Building permits in Spain
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Building licenses and permits in Spain are essential if you want to buy a piece of land or property in Spain. Even before buying, it is smart to inform yourself if it is possible to do the work you want to do. In this article, we discuss the “Licencias Urbanísticas”, the licenses necessary for anything related to changing properties in Spain.

What is an Licencia Urbanística?

The Licencia Urbanistica, or “urban planning license,” is the license that authorizes works of urbanization, subdivision, construction, demolition, intervention, change in occupation, and use of public space. In other words, when you change, construct, or convert a piece of land, the Public Administration will oversee that the change is legal and followed.

Licencias Urbanísticas

Types of licenses

Not all urban licenses are the same; some may need more information or details about the project. The types of urbanization licenses in Spain are:

  • Plotting license
  • Building license
  • Licenses for other urban development actions
  • The license of the first occupation
  • Activity license
  • Change of use license
  • Terrace license
  • License for change of ownership

Plotting license (Licencia de parcelación)

It is the one that is requested to split up a property into separate lots (urban and rural). This administrative procedure is utilized to ensure that the land on which one wishes to act meets the requirements the government has set for urbanization.

License for change of ownership (Licencia de cambio de titularidad)

If a company is sold, but the operation does not change, it is not necessary to obtain a new business license; instead, you must report the change of ownership to the Administration.

Change of use license (Licencia de cambio de uso)

This license is necessary for the change of use and occupation of a property. For example, you can not use a property used as a warehouse in the future to host fairs. Each change requires a new license. In addition, this license is required when converting any type of housing to another use (such as changing from residential to business).

Licenses for other urban development actions (Licencias para otras actuaciones urbanísticas)

When projects that do not fall under any of the other categories must be completed, they are required, for example, as part of the installation of a billboard or light.

The license of the first occupation (Licencia de primera ocupación)

The building permit is also known as the cedula de habitabilidad, and it is a document that certifies that a structure satisfies the required standards for habitability. To make a property habitable, basic needs must be fulfilled, such as safe entrances, exterior lighting, waste disposal systems, electrical wiring, etc.

Activity license (Licencia de actividad)

When doing business on a property in Spain, it is essential to show that the company does not pollute and is safe. In a nutshell, this activity will not endanger either the environment or the population. When opening an establishment to the public (such as a restaurant), the owner must have an activity license.

Terrace license (Licencia para terrazas)

The public roadway is host to several terraces of bars, restaurants, and cafeterias. To manage this, the city council requires a license to ensure that the establishment complies with safety and public space rules.

Building license (Licencia de obras de edificación)

For both major and minor construction projects, building permits are required. There are several types of building permits:

  • New construction (Obra Nueva): The development of a building in an unbuilt site implies obtaining permission from the municipal authorities.
  • Expansion (Amplicación): This license will authorize an increase in existing buildings.
  • Modification (Modificación): This license allows for a change in an existing structure’s architectural or structural design without increasing its size.
  • Restoration (Restauración): The authorization to undertake works to save and adapt a structure recognized as a cultural significance gives this license.
  • Demolition (Demolición): This license allows for the complete or partial destruction of one or more present structures.

Building license

Reasons to obtain the Licencia Urbanística

Some examples of acts subject to obtaining a license are:

  • Changing urban plots: The construction or remodeling of a plot of land in an urban environment constitutes an act of use change, implying that we should ask for a license.
  • Demolition of constructions: When you want to destroy a building to build a new one, you must ask for a license.
  • Placement of advertising signs visible from the public road: Even when the sign is hung in your building, we must ask for a license if it can be seen from outside.
  • Modification of the structure of existing buildings: when you make any change to the structure of your building, for example, if you add a new floor or convert a garage into a room, ask for a license.
  • Provisional uses and works: when you change the use of the piece of land e.g. opening a café or an office, or when you work on the land, for example, excavations or earthmoving to build foundations. You need permission.

In some cases, you need multiple licenses, and the combined licenses are known as “urban development permits”.

Obtain the urban planning license

The process to get an urban planning license depends on the municipality and the type of license you need. The Spanish government can be slow with giving out permits, and therefore it is essential to submit a correct application if you don’t want to have any delays.

Piece of land

Obligations of the owner

The property owner must ensure that they have the right to alter it. Following this, the competent Administration (the City Council) will grant the license after confirming that the actions to be taken conform to town planning rules.

It’s necessary to possess the required municipal license to perform property transformations. Furthermore, it must be requested ahead of time before acting.

Costs of the License

It is possible the owner needs to pay a fee for the license, which may or may not depend on the work that they want to carry out. The amounts are defined in the Town Planning Regulations.

Obligations of the government

The city council must follow the procedures outlined in its regulations. As a result, the Administration has no choice but to issue an urban development license in accordance with their rules. If you want to make changes according to the law, they are obligated to give you permission.

Administrative silence or not

When the public Administration doesn’t answer in the specified time, depending on the Administration, there are two ways this can be interpreted. It can be considered an implicit rejection or acceptance.

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Get help with your building permit

The process of getting a building permit can be difficult and time-consuming, as the government can be slow in issuing permits. Not knowing the type of building permits you need for your project and communicating with the municipal government can be a headache. Our team at SpainDesk can help you get your building permit with a complete, detailed report that follows the Spanish regulations to the letter.

Our property lawyers will assist you and help you get your plan done, as they have a lot of experience obtaining licenses from the government. They will help you submit the correct application and keep you updated on the progress of the process.

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