A Spanish Notary, Notary Public, Notario, Public Notary, or Spain Notary is someone you probably need at one point when you are living or doing business in Spain. In this blog, you can learn more about questions such as: “What is a notary?”, “What are they used for?” and “How do I find one?”
What is a Notary in Spain?
The notary in Spain is an official responsible for authenticating written, signed or sealed documents. They have several functions under the Spanish Law, which include:
- Authentication of acts and contracts.
- Authenticating different kinds of documents related to civil law issues, such as wills, testaments, nuptial agreements or other private instruments. The notary is responsible for authenticating the signatures on these documents.
- Authentication of any public document or document used in a private matter.
- Authentication of public documents, judicial proceedings or acts appointed by the authorities. Which includes authenticating everything from contracts concluded with third parties to administrative acts.
A notary’s duties also extend beyond individual clients; government agencies may ask them to certify copies of certain documents or act as arbiters in disputes between private individuals or companies.
The Spanish notary serves as a legal expert in the Spanish legal system and certifies Spanish documents. The notary in Spain is responsible for authenticating and legalising contracts and agreements using stamps and signatures. While lawyers put private agreements in writing, the notary brings private documents into the public domain. At the same time, the notary does explain certain legal criteria during the signing. Advising parties during the notary process is not their particular service.
Why do I need a Spanish Notary?
Notaries exist because the government needs them to settle disputes and legal transactions. They will assist you with legalising agreements. A notary is a trusted third party who has no connection with the transaction or parties involved and works on behalf of the public good. This is the reason why they carry an importance.
Documents that can be notarised include:
- Transfer of property deeds
- Where there is no will, a declaration of heirs is required.
- Legal requirements govern the creation, modification, and split of businesses and partnerships.
- Settlements in marital disputes
- Any form of power of attorney
- Acquittals and the discharge of responsibilities
- Documents relating to marital status
- Wills and testaments
- Contracts and agreements
- Inheritance declarations and claims from heirs
- Loans, mortgages, and other debt obligations
- Other documents such as official statements
Below you can read about the most common reasons to need a notary.
Transferring property title deeds through a notary
One of the main notary services is the transfer of title deeds. Next to a notary, a property lawyer is often involved when buying a property in Spain.
Title deeds are official documents that certify the ownership of the real estate. The title deeds are registered at the Spanish land registry, and it states the owner of the property. When you buy a house from an individual, they will provide the title deed as proof of ownership.
You will transfer the property deed via the notary when you sell or purchase a property. The buyer and seller (or their representatives) have to go to a notary, and the notary will give them a contract or deed they both sign. The document is then notarised by the legal witness and formally completed once a stamp tax has been paid.
The transaction must also be recorded in the Spanish land registry for the transaction to be complete. The notary will inform the land registry of the sale and transfer ownership from one to another.
Creating a limited company in Spain through a notary
When creating a limited company in Spain, all shareholders and partners need to go to the notary and sign certain documents which will state their percentage of shares, responsibilities etc. In other words, it will establish the relationship between all parties involved.
After these documents have been signed and witnessed, they must be registered at the trade registry (Registro de Comercio). This will make the limited company official. The notary can also assist you with cancelling a limited company if the need arises.
It is important to have a lawyer by your side to do everything correctly. The notary will only help you with the signing. We have a company registration service in Spain, as well as a comprehensive guide about starting a company.
Changing of the marital status through a Notary
Another leading service of the notary is the changing of marital status. This is done when someone wants to get married or divorced.
The change of status will have an impact on their rights and responsibilities before the law, so it is something that must be done correctly. For example, if the married couple has children together, this act will determine which partner will gain custody.
To make sure that you are not taken advantage of, it is important that this process is done by an experienced notary who specialises in family law. It is also recommended to get a lawyer involved.
This service can be done in the same way as a sale of a property. The couple will go to the notary with their documents and sign a document which they will both witness. When this has been done, the notary will give them an official copy of what they have stated and send all documentation directly to the local Civil Registry Office for them to carry out the final procedures.
How Lawyers and Notaries work together in Spanish law
Lawyers and notaries work together to prevent fraud and protect people. Lawyers have the training necessary to identify fraudulent documents, draft documents, and support clients with the required documents.
The notary uses signatures and stamps to authenticate private agreements to bring them into the public domain. Next to this, notaries are able to verify documents to see whether they are true or false.
Lawyers are often contacted when an individual or company wants to take legal action. They will contact a lawyer who they know has expertise in that type of transaction. The lawyer will then contact the notary to complete the legal act.
Getting notarised copies of documents
Other services that a notary provides are getting notarised copies of original documents (certified by an official stamp) and witnessing powers of attorney.
A copy can be very useful if you need to take care of financial matters in another country, and also when you need to certify your signature on a company document.
Procedures involved drafting documents
Some legal acts under the Spanish law system require drafting legal documents. Drafting a document (Redactar un Documento in Spanish) means the assembly of all the relevant elements in order to produce a text. In Spain, there are no public notaries that draft documents. The service is usually offered by specialised law firms.
Frequently asked questions
Can a notary abroad be used for Spanish documentation?
Spain is a member of the Hague Convention of October 5 1961, which means that certain documents, such as those concerning civil law, can be certified by authorities abroad and recognised by courts in Spain without having to appear before an official who possesses both.
How much are notary fees in Spain?
Notary fees in Spain are set by the state and notaries cannot charge more or less for a service. The notary fee depends on many factors, including time of year, location, and type of service.
When do I pay notary fees?
You will pay the notary fees before visiting the notary office. You will get an invoice from the lawyer office. When you are working through a lawyer, the lawyer can also send you the bill.
Is there a refund if the notarised document is rejected?
A fee is charged by the notary office even if nothing was drawn up by the lawyer and no signatures were made. If there is a need for further legal work after the notarisation, then the fees will be charged again.
Do I need to speak Spanish when I visit a notary office?
Although the vast majority of notaries are Spanish, there are also many bilingual ones. That being said, it is recommended to have a lawyer or interpreter by your side. This is because the translator will be able to explain all of the conditions and terms included in each document so that you fully understand what you are signing.
Is there anything else I should know about the process of getting a notary appointment?
A notary procedure is a very formal process. Legal consequences are often attached to documents that are signed before the notary, so the process must be carried out correctly. Notary fees are high, so it is important to make the appointment worthwhile.
The notary will only certify the signature on the document, and their responsibility ends there. It is then up to the signatory to ensure that what they have stated in the document is valid. So if you have any doubts about whether you are the owner of the property, whether you have repaid loan instalments or whether you need to sign a document before an official, it is recommended that you consult with your lawyer.
Where can you find a notary office?
You can find notary offices in all major cities. The best thing you can do is contact your lawyer, who can recommend a notary office for you, and they will help you find the nearest notary. Lawyers often work close with notaries. You can also find a list of notaries and their offices online (in Spanish) and contact them yourself.
What is a Hague Apostille Stamp?
The term “Apostille” refers authentication of a document for use in another nation, and the Stamp is the way to show that the government authenticated the document.
The Hague conference issues an apostille to confirm that a notary seal or signature on a document is valid. It ensures that the notary has acted within his authority and with due diligence. When a document or contract has an Apostille Stamp, it has the legal force of any official document issued in Spain. This way, you can get documents verified in other European countries and other countries around the world that joined the Hague Apostille Convention.
Documents that can carry the Apostille Stamp are private and commercial contracts, power of attorney, certificates of nationality, birth and marriage certificates, financial documents, title deeds any other document that has been notarised.
An Apostille legalises a foreign public authority and gives them authentication. You can find countries that provide a Spanish notary abroad on The Hague Conference on Private International Law.
How long does a notary appointment take?
You will be asked to sign a logbook when you enter the notary office. You will then be required to provide identification and proof of any dueness with the notary’s office. In most cases, you must know the person who referred you. Or at least have been referred by someone known by the notary public. This is part of their due diligence to ensure that the “quien recibe” (the person who recognises the notary) is really who they claim to be.
What happens to documents that you signed at the notary?
A civil or criminal court can use documents signed by a notary, and they can be used as evidence in any official proceedings by any governmental organisation. Documents signed at the notary become public documents that everyone can access.
When you have completed signing a document at a Spanish notary, the notary will send the document to the Registry Office. You can get a copy at the notary when signing or by going to the Registry Office. It is a good idea to get a copy to prove the signing in case anything goes wrong with the official document (and yes, this sometimes happens).
Since a notary only functions as an intermediary between both parties, they will not be involved in future disagreements or wrongfully signed contracts. Therefore, to protect you from a lawsuit or wrongdoings, it is recommended to get a lawyer involved.
The notary in Spain
If you are moving to Spain or have recently relocated, you must understand what a Spanish notary does. You can use them to start a company, change marital status, and buy or sell a property.
If there’s one thing that we would like to emphasise about the work of these professionals, it’s the following. For many legal procedures notaries are required, It is very formal, and you often need help from an expert to deal with them. We hope our article has helped clarify any questions you might have had about notaries.
If you need a lawyer to guide you, we are happy to assist you. We have vast experience with legalities in Spain, and our team is glad to help with your venture in Spain.