstance we must introduce the fiscal residency certificate. This little known piece of paper is what you need if it comes to proving residency to reduce or eliminate inheritance tax. You also need it to prevent the 3% retention when you sell and possibly exempt you from paying Spanish Capital Gains Tax altogether.  

If you’re wondering which building you will need to wait in for hours to obtain one, don’t rush anywhere until you are sure that you have the evidence to show that you really are a fiscal resident in Spain. You will also need to make sure you are requesting the right type for the purpose you need it – there are two variations, one is valid in Spain and the other outside.

If you have been making regular Spanish tax declarations before June 30th each year then obtaining a fiscal residency certificate should be no trouble. This is one of the reasons that we recommend that all residents in Spain make one even if they have no tax to pay.  

The fiscal residency certificate doesn’t come with a fanfare or a round of applause. However, it is a very useful document if you want to benefit from important tax advantages only available to residents in Spain. So perhaps it does deserve just a little public acclaim after all. 

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