Spain Explained

The Spanish Notary

Not all countries have a notary to verify documents as they do in Spain. Here the Spanish notary is a very much respected individual whose office carries a clearly recognised ‘Notary’ sign and who trains for several additional years to qualify for the title. Most people associate the notary with Spanish power of attorney but their activities go much further than that.

The notary is a professional within the Spanish law system and his/ her main function is to certify Spanish documents ensuring that private agreements fulfil certain legal criteria. The Spanish notary is involved in legalising agreements and contracts and uses a stamp and signature to endorse them.

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The main difference between a Lawyer and a Notary is that the Lawyer deals with private documents such as contracts and might represent a client, for example in a law-suit. A notary, on the other hand, brings a document into the public domain.

The notary has a strict code to abide by and the Law for Notaries defines his function and the extent of his or her authority. The notary is qualified to a very high level and must pass some very strict exams to achieve this status. They must study initially for five years at University to obtain their lawyers’ degree. They then pass an additional competitive examination which requires, on average, another three to five years of preparation.

The role of the notary includes:

  • Advising parties of the formalities and procedures involved
  • Drafting the required documents
  • Certifying publicly the facts, acts and agreements that take place in front of him/ her

In the majority of cases individuals can choose their notary, although the notary can only act within his/her own district. The number of Notary offices within each town depends upon the population and the actual placing of the office itself.

Why do you need a notary?

Notaries are an important regulator who can guarantee that the documentation in Spain is correct and would be considered authentic and proven in court. Any document that needs to be entered in a registry, such as the land registry has to be signed in front of the Notary.

Documents that can be signed before a notary include:

  • Marital status documents
  • Last wills and testaments
  • Marriage settlements
  • General contracts and agreements
  • Inheritance declarations and requests from heirs
  • The foundation, modification and separation of companies and partnerships
  • Loans, mortgages and other debts
  • Acquittals and the discharge of obligations
  • Any kind of power of attorney
  • Declaration of heirs where there is no will
  • Any kind of declaration or statement
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The notary isn’t always stuck in the office. They will sometimes be called out to complete a particular service such as being called to hospital to enable a seriously ill person to make a will. They are often present at some very important times in people’s lives. For example, when there is a transfer of property or a company is being formed and needs a constitution.

It might not be a role that we are familiar with in other European countries but the notary  carries a great  deal of respect in Spain.

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Astrit Jahaj

8 January, 2019 3:42 am

My name is Astrit Jahaj. I
My name is Astrit Jahaj. I was married to a Spanish citizen in Paris on 14/08/1999 to Raquel Sanchez Camara.
We were divorced on 07/09/2007 in Majadahonda # 616/01 number 2. I now live in New York, USA and need a copy of my divorce certificate. Are you able to retrieve this document for me and send to me in New York?
Can you please let me know if it is possible and what is the timeframe?
Thank You!

Suzanne O'Connell

14 January, 2019 2:11 pm

Hi Astrit

Hi Astrit

We do not deal with these issues but the documentation can be obtained from the solicitors who dealt with the divorce proceedings or directly at the Family Court where it was issued. 


25 February, 2019 3:33 pm

Me gustaría hacer un loan agreement con una amiga que le he prestado un dinero y ella me quiere pagar por mes durante dos años

Suzanne O'Connell

4 March, 2019 12:29 pm

Signing a loan agreement

Signing a loan agreement before a Notary is quite a simple process. This is a contract that the parties negotiate so that terms can be freely agreed between them. You just need to provide information relating to the parties involved and also to the loan itself. The provisions that need to be included in the Deed are the amount lent, the interest if applicable, the regularity of the payments (monthly, weekly) and the repayment term. It should also be clearly stated who is going to bear the costs arising from the signing of this Deed. 

Other provisions that could be included in the agreement are the payment deferral, interest on arrears, the early repayment or the consequences in case of a breach of contract. 

Beatrice Soto-Martinez

24 April, 2019 2:28 pm

How can I make a complaint
How can I make a complaint against a Notary, who is their governing body so to speak? Thanks, Beatrice

Suzanne O'Connell

28 April, 2019 7:46 pm

Hi Beatrice

Hi Beatrice

Thank you for your query. You can go to the consumer office or the Notary College of the region where the notary is located. 


25 June, 2019 10:13 am

My ex wife and I signed
My ex wife and I signed divorce papers in front of a Spanish notary on April 4th 2019.We were married in the UK and have both been resident in Spain for over 2 years.I believe that the notary should then have registered the divorce.As 2 and a half months have passed and I have heard nothing I emailed him 2 days ago and have had no reply.My lawyer says she “assumes” the divorce has been registered and does not appear to be interested in following up.What is a reasonable amount of time that should pass between signing and registering?Thanks.

Suzanne O'Connell

1 July, 2019 7:32 pm

Hi John

Hi John

The divorce should be registered in the Civil Registry immediately after the signing of the deed. However, its registration in the land registry when there are real properties involved could take some more time, even a few months, depending on the Land registry and its workload. The easiest way to confirm whether it has already been achieved or not would be to contact the Land Registry directly or to request a nota simple from it.